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Sochi Games torch is taken for a spacewalk

An Olympic torch was taken for a spacewalk for the first time Saturday, carefully held by two Russian cosmonauts outside the International Space Station as it orbited about 260 miles above Earth.

Video streamed by NASA showed Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazanskiy carrying the unlit torch of next year’s Sochi Games. The torch bobbed weightlessly at the end of a tether in a darkness dotted by stars.

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The two maneuvered to take photos of the torch against the background of the planet, the orb’s edge glowing with sunrise.

They then returned the torch to the space station before continuing with other tasks on a spacewalk that was to last about six hours.

The torch was launched into space from the Russian-operated Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Thursday. It will return to Earth with a three-man crew Monday.

The torch will not burn aboard the space outpost because lighting it would consume oxygen and pose a threat to the crew.

The Olympic torch was taken aboard the U.S. space shuttle Atlantis in 1996 before the Atlanta Summer Olympics, but this is the first time it has been taken outside in space.

The Sochi Olympic flame started its relay Oct. 7, four months ahead of the Winter Games.

Auto racing

Busch cruises to victory

Another Nationwide Series race, another Kyle Busch victory.

Busch won for the 12th time this season in NASCAR’s second-tier series; he led a race-high 169 laps in the ServiceMaster 200 and beat runner-up Justin Allgaier by 4.347 seconds at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Ariz.

Busch set a Nationwide record when he won 13 races in 2010. Despite being winless last year, he has a record 63 victories in the series.

Series leader Austin Dillon finished third and has an eight-point lead over Sam Hornish Jr., who was fifth, heading into next weekend’s finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Florida.


Federer reaches semis

Roger Federer of Switzerland fought back to reach the semifinals in the ATP World Tour Finals in London.

The 17-time Grand Slam tournament winner overcame a 3-0 deficit in the third set to beat Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina 4-6, 7-6 (7-2), 7-5 to reach the semifinals of the eight-man tournament for the 11th time.

Federer earned a chance to show — despite his aging legs, aching back and recent lack of consistency — he can still beat Spaniard Rafael Nadal, his semifinal opponent.

Novak Djokovic of Serbia will play Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland in the other semifinal Sunday. The final is Monday.

In other news involving tournament players, coach Riccardo Piatti told Richard Gasquet of France he will no longer work with him.


• South Korea’s Lee Sang-hwa surpassed her world speedskating record in the 500 meters in a World Cup event at the Olympic Oval in Calgary, Alberta. Lee finished in 36.74 seconds to beat the record of 36.80 she set in Calgary on Jan. 20.

• In figure skating, the NHK Trophy in Tokyo had familiar outcomes.

Daisuke Takahashi of Japan won the men’s title for the fifth time and Mao Asada of Japan earned her fourth title.

Asada was first after the short program and won the free skate. Coupled with her victory at Skate America, Asada secured a berth in the Grand Prix final next month in Fukuoka, Japan.

Seattle Times news services

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