Sports Digest

SPORTS DIGEST

November 26, 2006

Swiss figure skater Meier wins Cup of Russia over Sebestyen

Sarah Meier of Switzerland easily won the free skate event to wrap up the overall gold medal at the Cup of Russia yesterday in Moscow.

Meier started the day in third place after the short program. She performed all her jumps well except for doubling a triple lutz.

Meier finished with 159.17 points, ahead of Julia Sebestyen of Hungary with 146.75. Japan's Yoshie Onda was third with 143.60.

"I knew I had to try everything to move up," Meier said. Sebestyen, who led after the short program and won this year's Cup of China, finished fifth in free skate after mistakes that included stepping out of a triple lutz.

Onda fell on her triple salchow and wobbled two other landings but her program was solid enough to win bronze.

American Alissa Czisny took ninth overall with 121.21 points. She finished 10th in the free skate.

Bel Air's Kimmie Meissner, who did not skate in Russia, is sixth in the Grand Prix standings with one event remaining before the Grand Prix Final on Dec. 14-17 in St. Petersburg, Russia. The top six in the standings after the NHK Trophy, to be held Nov. 30-Dec. 4 in Nagano, Japan, will qualify for the Grand Prix Final.

In the men's event yesterday, Brian Joubert of France took his second Grand Prix gold of the year, beating out American Johnny Weir.

Germany's Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy took the pairs gold with 179.45 despite finishing second in the free skate behind Russian veterans Maria Petrova and Alexei Tikhonov, who got an overall 178.03.

Tanith Belbin and Benjamin Agosto of the United States moved to the top of the ice dancing field after the original dance at the Cup of Russia.

The American pair won the original dance with 58.02 and lead overall with 94.58.

Pro football

Report: Cutler to start for Broncos

Denver Broncos coach Mike Shanahan plans to make Jay Cutler his starting quarterback for next Sunday's game against the Seattle Seahawks, The Denver Post reported, citing sources close to the situation. Cutler, a rookie from Vanderbilt, will replace veteran Jake Plummer, who started the Broncos' previous 46 games, including playoffs, dating to the 2003 season. The immediate reasons for making the switch are hardly complicated. Despite a 7-4 overall record, the Broncos are coming off possibly their worst all-around performance this season, a 19-10 loss on the road Thursday against the Kansas City Chiefs, and appear in need of a jolt after losing two in a row for the first time in two years. Entering games today, Plummer is ranked 29th among NFL quarterbacks with a 70.5 rating. He has thrown 12 interceptions against 11 touchdown passes, and has a relatively meager 6.33 yards per pass attempt. The plan is to make the change permanent. Plummer is expected to finish the season as a No. 2 quarterback for the first time in his 10-year career.

Auto racing

Amputee Zanardi takes F1 test drive

Alex Zanardi, who lost both legs in a crash five years ago, completed his return to Formula One by becoming the first double amputee to test drive an F1 car. The 40-year-old Italian drove 14 laps in a modified BMW-Sauber C24-B car at the Cheste circuit in Valencia, Spain. "It's fantastic," Zanardi said. "When I dropped my visor, the emotions were very heavy. It was pure pleasure being back in a fantastic race car. I do understand this is about much more than just driving a racecar. To put a guy with no legs in an F1 car is something very special." Zanardi, who last drove an F1 car in 1999, lost his legs in a racing crash in September 2001 in the CART series, now known as the Champ Car World Series. His smiling eyes were matched by the grin on his face when he drove into the garage. He was helped out of the car and embraced by BMW Motorsports director Mario Theissen. Though Zanardi had an unspectacular F1 career, he holds the CART records for most consecutive poles (six), front-row starts (11) and top-three finishes in a season (15).

Horse racing

Discreet Cat takes Cigar Mile

Discreet Cat stretched his unbeaten streak to six by winning the $300,000 Cigar Mile by 3 1/4 lengths at Aqueduct in New York. Discreet Cat cleared the field an eighth of mile from the finish line and cruised to victory. Jockey Garrett Gomez showed the 3-year-old horse the whip in the lane but never used it. Discreet Cat ran the one mile on the fast track in 1:32.46, a stakes record that came close to Easy Goer's track record of 1:32.40, set in 1989.

Cycling

Report: Manzano was offered bribe

Former Spanish cyclist Jesus Manzano, who triggered a police probe two years ago by claiming widespread doping in the sport, told police he was offered a bribe to withdraw his allegations, a leading newspaper said. Spanish daily El Pais said the former Kelme racer, who has admitted using blood doping treatments, lodged a formal complaint about the alleged bribe to police investigators Nov. 14.

Et cetera

Wlodarczyk tops Cunningham for title

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