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Physical play concerns IOC

The International Olympic Committee expressed concern Wednesday about the rough play and fighting _ much of it involving the U.S. team _ in the Olympic hockey tournament.

"It's true that something is changing," IOC spokeswoman Michele Verdier said. "Hockey didn't use to be this violent in the Olympics. Maybe we are opening a new era.

"It's not pleasant. It's not what the IOC would like to see."

Tuesday night's 4-1 victory over France ended with players from both benches spilling onto the ice, swinging sticks and fists.

In other hockey news, Canada's shootout victory over Germany will stand despite a protest by the losers that the order of the shots violated the rules, officials said Wednesday. The referee made a mistake, acknowledged Gordon Renwick, vice president of the International Ice Hockey Federation, but "historically, I've never known a change on a technical mistake."

Can you go any faster?

VAL D'ISERE, France _ Lebanese skier Raymond Kayrouz recorded an Olympic first of sorts Tuesday when he passed Morocco's El Hassan Mahta in the men's giant slalom. Racers in the first slalom leg started at 40-second intervals. Mahta's first-leg time of 2 minutes, 13.99 seconds was seven seconds slower than Alberto Tomba's winning time.

Crash and burn

LA PLAGNE, France _ A spectacular crash by the Mexican bobsled team Wednesday left two of its sledders with injuries that will keep them out of the Olympic Games.

Javier Pedroche, No. 2 on the four-man sled, was treated for a chipped shoulder bone and a damaged shoulder ligament at Moutiers hospital and then released. The sledder said he and driver Eduardo Tames, who also injured a shoulder, are both out of the competition.

Miscellany

Norway's men and Canada's men and women won their curling matches again to preserve their unbeaten records in the elimination round of the demonstration event in Pralognan, France. Matches between teams with the poorest records begin play Thursday to settle fifth through eighth place. The semifinals start Friday. It was good news for Canadian Sylvie Daigle and bad news for Italian Marinella Canclini. Organizers said Wednesday that Canclini did not set a world record in Tuesday's 500-meter short-track speed-skating heats, as originally announced. Daigle skated a faster time in November.

Last word

"I can ski all right _ if I don't have to carry France on my back." Carole Merle, France's top woman skier and main gold-medal hope who came up empty in the giant slalom Wednesday.

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