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Winter Sports Roundup

December 23, 2001|From Staff and Wire reports

Bode Miller fell near the bottom of the course at Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, and lost the World Cup men's slalom race and his lead in the standings.

Twice a winner earlier this month, Miller dropped to fifth in the discipline.

Among those who passed him were Jean Pierre Vidal of France, who won the race.

Miller, of Franconia, N.H., also missed a chance to gain ground on overall World Cup leader Stephan Eberharter of Austria.

Eberharter, who did not race, has 580 points to 420 by Miller, second in the overall.

Miller posted the fastest time at the top split in the first of two runs. But he hit a gate and went down on the lower portion of the course that also claimed defending slalom champion Benjamin Raich of Austria.

Erik Schlopy of Park City was the top-finishing American at 17th.

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Italian Karen Putzer might not be among the big winners on the World Cup tour, but she's an ace at this demanding course high in the Swiss Alps.

On Saturday, when just finishing the women's super-giant slalom at St. Moritz, Switzerland, could be considered an accomplishment, Putzer won for the second year in a row.

The troublesome Engiadina course--where six of the first 10 skiers fell--is the only one on the circuit where Putzer has won.

"It's true it was a technically demanding course," Putzer said. "It was a really difficult course. But my coach told me before the race which were the difficult gates, so I knew what to expect."

So did American Kristen Clark, who tied for third with Austrian Stefanie Schuster.

"I was on the chairlift when the first skiers went, and I saw two, three, four and five all go out," Clark said. "So I spoke to my coach, who said I had to ski smart but still be aggressive.

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Shani Davis became the first African American to qualify for the U.S. Olympic speedskating team in a race tinged with controversy after he beat close friend and World Cup champion Apolo Anton Ohno at Kearns, Utah.

Davis went right to the lead of the 1,000-meter short-track final and stayed there, holding off Ohno and two other skaters in the last race of the Olympic trials.

Davis, 19, jumped from eighth to sixth in the standings to grab the last berth for the Salt Lake Games.

Ohno, who won the first seven races of the trials, stayed back in third and never made a serious push for the lead, shying away from the daring passes he used in his victories.

Ohno denied that he was more concerned about Davis getting on the team than winning.

"I played it safe," the 19-year-old skater from Seattle said. "He ran his own race."

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Polish ski jumper Adam Malysz soared to his second win in two days and sixth World Cup victory of the season, taking the individual K120 event at Predazzo, Italy.... Per Elofsson won the men's 30-kilometer freestyle race at Ramsau, Austria, for his second World Cup victory of the season, while Kristina Smigun earned her first in the women's 15-kilometer race.

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