■ SOUTH POLE RACE
Historic teams set off
Six ski teams set off on an international race to the South Pole on Sunday, nearly a century after Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen beat Britain’s Robert Scott to reach it, organizers said. The teams, which include an Olympic rower and a blind Irishman, will travel 430 nautical miles (796km) across the Antarctic ice cap. Their race is billed as the first to the South Pole since the Amundsen-Scott rivalry that ended with the Norwegian’s triumph in December 1911 a month before Scott reached it. Scott and his men perished in March 1912 trying to return. The fastest of the two and three-person teams is expected to reach the Pole in about 30 days, the organizers said.
US beat Czech Republic
James van Riemsdyk scored at 2:49 of overtime to give the US a 3-2 victory over the Czech Republic on Sunday in the fifth-place game at the world junior hockey championship in Ottawa. Also on Sunday in relegation play, Juha Metsola made 25 saves to help Finland beat Germany 3-1, and Roberts Jekimovs and Artjoms Ogorodnikovs each scored twice in Latvia’s 7-1 victory over Kazakhstan. Germany and Kazakhstan dropped to Division 1.
Atlanta’s Smith honored
Mike Smith and Tony Sparano performed so brilliantly as rookie head coaches it was almost impossible to separate them. Atlanta’s Smith edged Miami’s Sparano by one vote on Sunday for The Associated Press 2008 NFL Coach of the Year award. Both coaches oversaw sensational turnarounds, leading their teams from last-place finishes in 2007 to playoff berths this year. Their achievements were reflected by the closeness of the balloting, with Smith getting 23.5 votes and Sparano 22.5 from a nationwide panel of 50 sports writers and broadcasters who cover the NFL.
Cologna, Kuitunen win
Dario Cologna of Switzerland claimed the men’s Tour de Ski title in Val Di Fiemme, Italy, on Sunday by winning the 11km pursuit, and Virpi Kuitunen of Finland won the women’s competition after taking first place in the 9K pursuit. Cologna, who dominated the seven-event Tour de Ski series, won his race in 35 minutes, 12 seconds. Petter Northug of Norway, who outsprinted Axel Teichmann in the final 100m, was second in 36:11 Kuitunen won the women’s race in 37:26.9, a day after winning the 10K classic race. Aino Kaisa Saarinen was second, 7.2 seconds behind Kuitunen, and took second in the Tour de Ski standings. Petra Majdic of Slovenia was third in both Sunday’s race and the overall standings.
Player presumed drowned
Auckland Warriors rugby league player Sonny Fai is missing and presumed drowned after rescuing his brother from the ocean surf, team officials said yesterday. Fai, 20, played 15 games for the Warriors in Australia’s National Rugby League competition last year. He was named the Warriors’ under-20 player of the year in 2007. Members of the Warriors took part in a search yesterday for Fai, who had gone to cool off in the surf at Bethell’s Beach west of Auckland after a training run on Sunday with his younger brother and cousins. His brother was caught in a strong current at the treacherous beach. Fai had swum to him, helping him to shore, before being swept away by the surf. He has not been seen since.