Maiken Caspersen Falla earned her fifth straight sprint victory ©Getty Images

International Ski Federation (FIS) Cross-Country World Cup sprint leader Maiken Caspersen Falla held off her rivals to triumph in the women’s 1.6 kilometres event in Lahti.

The 25-year-old Norwegian had won the last two sprint events but qualified in third position for today’s final at the Finnish venue, due to  host next year’s Nordic World Ski Championships.

She showed her form in the six-woman final, hitting the front of the field early and then fending off the attentions of the United States’ Jessica Diggins in the closing metres.

Falla clinched the gold medal in a time of 3min 33.81sec, with her rival crossing 0.25 further back in second.

The podium was completed by Falla’s compatriot Heidi Weng, who crossed the line in 3:34.16 for the bronze medal. 

“It was a great day,” said Falla.

“I felt very strong and I wanted to be in the lead of the pack to stay away from any possible trouble.

“I wanted to safe some energy and speed before the finish stretch.”

The victory means Falla extends her advantage over her team-mate Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg in the sprint standings to 54 points, having moved onto a tally of 580.

Emil Iversen led home a Norwegian podium clean sweep in the men's event
Emil Iversen led home a Norwegian podium clean sweep in the men's event ©Getty Images

In the men’s event, World Cup sprint leader Federico Pellegrino was the only non-Norwegian to reach the final.

The Italian led throughout the majority of the race but was powerless to hold off the Viking armada in the closing stages. 

Emil Iversen hit the front and secured the gold medal in 3:08.14, with his compatriot Finn Haagen Krogh crossing second a further 0.25 back.

A Norwegian clean-sweep was completed by Petter Northug, who finished in 3:08.83.

Pellegrino boasts a 97-point advantage over Northug in the sprint standings, despite missing out on a medal.

The World Cup is due to continue at the same venue with a women’s 7.5km race and a men’s 15km event.