Hufner wins final luge World Cup meet
SOCHI, Russia (AP) -- Olympic luge champion Tatjana Hufner edged out two other Germans to win the women's singles in the final World Cup meet of the season, a test event for the Sochi Winter Games next year.
World champions Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt of Germany won the men's doubles, beating compatriots Peter Penz and Georg Fischer by 0.134 seconds. Olympic silver medalists Andris Sics and Juris Sics of Latvia were third.
The Saturday runs came under difficult conditions, with air temperature around 50 degrees in light rain. Despite the poor weather and previous complaints about ice quality at the Sanki track, athletes expressed satisfaction with the ice and track design.
Natalie Geisenberger, the current world champion and Olympic bronze medalist, finished second in the women's race, but had already won the overall World Cup before the competition started. Anke Wischnewski was third.
Wendl and Arlt also came to Sochi knowing they already had the World Cup, but "this is the Olympic track and we had to do our best," Arlt said.
Geisenberger had the fastest women's time of the day at 50.894 seconds in the first run, but Hufner's two-run combined time of 1 minute 41.922 seconds was 0.038 faster. Wischnewski placed second in the overall World Cup standings and Hufner was third.
Although bobsledders and skeleton riders had complained about rough ice at the Sanki track earlier in February, Saturday's sliders gave it good reviews.
"It is maybe my favorite track," Hufner said after her win. "It has its character."
Luge is still shadowed by the death of Georgia's Nodar Kumaritashvili in a training run at Whistler for the 2010 Olympics. The Sanki track addresses some of the safety concerns that arose after Kumaritashvili's death, including three negative slopes that slow sliders' speed slightly.
"I think the track is rather safe. There were no major falls" during training or competition, Hufner said.
American Emily Sweeney fell in the first run Saturday after going sideways in a curve. She struggled back onto her sled and ended up crossing the finish line headfirst.
"I've probably had the worst ride today of anybody, and I felt safe," she said.
Wischnewski added: "I think the track forgives some mistakes."
However, Sweeney noted that the negative slopes on the 16-curve track might be a disadvantage for some.
"As one of the smaller athletes, let's say it doesn't work in my favor," she said.
Complaints arose at the bobsled and skeleton World Cup meet at Sanki about poor ice quality, but the women sliders said those failings apparently had been ironed out.
"We had heard a lot about that and we were sitting in Calgary dreading coming here," Canada's Arianne Jones said. "You can tell they put in a lot of work and there are no problems at all."
VAL DI FIEMME, Italy (AP) -- Norwegian ski jumper Anders Bardal won his first major title on Saturday by taking gold in the normal hill event at the Nordic skiing world championships.
Bardal had the longest jump of the day with 103.5 meters in the first round and finished with a total of 252.6 points. Overall World Cup leader Gregor Schlierenzauer of Austria was 4.2 points back in second and Peter Prevc of Slovenia was third.
Schlierenzauer's coach decided to start him lower down the ramp in an attempt to pick up valuable bonus points. H was the only top-eight finisher who failed to get at least one jump past the 100-meter mark.
Defending champion Thomas Morgenstern was fifth.
INAWASHIRO, Japan (AP) -- Mikael Kingsbury of Canada and Audrey Robichaud won World Cup mogul races in Japan on Saturday.
Kingsbury, the defending World Cup champion, scored 23.41 points to secure his sixth title this season. Bradley Wilson of the United States was second, followed by Alex Bilodeau of Canada.
After eight of 12 events, Kingsbury leads the standings with 705 points. Bilodeau follows with 513 and Patrick Deneen of the United States is third with 443.
Robichaud won her first title of the season in the women's event, scoring 20.62 points to finish ahead of Nikola Sudova of the Czech Republic and Chloe Dufour-Lapointe of Canada.
Justine Dufour-Lapointe of Canada, who leads the mogul standings with 478 points, was fourth.
VAL DI FIEMME, Italy (AP) -- Marit Bjoergen successfully defended another title at the Nordic skiing world championships, winning the 15-kilometer pursuit skiathlon on Saturday.
Bjoergen sped clear of Therese Johaug coming into the stadium to cross the line in 39 minutes, 4.4 seconds. Johaug was 3.4 seconds back to take silver, while Heidi Weng beat Kristin Stoermer Steira in a sprint for the bronze medal.
The 32-year-old Bjoergen, a three-time Olympic champion, won her third individual sprint world title on Thursday. This was her 10th world title overall.
Switzerland's Dario Cologna won the men's 30-kilometer pursuit skiathlon, edging out Norwegians Martin Johnsrud Sundby and Sjur Roethe.
Cologna, who leads the overall World Cup standings, won in 1 hour, 13 minutes and 19.3 seconds, beating Sundby by 1.8 seconds. Roethe was 2.0 seconds behind the winner.
MOSCOW (AP) -- Stanislav Detkov of Russia and Caroline Calve of Canada won parallel slalom races on Saturday for their first snowboard World Cup victories of the season.
On a huge ramp in downtown Moscow, Detkov edged Nevin Galmarini of Italy in the men's final while Calve beat Aleksandra Krol of Poland for the women's title.
Roland Fischnaller edged Justin Reiter of the United States for third and claimed the overall discipline title with 2,200 points. Zan Kosir of Slovenia had 1,617 points for second, while Aaron March of Italy finished third. This was the last parallel slalom events of the season.
Ekaterina Tudegesheva of Russia finish third in the women's event, while a quarterfinal appearance was enough for Patrizia Kummer of Switzerland to claim the discipline title with 1,690 points. Amelie Kober of Germany was 90 points behind for second, while Calve was third.
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