World champion Evgeni Plushenko and former world champion Irina Slutskaya regained Grand Prix Final skating titles yesterday while a Chinese pair won before home fans. Slutskaya took the women's...

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BEIJING — World champion Evgeni Plushenko and former world champion Irina Slutskaya regained Grand Prix Final skating titles yesterday while a Chinese pair won before home fans.


Slutskaya took the women’s title after missing last year because of illness. The Russian previously won three straight years (2000 through 2002) and captured the Olympic silver medal. Current world champion Shizuka Arakawa of Japan was second and Joannie Rochette of Canada was third.


Plushenko scored 251.75 points, far ahead of Canadian Jeff Buttle’s 216.65. The three-time world champion from Russia won with a dynamic program that included a quad and eight triples, after losing the championship last year on a technicality.


Buttle missed last year’s event because of food poisoning. Li Chengjiang of China finished third with a program that included two different quad jumps.


China’s Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo, who train at this rink and live a short distance away, took the pairs title with gravity-defying throw moves and twists.


“It is hard to skate in our hometown because there are so many people expecting us to do well,” Zhao said.


In ice dance, Russia prevailed again. World champions Tatiana Navka and Roman Kostomarov took the title with a dramatic routine full of intricate spins and lifts.


The U.S. team of Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto was second.


Plushenko wasn’t expecting to compete at this event. He skated in one competition, the Cup of Russia, and beat series leader Johnny Weir of the United States before making the field when an injured Weir dropped out.


It was Plushenko’s fourth overall GP title. He lost out last year when he completed one too many combinations, which wasn’t allowed at the time.


Slutskaya was sidelined most of last season with an inflamed lining of her heart. She managed to enter the world championships but was out of shape and finished ninth.


Slutskaya landed five triple jumps but made minor mistakes on two other jumps. Still, it was enough. She finished with 180.88 points while Arakawa had 160.24.


“Yes, Irina Slutskaya is back,” the winner said.


Skier Rauffer wins


VAL GARDENA, Italy — Max Rauffer preferred to skip the debate about whether wind played a part in his first World Cup victory.


By winning a downhill on a wind-shortened course, Rauffer became the first German man to record an alpine victory in nearly 13 years. Switzerland’s Juerg Gruenenfelder was second and Austria’s Johann Grugger was third.


“I skied a very clean, aggressive run. I couldn’t tell if I was helped by the wind,” Rauffer said. “It’s difficult to know if there is a tail wind. I just want to enjoy this moment.”


Bode Miller of Franconia, N.H., the World Cup overall leader, finished tied for 14th. The top U.S. finisher was Bryon Friedman of Park City, Utah, in seventh place.


Daron Rahlves of Sugar Bowl, Calif., shared 14th with Miller.


Scott Macartney of Redmond finished 28th.


“When the wind pulls you, there is no way to get around that,” Miller said. “It was a tough day for me.”


Rauffer, who tore ligaments in his right knee a year ago, covered the course in 1 minute, 50.59 seconds.




Other events


• The women’s World Cup downhill scheduled for yesterday in Val d’Isere, France, was postponed because of a snowstorm.


• France’s Vincent Vittoz and Estonia’s Kristina Smigun won mass-start World Cup cross-country races in Ramsau, Austria.


Janne Ahonen of Finland won a World Cup ski-jumping event in Engelberg, Switzerland, his sixth victory in seven events this season.


• Russia’s Olga Zaitseva won a 10-kilometer World Cup biathlon pursuit in Ostersund, Sweden, beating France’s Sandrine Bailly.


• Canada’s Pierre Lueders and Lascelles Brown took their second two-man World Cup bobsled race of the season. They won in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy.


Chad Hedrick of Spring, Texas, successfully defended his 5,000-meter title at the U.S. Long Track Allround Speedskating Championships, winning in 6 minutes, 38.59 seconds in Milwaukee.


Tacoma’s KC Boutiette placed fourth in the 5,000. Boutiette was sixth in the 500, won by Shani Davis of Chicago.


Maria Lamb of River Falls, Wis., won the women’s 500, and Catherine Raney of Elm Grove, Wis., won the 3,000.