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American teen Shiffrintakes slalom opener

Mikaela Shiffrin sent a clear message leading to the 2014 Sochi Olympics in Russia.

The 18-year-old from Eagle-Vail, Colo., easily won the World Cup slalom opener Saturday, beating reigning Olympic champion Maria Hoefl-Riesch of Germany by 1.06 seconds in Levi, Finland.

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Shiffrin, the slalom world champion, had a two-run time of 1 minute, 55.07 seconds.

Shiffrin emerged as a major star in the discipline last season by winning the World Cup slalom title and the world-championship race, making her one of the major medal favorites for Sochi.

For the first time, event organizers presented the winner with a reindeer from the local Lapland region. Shiffrin named the 6-month-old reindeer Rudolph.

“I scared him off a bit when I jumped off the podium to meet him, but I think we will be getting along,” Shiffrin said of the reindeer, who will remain in Finland.

Figure skating

Chan, Wagner triumph

Patrick Chan of Canada set world records on the way to his fourth victory at the Trophee Bompard in Paris.

The three-time world champion’s record scores in the short program (98.52) Friday and free skate (196.75) Saturday produced a combined world record of 295.27. His previous best combined score (280.98) came at the 2011 world championships.

“A score like that — if I put that up at the Olympics, I think it will be very, very hard to beat,” he said.

“This is a Grand Prix event I’ve been to many times. The Olympics is only the second time and I’m competing against the best skaters in the world.”

U.S. skater Ashley Wagner successfully defended her title despite finishing second in the free skate.

“Tonight was a pretty decent night for me,” said Wagner, who had 194.37 points. “I think there’s still room for improvement.”


Czechs lead Davis Cup

The Czech Republic is one victory from winning a second straight Davis Cup.

The defending champs defeated host Serbia in doubles for a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five Davis Cup final when Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek beat Nenad Zimonjic and Ilija Bozoljac 6-2, 6-4, 7-6 (7-4).

Berdych plays Novak Djokovic, who is on a 23-match winning run, in the first reverse singles Sunday in Belgrade.

The final could be decided when Stepanek likely meets Davis Cup rookie Dusan Lajovic.

Mixed martial arts

St-Pierre triumphs

Georges St-Pierre defeated Johny Hendricks by split decision to keep the welterweight title in the main event at UFC 167 in Las Vegas.

“I lost memory a little bit in the fifth (round),” St-Pierre said.

Earlier, in a light-heavyweight bout, Rashad Evans stopped Chael Sonnen in the first round.


• Jamaican sprinters Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce were chosen IAAF world track-and-field athletes of the year.

Bolt won the award for the fifth time and Fraser-Pryce earned her first.

• Nigeria and Ivory Coast are the first African soccer teams to qualify for next year’s World Cup in Brazil. Both won two-game, total-goals playoffs.

Nigeria beat Ethiopia 2-0 in the second leg for a 4-1 aggregate victory. Ivory Coast played to a 1-1 draw with Senegal that yielded a 4-2 aggregate victory.

Five teams will represent Africa in Brazil; three playoffs in Africa haven’t been completed.

• Speedskater Lee Sang-hwa of South Korea set a world record in the women’s 500 meters for the third time in eight days, winning in 36.36 seconds in a World Cup event in Kearns, Utah.

Defending Olympic champion Lee had a time of 36.57 Friday, which surpassed the record of 36.74 she set last weekend in Calgary, Alberta.

Shani Davis of Chicago won the men’s 1,000 meters in 1:06.02, a day after his victory in the 1,500.

• Hall of Fame bowler Billy Hardwick, the PBA player of the year in 1963 and 1969, died of an apparent heart attack in Sarasota, Fla. He was 72.

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