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Sled-dog racing

Iditarod mushers start in Willow

A New Zealander was the first musher en route to Nome when the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race had its official start Sunday in Willow, Alaska.

Curt Perano and 68 other mushers began the sport’s most famous event by crossing frozen Willow Lake. It was a staggered start, with one musher leaving every two minutes.

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Standing between the mushers and the finish line on Front Street in Nome are about 1,000 miles of unforgiving Alaska terrain, including two mountain ranges, untamed wilderness, the Yukon River and the wind-whipped Bering Sea coast.

Among those in the field are Mitch Seavey, last year’s champion, and his son, Dallas Seavey, the 2012 winner.

“The last two winners might create more media interest,” Dallas Seavey said. “But it doesn’t mean that we’re necessarily the two most competitive racers this year.”


Man City wins League Cup final

Starved of success for decades before the influx of Abu Dhabi cash in 2008, Manchester City collected a third trophy inside three years.

Goals from Yaya Toure and Samir Nasri in the space of two minutes during the second half enabled City to come from behind to beat Sunderland 3-1 and lift England’s League Cup at Wembley Stadium in London.

Manchester City is in the English Premier League title hunt and also has reached the FA Cup quarterfinals. City won the 2011 FA Cup and the 2012 Premier League title.

The League Cup is England’s first trophy handed out this season.

“To win the first trophy, I think, is important for us all … because at an important club, you must win trophies,” manager Manuel Pellegrini said.

Italian players support cause

More players in Serie A, Italy’s top league, wore rainbow-colored shoelaces over the weekend in an expanding anti-homophobia demonstration.

Cagliari midfielder Daniele Dessena received online attacks after wearing the laces the previous weekend. As a result, three teammates — South Americans Fernando Avelar, Victor Ibarbo and Mauricio Pinilla — joined him in wearing the multicolored shoe strings for Sunday’s 3-0 victory over Udinese.

On Saturday, Roma’s Radja Nainggolan, an ex-teammate of Dessena’s at Cagliari, wore the rainbow laces during a 0-0 draw with Inter Milan.


Hudson has encouraging start

Right-hander Tim Hudson made his first start since breaking his ankle July 24, pitching two no-hit innings, to help the San Francisco Giants beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 5-3 in an exhibition game in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Hudson, who signed a two-year, $23 million free-agent contract over the winter after spending the previous nine seasons with the Atlanta Braves, threw 27 pitches and struck out a batter.

Mota announces retirement

Right-handed reliever Guillermo Mota has announced he is retiring after 14 seasons in the major leagues.

Mota was a nonroster invitee to the Kansas City Royals’ camp and did not pitch last season.

Mota, 40, made 743 career relief appearances with a 3.94 earned-run average for the Montreal Expos, Los Angeles Dodgers, Florida Marlins, Cleveland Indians, New York Mets, Milwaukee Brewers and San Francisco.

Meanwhile, Mike Moustakas homered twice as the Royals beat the Chicago Cubs 5-3 in Mesa, Ariz.

Peavy suffers unusual injury

Boston right-hander Jake Peavy, who was scheduled to start Monday against Pittsburgh, was scratched after suffering a cut on his left index finger from a new fishing knife Saturday.


Fischbacher, Jansrud triumph

Andrea Fischbacher of Austria won a women’s World Cup downhill in Crans-Montana, Switzerland, claiming her first victory in four years.

Fischbacher skied down the new Mont-Lachaux slope in 1 minute, 34 seconds, beating compatriot Anna Fenninger by 0.15 seconds.

“It’s just a great feeling,” said the 28-year-old Fischbacher, who won the gold medal in the super-giant slalom at the 2010 Olympics. “It has been a hard time these past few years. I had some problems with my back and knee …

“I was always skiing, but my head wasn’t free. I was thinking too much. Today it was just ‘go down and do what you can.’ ”

Meanwhile, Olympic champion Kjetil Jansrud of Norway overcame tricky racing conditions on his favorite home course to win a World Cup Super-G in Kvitfjell, Norway.

Jansrud beat Patrick Kueng of Switzerland by 0.26 seconds.

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