Sports Extra

Skiing

Durango’s Tad Elliott leads an American Birkebeiner sweep

HAYWARD, Wis. – Tad Elliott and former Olympian Holly Brooks won the men’s and women’s freestyle races in the American Birkebeiner.

Elliott, a Durango native and last year’s runner-up at the Birkebeiner, led an American sweep of the top three men’s spots in the 50-kilometer race from Cable to Hayward on Saturday.

Brooks of Anchorage, Alaska, edged defending champion Caitlin Gregg by half of a second.

The Duluth News Tribune reported Elliott – a Durango High School alumnus – won in 2 hours, 4 minutes, 48.5 seconds. He was followed by Matthew Liebsch of Orono, Minn., at 2:05:02.3; and Brian Gregg of Minneapolis at 2:05:03.4.

Brooks’ winning time was 2:18:53.2. Caitlin Gregg, who is Brian’s wife, finished at 2:18:53.7. Jennie Bender of Maple Plain, Minn., finished third in 2:21:46.4.

World Cup Skiing

Raich super in super-G win; Miller skips weekend races

CRANS-MONTANA, Switzerland – Austrian veteran Benjamin Raich got his first World Cup victory in more than two years Saturday, winning a super-G, while favorite Didier Cuche finished third.

Raich clocked 1 minute, 34.37 seconds on the Nationale course. Adrien Theaux of France was runner-up, 0.24 seconds back, and Cuche trailed Raich by 0.36.

Bode Miller was sidelined for a second consecutive day, resting his left knee after undergoing minor knee surgery in the United States this week. Miller also will miss today’s giant slalom.

Downhill canceled by wind; super-G today in Bulgaria

BANSKO, Bulgaria – A women’s World Cup downhill was canceled because of strong wind and won’t be rescheduled.

The decision to scrub the last women’s downhill of the season was made after the original start time was postponed three times with wind gusting up to 80 mph. That means the current top 25 in the standings will compete in the World Cup finals next month in Schladming, Austria.

The super-G is scheduled today, with less wind expected.

Auto Racing

From 11th to 1st on last lap, Buescher wins at Daytona

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – James Buescher was the surprise winner of the Nationwide Series opener at Daytona International Speedway.

Buescher was in 11th place as he rounded the final turn but dodged and weaved through a massive wreck involving all the leaders.

Tony Stewart charged to the top of the track to make a run at the lead. He was being pushed by Elliott Sadler, and their run made it three-wide across the track.

It appeared leader Kurt Busch began to drive up the track to block the two lanes of traffic, and it triggered an 11-car accident. Buescher drove low through the accident and around the spinning cars to win his first NASCAR race.

Buescher’s victory came a day after unknown John King won the Truck Series season-opener.

Golf

McIlroy, Westwood will play for No. 1 world ranking

MARANA, Ariz. – Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood set up a high-stakes showdown in the semifinals of the Match Play Championship.

Westwood erased an early deficit to beat Martin Laird 3 and 2. McIlroy never trailed in beating Bae Sang-moon of South Korea by the same margin Saturday. They’ll play each other in this morning’s semifinals, each with a shot at No. 1 in the world if they win this World Golf Championship.

Hunter Mahan played the shortest quarterfinal match in the 14-year history of this event in beating Matt Kuchar 6 and 5. He will play Mark Wilson, who had an easy time in his 4-and-3 win over Peter Hanson of Sweden.

Associated Press