Slutskaya poised to set record in Europe

By wire services
Published January 19, 2006

LYON, France - Irina Slutskaya captured the short program Wednesday, putting the Russian in position to win and overtake Katarina Witt and Sonia Henie with her seventh title at the European Championships.

Slutskaya skated early but her score of 66.04 points held up for nearly five hours. Russia's Elena Sokolova was second at 60.88, followed by Switzerland's Sarah Meier at 60.87.

The long program is today. If Slutskaya wins, she will break the European record she shares with Witt and Henie, two of figure skating's greatest names.

"I don't think about it," Slutskaya said. "It is still a hard competition I just want to give my best. It is not the reason why I'm coming here."

JURISPRUDENCE: Suspended coach Tim Nardiello and the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation were in an arbitration hearing for nine hours with no resolution. The sides will resume their hearing today, and could continue into Friday.

Both Nardiello - who is seeking reinstatement as the national skeleton team coach - and the federation said they will withhold comment until the arbitrator issues a ruling.

AUTOS: Family settles suit

A family has settled its lawsuit against Ford Motor Co. stemming from a rear-end collision where a limousine erupted into flames, killing the wife of a former NASCAR crew chief and her two sisters, lawyers for both sides said. Neither side would disclose terms ending a wrongful-death lawsuit over the safety of the fuel-tank system in Lincoln Town Car limousines.

The three women were stopped in traffic on Sept. 10, 2003, after attending a concert. A pickup truck driven by Jeffrey Niles McFayden rammed into the back of their limousine, which exploded almost immediately and trapped them inside.

Tara Howell Parker, 29, her stepsister Mysti Howell Poplin, 24, and her half sister Megan Elizabeth Howell, 16, died of smoke inhalation and burns suffered in the fire. Parker was the wife of NASCAR driver Dale Jarrett's former crew chief.

SOCCER: Bulgaria cancels training in Turkey due to bird flu

Bird flu prompted at least three Bulgarian soccer teams to call off their regular winter training in Turkey.

League leader CSKA-Sofia, Litex Lovech and Naftex were to have held training camps in the Turkish resort of Antalya.

U.S. MOVES UP: The U.S. national soccer team advanced one place to No. 7 in FIFA's rankings for January. Brazil maintained the top spot it has held since July 2002, a month after it won its record fifth World Cup. The next three teams also were unchanged - Czech Republic, Netherlands and Argentina. France shared fifth with Spain.

FOUR NATIONS: Kristine Lilly scored the opening goal in her world-record 300th international game, leading the United States past Norway 3-1 at the Four Nations tournament.

WSII PUSHES FOR WOMEN'S PRO SOCCER: If Women's Soccer Initiative Inc. is successful, the likely time for a women's professional league to be relaunched would be in spring 2007. The season would run through August, similar to the WUSA. WSII head Tonya Antonucci said the company is in serious discussions with some sponsor markets, adding a relaunch would include at least eight teams.


CYCLING: Simon Gerrans won the opening stage of the Tour Down Under, finishing two seconds ahead of Luis Sanchez. Gerrans finished in 3 hours, 38 minutes and 33 seconds. Robbie McEwen was 11 seconds behind in third, followed by William Walker.

SAILING: With three-time America's Cup winner Russell Coutts calling tactics, Mascalzone Latino sailed to the top of the Farr 40 class at the Key West 2006 regatta.