A Norwegian firefighter won the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race Thursday, enduring extreme wind and cold toward the finish of the 1,100-mile trek.
Robert Sorlie waved to hundreds of cheering spectators as he led his eight-dog team across the line at 1:47 a.m., finishing ahead of Ramy Brooks and three-time champion Jeff King. "I'm feeling very well," he said before he hugged his wife in the winner's circle.
The 45-year-old musher finished in 9 days, 15 hours, 47 minutes. He won $68,571 and a new truck. Last year he finished ninth, a record for a first-time competitor, but said he promised his wife he won't race next year.
Sixty-four mushers entered this year's Iditarod, with 49 still running behind Sorlie.
Qualifier keeps winning
Brian Vahaly, who barely made it into the Pacific Life Open as a qualifier, continued his improbable run by beating Tommy Robredo 6-2, 7-5 to advance to the quarterfinals at Indian Wells, Calif. Vahaly, 23, a former University of Virginia star, climbed from No. 403 in the world in 2001 to No. 97 last year. Another American qualifier, Robby Ginepri, advanced with a 6-0, 6-1 victory over seventh-seeded Marat Safin, who was weakened by flulike symptoms. Tampa's James Blake beat Carlos Moya 5-7, 6-3, 6-2 for the first time in four career meetings. Top-ranked and defending champion Lleyton Hewitt won. In the women's draw, top-seeded Kim Clijsters took just 51 minutes to beat Chanda Rubin 6-2, 6-3 and advance to the semifinals.
FOOTBALL: The NCAA plans to reprimand and monitor Western Kentucky and Western Illinois because of a brawl at the end of last season's Division I-AA playoff game. It will not reimburse the schools for per diem and travel expenses.
Panel okays McCain bill
The Senate Commerce Committee approved legislation that would create a federal agency to oversee pro boxing. Committee chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., sponsor of the legislation, said it would "protect boxers and restore integrity to the sport." He has criticized promoters for taking advantage of young boxers and chastised state commissions for conflicts of interests and for not ensuring the objectivity of judges. He still must get the bill through the full Senate and find a House sponsor.
Eberharter reigns again
Austria's Stephan Eberharter won the super-giant slalom and World Cup overall titles for the second straight year, taking the last Super G of the season on Norway's Olympic course at Lillehammer. France's Carole Montillet won the women's Super G title despite finishing 10th. Eberharter, who earlier secured the downhill championship, has an unbeatable 273-point lead over American Bode Miller in the overall standings with one race left.
CYCLING: Italy's Dario Frigo won the fourth stage of the Paris-Nice race _ a 10-mile time trial from Perrier to Vergeze _ and seized the overall lead. The Court for Arbitration on Sport reduced Marco Pantani's drug ban from eight months to six with a $2,239 fine, allowing him to begin racing. He had been judged guilty of possessing a syringe containing traces of insulin in 2001.
HORSES: Best Mate became the first horse in 32 years to win England's Cheltenham Gold Cup in successive seasons, finishing more than 10 lengths ahead of the pack. Wayne Wright, a jockey in the 1930s and '40s who won all three Triple Crown races, died at 86 in Yerington, Nev. He won the 1934 Belmont Stakes on Peace Chance, the 1942 Kentucky Derby on Shut Out and the 1945 Preakness on Polynesian.
_ Compiled from Times wires.