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Winter Olympic briefs

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LUGE: At Altenberg, Germany, Sylke Otto of Germany defended her women's title at the European luge championships, winning by .759 seconds Saturday.

The dominant German's team also captured the men's doubles in heavy snowfall, with Patric Leitner and Alexander Resch finishing two runs in 1 minute 25.338 seconds.

Otto, who has won the last two world championships, broke the track record by .082 seconds in her first heat, finishing in 53.312.

She led a German sweep of the top four places, completing her two runs in 1:46.871. Defending Olympic champion Silke Kraushaar was second at 1:47.630.

"It's good Otto pulled a couple of runs like that out of her hat. Now I know I have to work on my sled before the Olympics," Kraushaar said.

Kraushaar had beaten Otto, her chief rival for Olympic gold at Salt Lake City, in the previous three World Cup events.

Barbara Niedernhuber was third in 1:47.762, followed by Anke Wischnewski at 1:47.967.

In the men's doubles, Tobias and Markus Schiegl of Austria finished second in 1:25.346, followed by Italy's Gerhard Plankensteiner and Oswald Haselrieder of Italy at 1:25.444.

At Mont-Tremblant, Quebec, Eric Bergoust won a World Cup freestyle ski even Saturday, beating Jeff Bean of Canada.

Jacqui Cooper of Australia won the women's event, followed by Alla Tsuper of Belarus and Veronika Bauer of Canada.

MOGULS: At St. Lary, France, Shannon Bahrke (Tahoe City, Calif.) earned her second World Cup moguls podium in two days and Hannah Hardaway (Moultonborough, N.H.) collected her third of the season Sunday, but 1998 Olympian Evan Dybvig (Plainfield, Vt.) ? overcoming a torn right knee ligament?shuffled the men's Olympic selection process with his first podium of the season.

Kari Traa of Norway?whose only loss this winter came Jan. 6 to Bahrke at Obersdorf, Germany, ? made it four wins in five World Cups, setting a women's record with 27.65 points. Bahrke, who clinched her Olympic berth by winning the U.S. Ski Team Gold Cup Dec. 31, hit a heli-X on her top jump and a helicopter at the bottom, good for 26.74 while Hardaway, who has battled back pains all week, threw a double twister and double daffy for 26.25 on the course of machine-made snow.

Ann Battelle (Steamboat Springs, Colo.), aiming for her fourth Olympics, posted her third top-5 of the week, finishing fifth and Donna Weinbrecht (Killington, Vt.) had her third top-10 in eighth place.

DOWNHILL: At Wengen, Switzerland, World Cup leader Stephan Eberharter led an Austrian invasion into the top spots Saturday at the heralded Lauberhorn, one of downhill ski racing's premier events, winning in 2:28.41 with teammates Hannes Trinkl second and Josef (Pepi) Strobl third. Daron Rahlves (Sugar Bowl, Calif.) was top American, finishing ninth.

Outdoor Life Network will televise coverage of the Lauberhorn Monday night at 8 EST.

In the longest downhill of the Cafe de Colombia tour, Eberharter started second on a day in which only one of the top 20 came from outside the first 30 racers, and finished the 4.45-km course in 2:28.41. World champion Hannes Trinkl?racing for the first time since a leg injury in November?was second in 2:28.67 with Strobl, who won the last DH in Wengen two years ago, completing the podium in 2:28.86. Austrians also were 5-6-7.

The top American was Daron Rahlves (Sugar Bowl, Calif.), who finished ninth?his second top-10 of the season, following a sixth in Bormio, Italy, two weeks ago. Rahlves was timed in 2:30.72. Marco Sullivan (Squaw Valley, Calif.) was 44th with Bode Miller (Franconia, N.H.) 45th and Casey Puckett (Aspen, Colo.) disqualified. Miller and Puckett were looking to position themselves for the first combined calculation of the season, blending Saturday's downhill with a slalom Sunday.

"Daron's best section was the bottom; he was fourth in the last section," said coach Dale Stephens. "The rest was okay, not great but okay. It definitely could've been better. The conditions were good and to have three training runs plus a race on this hill, or any time, were outstanding."

Sullivan, in his first full season on the World Cup, "made progress all week but just didn't bring it into today. He made a bad mistake at one point and that really cost him. There's a big righthander [turn] and then right back into a big lefthander?it's a real quick move?and Marco got a little stuck making the switch. But he showed good progress through the week, and he's learning, which is why he's here."

In a related development, Stephens said veteran Chad Fleischer (Vail, Colo.) was expected to fly home in a few days after injuring his right knee in a training crash Thursday. Fleischer, who was bidding for his third Olympics, is done for the season after tearing ligaments, but the coach said it may not be as bad as originally felt. He'll fly to the Steadman-Hawkins Clinic in Vail for further examination surgery.

The Lauberhorn Weekend concludes Sunday with the slalom and the tour heads to Kitzbuehel, Austria, for the annual Hahnenkamm downhill.