Sports Update

Feb. 12, 2002 at 7:56 PM
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In Sports from United Press International

Skating controversy boils over at Olympics

SALT LAKE CITY, Feb. 12 (UPI) -- American athletes continued their surprisingly successful start to the Salt Lake City Olympics Tuesday and Estonia, which had never won a Winter Games medal of any kind, came up with two on the same day.

The activities on ice and snow around the Wasatch Mountains, however, were overshadowed by a public outcry over the results of the first figure skating competition of the Games.

The International Skating Union announced Tuesday it would conduct an inquiry into the judging in the pairs event, won Monday night by Russians Yelena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze. Russians have won the pairs competition for 11 straight Olympics.

Specators who watched the pairs long program Monday night left the arena stunned after the Russians were given the gold medal over Canadians Jamie Sale and David Pelletier. The Canadian pair was placed first by judges from the United States, Canada, Germany and Japan. But five judges, from Russia, Ukraine, Poland, China and France, gave higher marks to the Russians.

Those within the skating community pointed to a number of awkward landings by the Russian duo and the almost flawless performance by the Canadians.

"I'm trying to think of a reason or excuse, but I can't find a reasonable argument why Yelena and Anton won," said American Scott Hamilton, winner of the gold medal in 1984. "I can't understand it and it's tough (for the Canadians) to take."

Comments such as those caused the ISU to announce it would take a second look at the judging, although there was no indication that the results would be overturned. Although controversy is nothing new when it comes to figure skating judging, it is very unliekly the results of a major competition would be changed after the fact.

While the sport of figure skating suffered through the controversy, the United States won three medals Tuesday--more than any other country.

Casey Fitzrandolph won the men's 500-meter speed skating gold while teammate Kip Carpenter captured the bronze. And Travis Mayer took silver in the freestyle skiing moguls competition.

The United States, which has never won more than 13 medals in a Winter Olympics, already has nine and leads all nations in that department. Austria had seven at the end of Tuesday's five medal events while Germany and Norway both had six. The Americans and Norwegians led the way with three gold medals each.

Other than Fitzrandolph, gold medals were awarded Tuesday to Norway's Bente Skari in the women's 10-kilometer cross country race, to Janne Lahtela of Finland in the moguls event, to surprising Carole Montillet of France in the women's downhill and to Andrus Veerpalu of Estonia in men's 15-kilometer cross country.

Estonia had never won a medal in the Winter Olympics, but joining Veerpalu on the cross country podium was countryman Jaak Mae, who won the bronze.

The Olympic schedule got back on track with the completion of the women's downhill, which was postponed from Monday because of high winds and which was also twice delayed Tuesday before the skiers could finally get going.

Seven-car crash in Daytona 500 practice

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., Feb. 12 (UPI) -- Tuesday's practice session for the NASCAR Winston Cup teams hoping to make the field for Sunday's Daytona 500 included a seven-car crash on the backstretch, late in the session.

Todd Bodine, Jeff Burton, Bobby Hamilton, Tony Stewart, Jimmy Spencer and Brett Bodine drove the cars involved.

Spencer is struggling to make it into Sunday's Daytona 500 and will have to race his way into the field through Thursday's Gatorade Twin 125 qualifying race. Spencer will have to finish in the top 14 to make the starting lineup.

Burton's crash was the second time his car was involved in an incident. Earlier in the day, he spun between the third and fourth turns.

Todd Bodine admitted that he would have to switch to a backup car for Thursday's Gatorade Twin 125, which means he will have to start at the rear of the field in his race.

Pacers suspend Carlos Rogers

INDIANAPOLIS, Feb. 12 (UPI) -- The Indiana Pacers suspended forward Carlos Rogers Tuesday for not reporting to the team following the All-Star break.

Rogers, who was signed by the Pacers as a free agent in September, is averaging 6.9 points in 22 games in his eighth season in the NBA.

"I haven't had a chance to speak with Carlos, but I've been told by his agent he won't be returning for family reasons," Indiana president Donnie Walsh said. "Until I speak to Carlos, I have placed him on the suspended list."

The 6-11 forward has also played with Golden State, Toronto, Portland and Houston.

Laettner returns to Wizards

WASHINGTON, Feb. 12 (UPI) -- The Washington Wizards welcomed back another injured starter Tuesday when they activated forward Christian Laettner from the injured list and replaced him with rookie center Kwame Brown.

Laettner suffered a deep right thigh bruise in Minnesota on Jan. 21 and was placed on the injured list three days later. The Wizards won seven of nine in his absence.

The 6-11 Laettner's return comes 13 days after the activation of starting guard Richard Hamilton, who has helped the Wizards win five in a row since returning.

Washington (26-21), which ended the first half of the season Thursday with victory over the NBA-leading Sacramento Kings, has gone 23-11 since opening the season by losing 10 of 13 games.

Laettner, a starter for the first 22 games this season before going down with a broken left fibula, is averaging 7.0 points and 5.4 rebounds in 24 games.

Laettner is in his first full campaign with Washington after being acquired from the Dallas Mavericks last season. He has been a fairly durable player throughout his career, playing in at least 74 games seven times.

Sales of Expos, Marlins approved

NEW YORK, Feb. 12 (UPI) -- Formal approval of the sale of the Florida Marlins to Jeffrey Loria, the owner of the Montreal Expos, and Major League Baseball's acquisition of the Expos from Loria was officially announced Tuesday.

Commissioner Bud Selig initially scheduled an owners meeting for Tuesday in Chicago, but decided to give the owners the option of voting on the proposed sales by mail last week. As expected, both of the transactions received the necessary three-quarters votes for approval.

Major League Baseball will own a team for the first time in its history, although it intends to eliminate the Expos after the 2002 season.

But for what probably will be their final season in Montreal, the Expos will have Frank Robinson as manager, Omar Minaya as the major leagues' first Hispanic general manager and Tony Tavares as president.

"I am very pleased with the management team that we have assembled," Selig said. "They have long experience in the game and they are first rate in every way. Now that they are in place, they will have the authority to operate the club with complete autonomy."

Meanwhile, Expos manager Jeff Torborg and most of Montreal's front office staff will go with Loria to Florida.

Loria's purchase of the Marlins paves the way for John Henry, who has owned the Florida team the last three years, to become owner and managing general partner of the Boston Red Sox.

Loria is paying Henry $158.5 million for the Marlins and will receive $120 million from MLB for the Expos. Henry and his group are paying $660 million to buy the Red Sox, Fenway Park and 80 percent of the New England Sports Network.

Magic activates Patrick Ewing

ORLANDO, Fla., Feb. 12 (UPI) -- Orlando Magic center Patrick Ewing, who has been sidelined since Jan. 7 with patella tendinitis in his right knee, was activated from the injured list Tuesday.

Ewing played in each of the team's first 35 games before sitting out a win on Jan. 7 win over the Orlando Magic. He was placed on he injured list two days later.

The 11-time All-Star is averaging 7.1 points and 5.0 rebounds for Orlando (25-24), which is tied with the Philadelphia 76ers for seventh place in the Eastern Conference. The Magic, who went 8-6 during Ewing's absence, had a home game Tuesday night against his former team, the New York Knicks. He collected five points and four rebounds in 15 minutes off the bench in a 94-90 win at New York on Dec. 30.

Ewing signed with the Magic in the offseason after playing in 79 games with the Seattle SuperSonics last season. After two injury-plagued seasons with the Knicks, Ewing averaged 9.6 points and led the SuperSonics with 7.4 rebounds per game.

Former major leaguer Jim Spencer dies

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., Feb. 12 (UPI) -- Jim Spencer, who played for five teams in a 15-year major league career, has died of an apparent heart attack. He was 55.

Spencer worked in promotions and appeared at charity events for the New York Yankees, most recently playing Saturday night in a benefit game for the Joe DiMaggio Hospital in Hollywood, Fla. He died on Sunday.

A winner of two Gold Gloves as a slick-fielding first baseman, Spencer played in the 1973 All-Star Game and was a member of the Yankees' 1978 championship team.

A first-round pick of the California Angels, Spencer also played with the Yankees, Texas Rangers, Chicago White Sox and Oakland Athletics. He was a career .250 hitter with 146 home runs and 599 RBI. He set career-highs with 23 homers and a .288 batting average in 1979 with New York. He retired after the 1981 season, but stayed active in baseball, serving as an assistant coach for Navy.

Craig Adams sent to minors

CHARLOTTE, N.C., Feb. 12 (UPI) -- Carolina Hurricanes center Craig Adams, who faces a 10-game suspension for leaving the bench during a fight in Sunday's 4-0 loss to the San Jose Sharks, has been assigned to Lowell of the American Hockey League.

Adams left the bench in the second period to attack San Jose defenseman Bryan Marchment. He received a game misconduct and a roughing minor. Marchment and Carolina left wing Chris Dingman each received roughing minors while San Jose center Owen Nolan also received a game misconduct after jumping on Adams.

Marchment, who has a reputation for delivering cheap hits, was suspended six game for elbowing Carolina right wing Shane Willis Nov. 10.

NHL rules call for a 10-game suspension for any player leaving the bench during an altercation, but Adams must be on an NHL roster for it to begin.

Vancouver Canucks left wing Todd Bertuzzi and Los Angeles Kings center Adam Mair each received 10-game suspensions for leaving the bench this season.

The 24-year-old Adams does not have a point in 27 games with the Hurricanes. In 12 games with Lowell, he has three goals, three assists and 37 penalty minutes.

The 6-0, 200-pound Adams was selected in the fourth round of the 1998 draft and had one goal and 20 penalty minutes in 44 games with Carolina last season.

Kozlov to miss Olympics

SUNRISE, Fla., Feb. 12 (UPI) -- Florida Panthers center Viktor Kozlov will miss at least two games and will not play for Russia in the Winter Olympics due to an abdominal strain.

The Panthers, who own the second-worst record in the Eastern Conference at 17-32-5-3, had a Tuesday night game at Nashville and will play Wednesday night in Chicago before the Olympic break.

Right wings Pavel and Valeri Bure of the Panthers will play for the Russian Olympic team at the Salt Lake City Games. But the Russians will be without Kozlov and defenseman Dmitry Yushkevich of the Toronto Maple Leafs, who was diagnosed with a blood clot in his leg last week.

Kozlov, who turns 27 Thursday, suffered the injury in Florida's loss to Boston last Saturday. He has nine goals and 18 assists in 50 games this season.Acquired by Florida from San Jose in November 1997, he set career highs with 17 goals and 53 assists in 1999-2000.

MLS Cup to be held in new stadium

NEW YORK, Feb. 12 (UPI) -- CMGI Field, the new home of the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots and Major League Soccer's New England Revolution, will host the 2002 MLS Cup.

It marks the third time that the MLS champion will be crowned in New England. The league's title game was played at Foxboro Stadium in 1996 and 1999.

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