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  • World Champs Wrapup -- Luge, Handball, Winter X Games


    Luge Team Relay Canceled

    ST Sportservice, the technology partner of the International Luge Federation (FIL) said it accepted responsibility for the cancellation of the team relay at the luge world championships on Sunday in Cesana, Italy.
    Armin Zoeggler celebrating his world championship title. (FIL)

    A statement on the FIL website says “first information errors” were discovered on Sunday, and the exact cause of the errors are being investigated by the company.

    Josef Fendt, president of FIL said “That’s simply the risk you take if you try something new to further develop a sport.

    "We have staged five Team Relays with altogether more than 60 runs this winter. During the relay events a total of about 180 runs took place, and not once did we have a technical problem with the time keeping.

    “Even though it is no consolation at the moment, you can’t do anything about a technical breakdown.”

    The federation was using the event to showcase the team relay event for possible Olympic inclusion. IOC president Jacques Rogge will decide which of the 10 proposed disciplines will join the Olympic program following the winter sport season.

    An IOC delegation was present to observe the event, and Rogge will attend the world cup final in Sigulda, Latvia.

    "Standstill means a step backwards," Fendt said at FIL headquarters in Berchtesgaden, Germany on Monday. 

    "That’s why we look forward optimistically to the World Cup final in Sigulda and are hopeful to be able to solve the problems that occurred at Cesana in close cooperation with our partner.”

    Competition concluded Sunday with two-time gold medalist Armin Zoeggler of Italy winning his fifth world title and first since 2005. Vancouver gold medalist Felix Loch of Germany finished second. Fellow countryman Andi Langenhan won bronze. Vancouver silver medalist David Moeller finished fourth.

    In the women’s event, German Olympic champion Tatjana Hueffner continued her good form, claiming the women’s crown for the third time. Natalie Geisenberger of Germany added a world championships silver medal to the Vancouver bronze. Alex Gough of Canada won the country’s first women’s world championship medal when she took home bronze. Olympic silver medalist Nina Reithmayer of Austria finished fourth.

    The Linger brothers of Austria, Andreas and Wolfgang won the doubles event. They won the last two Olympic golds. Italian team Christian Oberstolz-Patrick Guber claimed silver. Olympic runners-up Andris Sics and Juris Sics of Latvia took bronze.

    Cesana was the venue for the 2006 Olympic luge event.

    France Wins Handball Championships

    The French handball team had a meeting with president Nicolas Sarkozy at the Elysee Palace on Monday. (Getty Images)
    France is the world’s best men’s handball team—again.

    The country retained the world champ gold and won their third title over Denmark, 37-35 in extra time on Sunday. Organizers called it “the most exciting” final in decades.

    With the win, France qualified for the 2012 Olympics, and 2013 championships in Spain. France will hope their luck continues to London, and they can repeat as gold medalists.

    Spain defeated hosts Sweden for the bronze.

    Competition started Jan. 13.

    The women’s world championships takes place in Brazil Dec. 3 – 16.

    White Stumbles in Slopestyle, Hits Back on Halfpipe

    Snowboarding superstar Shaun White has the double McTwist 1260 to thank for his Winter X Games SuperPipe four-peat.
    Shaun White returned to form at the Winter X Games on Sunday. (Getty Images)

    That same move put the exclamation point on White’s gold medal performance last year in Vancouver, his second Winter Games win.

    Olympic bronze medalist Scott Lago snagged silver in Sunday’s SuperPipe final despite breaking his jaw just weeks ago in a backcountry crash.

    “It’s better than the run I put down at the Olympics,” Lago told reporters of his showing Sunday night.

    Peetu Piiroinen of Finland was sixth despite his silver medal finish in Vancouver. Louie Vito of the U.S. rounded out the medal table in Aspen, Colorado.

    On the women’s pipe, Vancouver bronze medalist won gold in Saturday’s final. Kaitlyn Farrington and Elena Hight rounded out the podium in the absence of Australian Torah Bright, who won Olympic gold last year but did not compete last week.

    For much of the week, the story out of Aspen was White’s failure to qualify for the slopestyle final as the event vies for addition to the Olympic program.

    White’s performance on the pipe certainly silenced any critics claiming he’d lost his touch, but his slopestyle sloppiness couldn’t have helped the event’s exposure ahead of Sochi 2014.

    Tennis Olympians Start 2011 Strong

    Beijing bronze medalist Novak Djokovic is the men’s Australian Open champion.
    Novak Djokovic won his second Australian Open. (Getty Images)

    A month after leading Serbia to its first-ever Davis Cup title, Djokovic beat doubles gold medalist Roger Federer in the semifinals and Scotland’s Andy Murray in Sunday’s final. Murray lost in the first round of the Beijing tournament.

    Olympic singles champion Rafael Nadal was ousted by Spanish countryman David Ferrer in the quarterfinals, ending his quest for four straight Grand Slam titles. Chile’s Fernando Gonzalez, who won gold in Athens and silver in Beijing, did not enter the tournament.

    On the women’s side, Olympic champion Elena Dementieva retired from the game late last year, while Aussie Open champ Kim Clijsters was herself retired at the time of the Beijing Summer Games.

    Clijsters dispatched defending silver medalist Dinara Safina of Russia 6-0, 6-0 in the first round and Li Na of China in the three-set final to capture her fourth Grand Slam title and third since her 2009 comeback.

    In doubles action, Beijing bronze medalists Bob and Mike Bryan of the U.S. won their third straight Australian Open. Defending Olympic champs Venus and Serena Williams did not compete. Venus bowed out early in the singles, while Serena is sidelined with a foot injury.

    The Australian Open is not a world championship for tennis, but is one of the four Grand Slams, the premier events in the tennis calendar.

    Homepage photo by Getty Images.

    Written by Ed Hula III and Matthew Grayson.

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