In Sports from United Press International
Croatia wins first Winter Olympics medal
SALT LAKE CITY, Feb. 14 (UPI) -- Johan Muehlegg of Spain won his second gold medal of the Olympics Thursday and Croatia won its first ever in the person of alpine skier Janica Kostelic.
Bad weather, however, moved in to again disrupt the Games while the anticipation grew for the next big figure skating event, which was scheduled Thursday night when the men and their quadruple jumps were set to take center stage.
Figure skating has become the overriding attraction at the Salt Lake City Olympics because of the scandal involving judging over last Monday's pairs competition.
The International Skating Union is under orders from International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge to resolve accusations of competition fixing as quickly as possible, although the ISU originally did not plan to address the issue until a regularly-scheduled meeting on Monday.
At issue is whether the French judge for the pairs competition, Marie Reine Le Gougne, agreed to vote for Russians Yelena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze in the pairs event so the French ice dancing team that will be in action later in the Olympics would receive a favorable vote from the Russian judge.
Berezhnaya and Sikharulidze won the gold medal in a 5-4 vote over Canadians Jamie Sale and David Pelletier despite the belief of most skating oservers that the Canadian team turned in a much better performance.
The ice dancing judging will be closely watched next week, especially because of the fact that previously suspended Ukranian judge Yurk Balkov will likely be on the panel for that competition.
Four years ago at the Nagano Olympics, Canadian judge Jean Senft recorded Balikov's voice on tape as Balikov was giving the order of finish for the ice dancing competition before it took place. Balikov was suspended from judging for a year and that incident caused some IOC members to demand that ice dancing be removed from the Olympics.
Odom to miss 4-6 weeks with ankle
LOS ANGELES, Feb. 14 (UPI) -- Already on the injured list with a wrist injury, Los Angeles Clippers forward Lamar Odom suffered a high right ankle sprain at a shootaround Thursday and is expected to be sidelined for four to six weeks.
Odom was rehabbing from a strained ligament in his right wrist that landed him on the injuured list on Jan. 24 before he suffered his latest ailment.
It just added to the turbulent season for the versatile Odom, who has averaged 13.1 points, 6.1 rebounds and 5.9 assists in 29 games.
On Nov. 5, Odom was suspended for the second time in eight months for a violation of the NBA's anti-drug policy.
Saints owner has back surgery
METAIRIE, La., Feb. 14 (UPI) -- New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson, who had successful heart bypass surgery last April, underwent back surgery Thursday.
The surgery was performed by Dr. Hank Eiserloh at the Baptist Campus of the Memorial Medical Center.
"Mr. Benson's surgery this morning to repair the narrowing of his spinal canal was a success," Dr. Eiserloh said. "We anticipate him making a full recovery and he should be able to return to normal activities within four to six weeks."
The 74-year-old Benson just completed his 17th season as the club's owner.
"The chronic low back pain Mr. Benson was suffering from was a result of the nerves in his back being compressed," team physician Dr. John Amoss. "The surgery is unrelated to Mr. Benson's previous heart condition."
LSU rewards Saban with new deal
BATON ROUGE, La., Feb. 14 (UPI) -- Louisiana State Coach Nick Saban, who guided the Tigers to a Southeastern Conference title and a victory in the Sugar Bowl last season, has been rewarded with a new contract.
Terms of the new deal were not disclosed, but according to the Baton Rouge Advocate, Athletic Director Skip Bertman has said that Saban previously gave an oral acceptance to a $400,000 raise, which would hike his yearly salary to $1.6 million, plus a trust fund.
After a slow start, Louisiana State worked its way into the SEC title game last season, where it upset Tennessee. The Tigers completed a 9-3 season with a 47-34 victory over Big Ten champion Illinois in the Sugar Bowl.
LSU also announced the retirement of long-time defensive line coach Pete Jenkins, who spent 13 years with the Tigers in two different stints.
White Sox, Rockies in Hall of Fame game
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y., Feb. 14 (UPI) -- The Chicago White Sox and Colorado Rockies on Thursday were named as the participants in the 56th annual Hall of Fame Game on July 29.
The White Sox are 1-6-1 in the Hall of Fame Game and last played in 1992, when they lost to the New York Mets, 3-0. The Rockies will appear for the first time.
The game will take place one day after the induction ceremony in which former San Diego Padres and St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Ozzie Smith will be enshrined.
Irwin seeks to extend Florida mastery
LUTZ, Fla., Feb. 14 (UPI) -- The Senior PGA Tour concludes its three-week stay in Florida, and Hale Irwin should be among those reluctant to leave the Sunshine State.
Irwin will seek his seventh Senior Tour win in Florida at the Verizon Classic, a $1.5 million event that begins Friday at the Tournament Players Club of Tampa Bay.
Irwin won for the 33rd time on the Senior Tour with a one-stroke victory last week at the ACE Group Classic. His 54-hole total of 16-under 200 was a shot better than Tom Watson.
A winner of 20 events on the regular PGA Tour, Irwin ranks fourth on the Senior money list and went over the $20 million mark in career earnings last week.
Seles advances in Qatar Open
DOHA, Qatar, Feb. 14 (UPI) -- Top seed Monica Seles of the United States advanced, but second-seeded Sandrine Testud of France was upset Thursday in the second round of the Qatar Open.
Seles, coming off Saturday's semifinal loss to Jelena Dokic in an indoor event at Paris, recorded a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Venezuela's Maria Vento-Kabchi. Seles also was a semifinalist at the Australian Open last month and runner-up at the Pan Pacific Open two weeks ago. She faces Australian eighth seed Nicole Pratt in the quarterfinals.
Slovakia's Janette Husarova knocked off Testud, 7-6 (7-5), 0-6, 6-2, and faces Russian Anastasia Myskina in the quarterfinals. Testud, who was seeking her fourth career title, received a first-round bye. She reached the final here last year and had to pull out of last week's tournament in Paris with a neck injury.
Gonzalez upsets Mantilla
VINA DEL MAR, Chile, Feb. 14 (UPI) -- Chilean Fernando Gonzalez gave the fans something to cheer about Wednesday as he upset second seeded Felix Mantilla of Spain.
Gonzalez, who reached the fourth round as a qualifier at the Australian Open, posted a 6-1, 7-6 (8-6) victory over Mantilla in the second round at the BellSouth Open. He will face Argentina's Jose Acasuso in the quarterfinals.
Lakers broadcaster to return
LOS ANGELES, Feb. 14 (UPI) -- Veteran Los Angeles Lakers broacaster Chick Hearn, who underwent heart surgery in December, will return to work on March 1 when the team hosts the Indiana Pacers.
Hearn's streak of 3,338 games and 36 years behind the microphone ended when he missed a contest against the Houston Rockets on Dec. 20. A day earlier, the Hall of Fame broadcaster underwent a procedure to correct a condition known as aortic stenosis at Northridge Hospital Medical Center.
In his 42nd year behind the microphone, Hearn became just the third broadcaster inducted to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1991. His remarkable streak of Lakers' games began on Nov. 20, 1965.