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Figure skaters earn a rare mark: perfection

Defending champions Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto earned a 6.0 for presentation, the first perfect mark awarded in compulsory dance at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships on Tuesday. Perfect marks are a rarity, and practically unheard of in compulsories. Belbin and Agosto's perfect mark was only the 17th for dance at nationals.

The rest of Belbin and Agosto's marks weren't bad, either. They ranged from 5.6 to 5.8 for technique and 5.8 to the 6.0 for presentation, easily giving them the lead. Last year's silver medalists, Melissa Gregory and Denis Petukhov, are in second place, and Tiffany Stiegler and Sergei Magerovskiy are third.

SKIING: Bode Miller finished second in a World Cup giant slalom in Adelboden, Switzerland to maintain his lead in the overall standings. Miller is trying to become the first American to win the overall title since Phil Mahre in 1983.

TENNIS

Capriati out for Aussie

Jennifer Capriati will miss the Australian Open due to a shoulder injury, withdrawing from the grand slam event she won in 2001 and '02. Tournament organizers said Capriati had advised the WTA that she'd failed to recover from a shoulder injury she sustained at the Advanta Championships in November.

HEINEKEN OPEN: Defending champion Dominik Hrbatyreached the second round in Auckland, Australia when Rafael Nadal withdrew from the first round match with chest pains. Nadal, 18, complained of pains during the first set. Hrbaty won it 6-3 and Nadal sought medical advice before choosing to retire.

FED CUP: The U.S. team's quarterfinal against Belgium on April 23-24 will be in Delray Beach, the USTA announced.

AUTO RACING

Driver dies in Dakar

Italian motorcyclist Fabrizio Meoni was killed in a crash during the Dakar Rally, organizers said. It was the second fatality in two days. Meoni, 47, who won the motorcycle title in 2001 and 2002, was in second place overall behind France's Cyril Despres. He crashed about 6 miles into the 11th stage, a 431-mile stretch between Atar and Kiffa in Mauritania.

FORMULA ONE: The British Racing Drivers Club, organizer of the country's Grand Prix, ousted chairman Ray Bellm over a dispute with club president Jackie Stewart about the terms of a contract to host the world's oldest Formula One race, car racing officials said.

COLLEGES

C-USA deals with ESPN

Conference USA has entered into a six-year with ESPN and College Sports TV to extend the conference's football package to include the C-USA championship game starting in 2005. USF soccer standout Kareem Smithwas selected to be a part of the Trinidad and Tobago Under 20 National Team as it competes in the final round of CONCACACF qualifying matches today through Friday to qualify for the 2005 World Youth Championship. LSU athletic director Skip Bertman will ask the board of supervisors to approve construction of a new baseball stadium to open in 2008.

ET CETERA

GOLF: U.S. Ryder Cup captain Tom Lehman picked Corey Pavinand Loren Roberts as assistants for the 2006 team.

OLYMPICS: The IOC called off a proposed TV debate with officials from the five candidates to host the 2012 Summer Games, saying the show would violate bidding rules. Making his first trip to Africa since his election as IOC president in 2001, Jacques Rogge urged African nations to bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics.

HORSE RACING: As it continued to lose millions of dollars a year, the New York Racing Association spent more than $1-million on employees and vendors for "inappropriate, unsupported and excessive" expenses, state Comptroller Alan Hevesi said.

Compiled from Times wires.

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