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Rahlves Wins Downhill Event

From Staff and Wire Reports

Conquering a course he compared to “skiing down a spiral staircase,” Daron Rahlves of Sugar Bowl, Calif., recorded the third World Cup victory of his career by winning a downhill race Sunday at Bormio, Italy.

Combined with the fifth-place finish of Bode Miller, it was the first time two U.S. men placed in the top five of a World Cup downhill since 1968.

Rahlves, the world super-giant slalom champion, finished the challenging course in 2 minutes 1.42 seconds, ahead of Austrians Fritz Strobl (2:01.60), Hannes Trinkl (2:01.66) and Peter Rzehak (2:01.85), and Miller (2:02.08). Miller, of Franconia, N.H., had won a World Cup giant slalom Dec. 22 at Alta Badia, Italy.

“Bode did it last week and he’s been challenging me, so I had to step up and get it in gear,” Rahlves said after covering the course’s 3,315-foot vertical drop.

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“This is probably the toughest race I’ve ever had, it was so bumpy all the way from the bottom up to the start. It was a long course and was really tough to ski. I gave it everything I had, from the time I kicked out of the start to the finish line.”

World Cup overall leader Stephan Eberharter of Austria, competing for the first time since he injured a knee in a slalom race Dec. 15, didn’t finish. He was trailing Rahlves’ time when he skied off the course before the bottom section.

Eberharter retained his World Cup lead with 548 points. Miller is second with 478 points. Rahlves is fifth in the downhill standings and 13th in the overall standings with 205 points.

“It was exciting, to say the least. It was a Christmas-New Year’s present,” said Phil McNichol, the U.S. men’s coach. “Daron has done well at Bormio in the past. Typically, he’s good on the more technical downhills, the steeper, high-speed technical challenges, not so much the tuck-and-glide.”

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-- Helene Elliott

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Janica Kostelic of Croatia used two near-flawless runs to win her third World Cup slalom this season.

Kostelic, a three-time Olympic champion, finished with a combined time of 1:38.67 at Semmering, Austria, and defeated Christel Pascal of France by 1.11 seconds for the 14th slalom victory of her career.

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Pascal finished in 1:39.78 and Nicole Gius of Italy finished third in 1:40.45.

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Sven Hannawald of Germany won the first leg of the Four-Hill Tour for his fifth consecutive victory in the ski jumping competition.

Hannawald, who became the first ski jumper to sweep the four hills last season, had jumps of 125.5 and 119 meters at Oberstdorf, Germany, for 263.1 points. He tied the record of former East German Helmut Recknagel, who won five in a row in 1959.

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Martin Hoellwarth of Austria, the World Cup leader, finished second with 257.7 points and Janne Ahonen of Finland was third with 257.5 points.

Baseball

Free-agent reliever Ramiro Mendoza, 30, a key member of the New York Yankees the last seven seasons, agreed to a two-year deal with the Boston Red Sox. Mendoza was 8-4 with four saves and a 3.44 earned-run average in a career-high 62 appearances last season.

Tennis

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Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski, Britain’s top two men’s players, have withdrawn from the Australian Open next month because of injuries.

Henman, the British No. 1, said a shoulder operated on in November has not fully recovered. He had been scheduled to play in the Commonwealth Bank International, which starts Jan. 8.

Rusedski, who also withdrew from the Qatar Open this week and the Sydney International Championships next week, has not recovered from an operation on his right foot.

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Australian Open champion Thomas Johansson, Nicolas Kiefer, Paul-Henri Mathieu and Gaston Gaudio also pulled out of the Qatar Open because of injuries.

Sixth-ranked Roger Federer and French Open champion Albert Costa head the field.

Passings

Joel Buchsbaum, the college draft expert for Pro Football Weekly, has died, the magazine said. He was 48.

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