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Miller Gets First Downhill Victory

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Bode Miller of Franconia, N.H., won the opening World Cup downhill race of the season Saturday, finishing in 1 minute 42.75 seconds at Lake Louise, Canada. It was the first World Cup downhill victory of his career.

Miller, a slalom and giant slalom specialist, is focusing on improvement in the downhill this season as part of his bid to become the first American man since Phil Mahre in 1983 to win the World Cup overall title.

Antoine Deneriaz of France was second in 1:43.72, and Michael Walchhofer of Austria was third in 1:43.92.

The race was held on the 2010 Olympic downhill course, a string of artificial snow on an otherwise brown mountain.

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Miller won the opening giant slalom race of the season in Soelden, Austria, but his best downhill result before Saturday was a fifth in Bormio, Italy, in 2003.

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Janica Kostelic of Croatia won a World Cup race for the first time in nearly two years, charging through choppy conditions at Aspen, Colo., to beat Sweden’s Anja Paerson by more than a second in the season’s first World Cup slalom.

Kostelic was second heading into the second run, .05 seconds behind Tanja Poutiainen of Finland, and used a near-flawless run to beat Paerson by 1.27 seconds.

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Defending overall champion Janne Ahonen of Finland won the season-opening World Cup ski jump event in his home country. Competing on Ruka’s illuminated large hill in Kuusamo, he went 144.5 meters in the first round and 142 in the second for 318.7 points.

Ahonen finished 43.2 points ahead of Germany’s Alexander Herr.

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Ronny Ackermann of Germany won the season-opening Nordic combined World Cup event at Kuusamo. He finished 29.7 seconds ahead of defending champion Hannu Manninen of Finland in the 15-kilometer freestyle cross-country skiing. American Todd Lodwick was third, 33.9 seconds behind.

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Evgeni Plushenko and Irina Slutskaya delighted the home crowd in Moscow by winning the Cup of Russia figure skating event with superb free-skating programs.

Plushenko had a quad and seven triples. Slutskaya, coming back from a knee injury, had a nearly perfect performance. The Olympic silver medalist and 2002 world champion was an easy winner over world champion Shizuka Arakawa of Japan.

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Tennis

French Open champion Anastasia Myskina pulled Russia into a 1-1 tie with defending champion France at the Fed Cup final in Moscow after U.S. Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova lost the first singles match.

Nathalie Dechy gave France a big lift in the opener of the best-of-five series by defeating Kuznetsova, 3-6, 7-6 (4), 8-6. Myskina then beat Tatiana Golovin, 6-4, 7-6 (5).

Soccer

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Germany won the FIFA Under-19 Women’s World Championship with a 2-0 victory over China at Bangkok, Thailand. The U.S. finished third, beating Brazil, 3-0. Kerri Hanks opened the scoring in the 21st minute. The other goals were scored by Megan Rapinoe and Angie Woznuk.

Passings

Tom Haller, a former catcher and general manager for the San Francisco Giants, died Friday in Los Angeles at 67 after being hospitalized for a type of viral infection in August, his son, Tom Haller Jr., said.

He had a 12-year career in the major leagues as a catcher with the Giants, Dodgers and Detroit Tigers. In a major league first, he was a catcher at Detroit in 1972 while his brother, Bill Haller, was the umpire behind the plate.

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He batted .257 in his 12 seasons with 134 home runs and 504 runs batted in. The highlight of his career was in 1962 when he homered and drove in three runs for the Giants in a World Series game against the New York Yankees.


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