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The Inside Track | MORNING BRIEFING

This Kind of Cold Will Turn You to Mush

January 20, 2006|Pete Thomas | Times Staff Writer

Lance Mackey won the Copper Basin 300 sled dog race in Alaska with a time of 49 hours 18 minutes. It's billed as the world's most grueling mid-distance race -- not only because it sends mushers high into the Alaska Range, but because temperatures dip to 30 below zero.

Clearly, the participants are not in it for the money. Mackey's take was $6,100, barely enough to cover the cost of dog food.

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Doggone cold: While Mackey was recuperating in bed, his wife, Tonya, told the Anchorage Daily News that the team was inspired to go faster by the ever-changing scenery.

"He thought they had a little attitude on the trail," she said.

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Trivia time: The Nissan Open, scheduled Feb. 16-19 at Riviera Country Club, is celebrating its 80th anniversary. Who won the inaugural event?

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Move over, Bode: The San Francisco Chronicle's Scott Ostler, on the obscure Olympic sport of skeleton and the troubled U.S. team's prospects: "The U.S. skeleton sliders are shaping up as a compelling and dramatic story at the Turin Olympics. When you look at the major questions, aside from 'How many tequila shooters can Bode Miller shoot and still finish the race with his head above snow?,' the big question right now is, 'Can American sliders still slide?' "

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Hair-raising: Zach Lund, the world's top-ranked slider, has been suspended after testing positive for a banned substance found in Propecia, an anti-baldness product. Ostler was sympathetic:

"A skeleton rider can't go the comb-over route because on an 80-mph sled run, his hair could get blown back and snagged on a tree branch, and you'd hate to see that happen."

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Spinning his wheels: Former motorcycle champion Max Biaggi made a test drive with Formula One team Midland at Silverstone, England, this week, and while he called it "an amazing experience," it doesn't look like he'll be changing disciplines.

"It's like a big go-kart," said Biaggi, who then went on explain why he preferred racing on two wheels. "On a bike, I am free -- it's like dancing on it to make it go fast. In an F1 car, you are strapped in very tight, which is a weird sensation for me."

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Political football: David Thomas of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram broke a written vow not to write about politics with this line about the missed field-goal attempt by the Colts' Mike Vanderjagt, which would have sent Sunday's game against the Steelers into overtime:

"He kicked it so far to the right that the ball landed in Jerry Falwell's lap."

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Predictable: Champ Bailey said on ESPN radio before the season that the Denver Broncos would have 22 interceptions by season's end. The number now stands at ... 22.

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Trivia answer: Harry Cooper, who earned $3,500 for his triumph at Los Angeles Country Club in 1926. First prize this year: $918,000.

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And finally: Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times: "Eat your heart out, Robert Redford. The closest thing to 'The Natural' in baseball these days is the San Francisco Giants' aptly named dentist. Les Plack."

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