SHARECOMMENTMORE

HAYWARD, Wis. - Italian Fabio Santus won the 40th American Birkebeiner for the men and Caitlin Gregg of Minneapolis won the women's race.

The Duluth News Tribune reports Santus emerged from a pack of close to 15 skiers in a photo finish at the end of the 50-kilometer race from Cable to Hayward on Saturday.

Gregg won in an equally close finish. She also won in 2011 and finished a close second last year to Holly Brooks. Santus also won in 2010.

For the first time, the women's elite skiers started 20 minutes ahead of the men. Gregg and Santus finished within two minutes of each other.

The Birkie is billed as the largest Nordic ski race in North America. This year skiers from 21 countries and 48 states were expected.