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Countdown to Salt Lake City: 2002 Olympics preview

Los Angeles Times staff writer

Alpine skiing: The men's World Cup tour is in Kitzbuehel, Austria, for super-giant slalom, downhill and slalom races this weekend. Five U.S. skiers finished in the top 25 last weekend in a World Cup slalom at Wengen, Switzerland. Erik Schlopy's 11th-place finish was a season best. ... The women will compete in a giant slalom race at Berchtesgaden, Germany, Saturday and Sunday. The U.S. Olympic team will be announced Jan. 28.

Biathlon/cross-country: U.S. Olympians Jay Hakkinen and Jeremy Teela finished 43rd and 45th, respectively, at a World Cup 12.5K pursuit event at Oberhof, Germany. ... Soon-to-be four-time cross-country Olympian Nina Kemppel of Anchorage, Alaska, won her 18th national title in the women's 30-kilometer classic at Bohart Ranch, Mont. John Bauer of Duluth, Minn., won the men's 50-kilometer classic race, after having won the 10K classic and the pursuit race.

Bobsled/luge/skeleton: Todd Hays and his crew, who won a World Cup race in St. Moritz, Switzerland, last weekend, will skip the rest of the World Cup season and return to the U.S. to train for the Games. Brian Shimer and his crew, sixth at St. Moritz, also will train at home. ... Sylke Otto of Germany, a two-time luge world champion, won her second consecutive European championship last weekend at Altenberg, Germany. Otto and her compatriots won the first four places. In men's doubles, the German team of Patric Leitner and Alexander Resch were the winners. ... The next stop on the men's World Cup bobsled tour is Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy, this weekend, while the lugers are at Sigulda, Latvia. The World Cup skeleton finale will be staged today at St. Moritz.

Curling: The early leader for goofiest injury of the year goes to Kelley Law. She strained a tendon in her left foot during a social function connected with a tournament last weekend but is expected to heal in time to compete at Salt Lake City. ... The U.S. women's team is training in Bemidji, Minn. The U.S. men will compete in a tournament in Winnipeg, Canada.

Figure skating: Two-time Olympic silver medalist Elvis Stojko won his seventh national title last week at the Canadian championships, at Hamilton. Stojko earned his fourth Olympic berth and vowed to try an unprecedented quadruple lutz at Salt Lake City. Ice dancers Shae-Lynn Bourne and Victor Kraatz earned 15 perfect 6.0s at the competition, but world pairs champions Jamie Sale and David Pelletier didn't skate well. Pelletier yelled at his partner and their coach after their long program, but later apologized.

Freestyle skiing: Eric Bergoust won one World Cup aerials event and finished third in another last weekend at Mount Tremblant, Canada. Emily Cook had the best results among the U.S. women, with sixth- and ninth-place finishes. ... Shannon Bahrke of Tahoe City, Calif., was on the moguls medal podium twice at St. Lary, France. Evan Dybvig, who tore a ligament in his right knee in November, finished third in the men's event.

Hockey: Injuries have altered the lineups of several teams in the men's tournament. With Peter Forsberg out because of ankle surgery, Sweden must find another center to supplement Mats Sundin. U.S. forward Scott Young had surgery to repair a retinal tear and is questionable for the Games, Russia's Pavel Bure broke his left hand and might need surgery, and Canada's captain, Mario Lemieux, only recently returned from hip surgery. Lemieux said he intends to play at Salt Lake City. ... The U.S. women's team, 27-0-0, resumes play Tuesday at San Jose in the first of four consecutive games against China. Those are Team USA's last warmup games.

Nordic combined/ski jumping: Felix Gottwald of Austria won his sixth nordic combined event of the season, a 10-kilometer race at Ramsau, Austria. Gottwald passed Ronny Ackermann of Germany for the World Cup points lead. Bill Demong of Vermontville, N.Y., recorded a career-best seventh-place finish, one place behind Todd Lodwick of Steamboat Springs, Colo. ... Sven Hannawald of Germany tied a record with his fifth consecutive World Cup victory at Willingen, Germany.

Snowboarding: Six athletes qualified for the U.S. Olympic halfpipe team Sunday at Breckenridge, Colo. Another man might be added after the last two parallel giant slalom qualifiers later this month. Ross Powers, Danny Kass and Tommy Czeschin won the three men's spots, with Kelly Clark, Shannon Dunn and Tricia Byrnes taking the women's spots. The last women's spot came down to a third tiebreaker between Byrnes and Gretchen Bleiler, with Byrnes winning because she had a higher ranking according to the International Ski Federation and International Snowboard Federation.

Speedskating: KC Boutiette, Jondon Trevena and Catherine Raney were added to the long track Olympic team. Boutiette and Trevena will compete in the 5,000 and Raney in the 3,000. Derek Parra of San Bernardino, already qualified in the 1,500, will also skate the 5,000. ... Casey Fitz Randolph won his sixth World Cup medal with a second-place finish in a 500-meter race at Heerenveen, the Netherlands. That's the most medals by a U.S. skater this season. The U.S. women's leader is Jennifer Rodriguez, with five medals.

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