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Feb. 28, 2010 at 12:21 AM
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Snowboard gold goes to Canada

WEST VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Feb. 27 (UPI) -- Canada's Jasey-Jay Anderson overcame a large deficit Saturday to defeat Benjamin Karl of Austria for the gold medal in the snowboarding parallel giant slalom.

Anderson added to Canada's record gold haul by making up .76 of a second on the second trip down the course and capturing his first Olympic medal. He has been the overall World Cup champion four times, but finished 20th in this event four years ago in Turin.

This was Anderson's fourth Olympics and he has said it would be his last.

The event was plagued by rain, wind and poor visibility, but since it was the last full day of competition around the Olympics, the athletes battled on.

Anderson, 34, had only the 10th best qualifying time, but he made it safely through three elimination rounds without losing a race.

That streak came to an end when Karl got the best of him in the opening round of the finals. Karl, however, struggled in the bad conditions on his second trip down the course and allowed the Canadian to moved in front.

The bronze medal went to Mathieu Bozzetto of France, who defeated Russia's Stanislav Detkov in the third-place matchup.

Philipp Schoch of Switzerland had won the first two Olympic parallel grand slalom events, but a bad back kept him out of this year's Games. Simon Schoch, who won the silver medal in Turin behind his brother, was eliminated in the quarterfinals Saturday.


Americans end bobsled drought

WHISTLER, British Columbia, Feb. 27 (UPI) -- Steven Holcomb safely drove down one of the world's toughest tracks Saturday to bring the United States its first Olympic four-man bobsled title in 68 years.

Over the course of four runs, five of the 25 sleds entered in the premier Olympic bobsled event failed to make it down the arduous course.

Needing one more solid run to wrap up the gold medal, however, Holcomb survived the challenge and ended Germany's domination of the four-man competition.

Holcomb was joined in the American sled by Steve Mesler, Curtis Tomasevicz and Justin Olsen.

They led from the opening run and made four trips down the Whistler Sliding Center course in a combined time of 3:24.46.

German bobsled star Andre Lange, who was trying for his third straight four-man title and his fifth Olympic gold medal overall, settled for second place. In the final run, the German sled jumped from third to second place over a Canadian team led by Lyndon Rush.

Holcomb took a lead of 0.45 of a second into the final run and although that is a large advantage in the bobsled world, the slightest mistake could have ended all hopes of a medal.

He needed a time of 51.89 for his last trip down the course to secure the gold and he came through with a 51.52.

A German team had won the four-man event in seven of the last nine Olympics.

Americans won the competition three of the first five times it was held, but there had been no gold medal since the 1948 Olympics in St. Moritz. A U.S. sled driven by Todd Hays finished second in 2002.


Venus Williams wins Mexican Open

ACAPULCO, Mexico, Feb. 27 (UPI) -- Top-seeded Venus Williams recovered after dropping the first set to down Slovenian Polona Hercog and win the $220,000 Mexican Open in Acapulco.

Williams took the final two sets against the unheralded 19-year-old Hercog, winning by a 2-6, 6-2, 6-3 score.

Williams, the former world No. 1, followed up her win in Dubai last week with another triumph in Mexico, successfully defending her Acapulco title and notching her 43rd career singles title.

Hercog, facing Williams for the first time, was playing in her first-ever WTA final.

Williams pocketed $37,000 with the win, while Hercog collected $19,000 as the runner-up.


Cards signs IF Lopez to one-year deal

JUPITER, Fla., Feb. 27 (UPI) -- The St. Louis Cardinals have signed free agent infielder Felipe Lopez to a one-year contract, team officials said Saturday.

The deal was announced as the switch-hitting Lopez was seen wearing uniform No. 8 as the Cardinals prepared for workouts in the spring training home of Jupiter, Fla., MLB.com reported.

"I've wanted to be here for a long time," Lopez told the Web site. "I've made a lot of changes, and it's going great so far."

Lopez, 29, finished the last two months of the 2008 season with the Cardinals, rejuvenating his career by hitting .385 in 43 games. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Lopez's base salary will be less than $2 million plus performance incentives.

"We are excited to have Felipe back in a Cardinals uniform," said Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak in a statement. "As a switch hitter who can play multiple positions, he gives us tremendous versatility. We feel he's going to be a great addition to our club."

MLB.com said Lopez split last season between Arizona and Milwaukee, hitting .310 with a .383 on-base percentage and a .427 slugging percentage in 151 games.

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