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U.S. skeleton racer breaks vertebra

American skeleton racer Kevin Ellis broke a vertebra in his back Thursday while competing against members of the U.S. luge team in a non-Olympic sledding event being filmed for television.

Ellis was being transported to a hospital in Turin for further evaluation and treatment. There was no immediate word on Ellis' condition, but the first-time Olympian did have movement in his extremities.

"There is no paralysis," said U.S. Olympic Committee spokesman Darryl Seibel.

Ellis, a 32-year-old accountant from Dallas, was 17th in the men's skeleton competition. He was one of five athletes in a friendly sliding competition, joined by skeleton Olympians Eric Bernotas and Katie Uhlaender and luge Olympians Christian Niccum and Erin Hamlin.

The competition was filmed and scheduled to be aired later in the Olympics by an NBC affiliate.

KILDOW FEELING BETTER: American Lindsey Kildow's injured back was feeling better, leaving open the possibility that she would race in today's giant slalom.

"She doesn't feel too bad today," U.S. women's coach Patrick Riml said Thursday.

Kildow, who had indicated she might withdraw because of persistent back pain after a downhill training crash Feb. 13, will make the decision this morning, Riml said.

ANOTHER HUGHES: Sarah Hughes, the Olympic women's figure skating champion in 2002, said she might compete at the next Winter Games in 2010 at Vancouver.

Hughes retired a year after beating Russia's Irina Slutskaya in the 2002 Salt Lake City Games and is studying at Yale University. She said she's stayed involved in the sport by taking part in a 62-city tour 1 1/2 years ago and taping a skating special for television in October.

"Next Olympics, I'll only be 24," Hughes said. "I have options."

Hughes cheered on sister Emily, who finished seventh after Thursday night's long program.

DAVIS WITHDRAWS: American Shani Davis pulled out of speed-skating's 10,000 meters, eliminating a final race and possible clash with teammate and rival Chad Hedrick.

Davis, who won the 1,000 meters to become the first black athlete to take a gold medal in an individual event in Winter Games history, decided to sit out today's race and give his spot to teammate Charles Ryan Leveille.

The U.S. Olympic Committee, which announced the move in a statement, said Davis isn't injured. Speed-skating spokeswoman Melissa Scott said Davis "just wanted to withdraw."

FALSE ALARM: The Games got their first security scare when a suspicious, abandoned car in an apartment parking lot was opened by Italian Carabinieri with a controlled explosion. It turned out to be a false alarm.

Capt. Cesario Totaro of the military police said nothing was found in the Honda Civic after the explosion. The car was left running and locked in a loading zone across the street from the Main Media Center. Police officers, with dogs, responded.

"In the end, we did not find anything inside that was suspicious," Totaro said.

A witness who called police said two men left the car within 15 feet of one apartment in the Fabeo Filzi square. Totaro said one possibility is that the Honda Civic was stolen and left in the parking lot.

Totaro said the next step would be to find the owner of the car, whose driver's side door was badly damaged and the window blown out.

"We asked Spanish police to look for him," Totaro said.

OUT OF GAS: Germany's Anni Friesinger, who has won four speed-skating medals, pulled out Saturday's 5,000-meter race because she's tired.

"It does not make sense to start as I am not well," Friesinger said.

- TIMES WIRES

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