New Chinese coach named
China named Croatia’s Miroslav Blazevic the new head coach of its Olympic team yesterday, state media reported. The Chinese Football Association (CFA) is bringing Blazevic in after the team’s poor performance at the Asian Games in Guangzhou last month, the official Xinhua news agency said. He replaces Chinese coach Sun Wei. Blazevic signed a two-year contract with the CFA, which expires in December 2012, Xinhua said. Li Bing was named assistant coach. Blazevic, 75, who coached Croatia to third place in the 1998 World Cup, led the Chinese Super League team Shanghai Shenhua to third place this year. He resigned as Bosnia’s national coach last year after the team failed to qualify for this year’s World Cup.
LA Angels sign Downs
The Los Angeles Angels have bolstered their bullpen by signing left-handed reliever Scott Downs to a three-year contract, the club said on Friday. Terms of the contract were not disclosed. Free agent Downs, 34, who pitched the last five seasons for the Toronto Blue Jays, has been one of the league’s most durable middle relievers. In 67 appearances for Toronto this past season, Downs was 5-5 with a 2.64 ERA. Since 2007, he has compiled an ERA of 2.36, which was the lowest among left-handed relievers over the span and fifth lowest overall in the American League.
Huefner notches up win
Olympic champion Tatjana Huefner gave Germany its 101st straight women’s World Cup victory on Friday, leading a one-two sweep for her third win in three races this season. Huefner had a two-run time of one minute, 33.658 seconds at Canada Olympic Park in Calgary. “It was a very difficult race. My two runs were not so good, but I was happy to still lead,” Huefner said. “Conditions were very difficult because it was so cold tonight. No grip.” She opened the season with victories in Igls, Austria, and Winterberg, Germany. Germany’s Anke Wischnewski was second in 1:33.801 and the US’ Erin Hamlin was third in 1:33.955.
Russia duo win World Cup
Russia’s Alexsandr Zubkov and Dmitry Trunenkov overcame poor visibility to win the men’s two-man bobsled World Cup event in Park City, Utah, on Friday night. The Russian team finished in one minute, 37.33 seconds — 0.14 ahead of the Italian team of Simone Bertazzo and Sergio Riva. Germans Andreas Bredau and Manuel Machata took third (1:37.87) after Germany 2 was disqualified for having a brakeman who wasn’t registered in the event. Snow began falling during the second run of the men’s race. “My vision was not very clear, especially on the second run,” said Zubkov, who came out of retirement after crashing in the four-man race in the Vancouver Olympics.
Karl wins giant slalom event
Olympic silver medalist Benjamin Karl of Austria won a snowboard parallel giant slalom World Cup event on Friday. Karl led an all-Austrian podium, beating teammate Andreas Prommegger in the big final, while Manuel Veith edged Swiss boarder Nevin Galmarini in the small final. There was an all-Russian podium in the women’s event, with Ekaterina Tudegesheva beating Alena Zavarzina for first and Svetlana Boldykova finishing ahead of Austria’s Claudia Riegler for third.
Patriots’ Spikes suspended
New England Patriots rookie linebacker Brandon Spikes has been suspended for four games without pay for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances, the league said on Friday. The suspension for the unnamed substance was effective immediately, starting with today’s game against the Chicago Bears, the NFL said in a statement. Spikes will be eligible to return to the Patriots on Monday, Jan. 3, following the team’s final regular season game against the Miami Dolphins. He would be eligible to participate in all playoff games, should the Patriots qualify for the postseason. “The substance was a medication that I should have gotten clarification on before taking. It was not a performance enhancer or an illegal drug,” Spikes said.