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In brief

Alinghi to face New Zealand in final

By VERA FILIPELLI, TIMES WIRES

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 20, 2003


AUCKLAND, New Zealand -- Once again, the America's Cup is not going back to America.

Switzerland's Alinghi beat San Francisco's Oracle 5-1 in the challenger final, earning the right to face defending champion Team New Zealand.

Despite the lopsided score in the best-of-nine series, Alinghi and Oracle produced some of the best racing in years. Alinghi made the most of wind shifts, penalties and equipment failures to capture the Louis Vuitton Cup, ending a four-month challenger series that began Oct. 1 and involved nine boats.

Alinghi, led by Russell Coutts, faces Team New Zealand in the best-of-nine final beginning Feb. 15. New Zealand has won the past two America's Cup regattas with Coutts at the helm.

"We've expected that we'd be facing them for quite some time," Team New Zealand syndicate head Tom Schnackenberg said. "They're sailing very well, and they'll be well-rested, so I think it's going to be a great series."

BOXING: Tszyu retains title

Kostya Tszyu retained his undisputed super-lightweight title in Melbourne when "Jesse" James Leija was unable to start the seventh round because of an injured right ear drum.

Tszyu, the IBF, WBC and WBA champion, improved to 30-1-1.

The Russian-born Australian fought for the first time in Australia since stopping Calvin Grove in May 1998 in Newcastle. In Tszyu's previous fight, he successfully defended his titles by outpointing Ben Tackie in Las Vegas.

Leija, from San Antonio, Texas, dropped to 43-6-2. He said he hurt his ear in the fourth or fifth round and that it hurt his balance.

OLYMPICS: IOC member wants probe

The United States' senior International Olympic Committee member is calling for an independent investigation of the controversy surrounding Lloyd Ward, the CEO of the U.S. Olympic Committee. In a letter to members of the executive committee, Anita DeFrantz suggested such a review "was the best and probably the only way to heal this organization and resuscitate its good name."

The USOC has been embroiled in internal turmoil since its ethics oversight committee decided Ward had not violated its ethics code by asking staff to help his brother's firm get a power-generator contract for this summer's Pan American Games.

Five USOC officials, including three on the ethics committee, have resigned since the executive committee voted 18-3 Jan. 13 to endorse the ethics committee report. Two U.S. senators have asked USOC leaders to come to Washington for an informal inquiry.

WINTER SPORTS:

SKIING: After nearly falling on the first run, Bode Miller changed equipment and his plan of attack in the slalom and reclaimed the lead of the overall World Cup standings in Wengen, Switzerland. The American finished 11th in the slalom behind Italy's Giorgio Rocca and placed second in the combined, moving past Stephan Eberharter in the standings. Miller collected 104 points, raising his season total to 858, 43 more than Eberharter.

SNOWBOARDING: American Seth Westcott finished second in the bordercross final to Xavier Delerue at the World Championships in Kreischberg, Austria. Westcott was the second American to win a medal. Steven Fisher placed third in the halfpipe.

ET CETERA

AUTOS: Winston Cup champion Tony Stewart was named the winner of the 2002 Richard Petty Driver of the Year award at the National Motorsports Press Association convention in Winston-Salem, N.C.

GREYHOUNDS: Solitary Cal, the favorite who finished last in the Puppy Preview Jan. 11 at Derby Lane, rebounded to win by 11 lengths Saturday. Fair Wind, the only previously unbeaten top-grade performer, was crowded early and finished sixth. Two juveniles remain undefeated: Greys Man Of War, entered in Race 6 this afternoon, and Husker Dominator, who runs later this week. Derby Lane is simulcasting racing from Dublin, Ireland, daily. Post time begins at 3 p.m. The $85,000 Sprint Classic, offering the largest purse over the five-sixteenths-mile course, begins Saturday. The final is scheduled for Feb. 8.

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