Johannes Høsflot Klæbo made a winning start to his Cross-Country World Cup title defence ©Getty Images

Johannes Høsflot Klæbo began the new Cross-Country World Cup season in dominant fashion and led a Norwegian one-two-three in Ruka.

The Olympic and world sprint champion hit the front around midway through the final and from then on there was no looking back, until Klæbo checked he had space to ease off when approaching the finish.

He did, and won by a convincing margin.

Even Northug won the scramble for second place and Pål Golberg was third.

Erik Valnes came fourth as Norway's dominance even extended beyond the podium.

Klæbo had also been the fastest man in qualifying, with the top four again all Norwegian.

Emma Ribom earned a first World Cup victory today  ©Getty Images
Emma Ribom earned a first World Cup victory today ©Getty Images

In the women's contest, Emma Ribom from Sweden was top of the bunch for her maiden World Cup victory.

There were two Swedes on the podium but not pre-race favourite Maja Dahlqvist, who came last in the final.

Instead Johanna Hagström was second, just as she had been when Ruka opened the last World Cup season.

Norway's Tiril Udnes Weng completed the top three.

Classic races over 10 kilometres are scheduled tomorrow.

Defending overall men's champion Klæbo and Ribom may enter those contests in yellow bibs as the earlier World Cup leaders.