Olympic notebook: Downhill draw goes awry due to mix-up


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The blind draw for the men's downhill race hit a snag Saturday.

Using numbered miniature Russian dolls drawn from a pot, officials placed American skier Marco Sullivan at No. 11 for today's race. Fine enough, but Peter Fill of Italy was already put into that position.

From back in the crowded room at the team captains' meeting, U.S. men's coach Sasha Rearick immediately called for a redraw, which was granted.

Many of the top racers, who already were scheduled to receive the prime slots between No. 8 and 22, stayed virtually the same. American favorite Bode Miller went from No. 12 to 15, while Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway moved from 21 to 18. Steven Nyman of the U.S. drew the No. 1 spot after Jan Hudec of Canada initially had it.

Men's race director Guenter Hujara tried to downplay the bungled bib draw, saying "that stuff happens."

"If you want to create a scandal, I must laugh about it," he said. "Nobody is perfect. This was a human error. It's all corrected. It's all within the rules."

Some coaches said they couldn't recall something like this happening, especially on this big of a stage. The redraw definitely affected the position of Canada's Manny Osborne-Paradis, who fell from No. 4 all the way to 28th.

Martin Rufener, the Alpine director for Canada, said he tried to voice his objection about starting over, but didn't respond in time. He wanted the situation to be fixed at the spot where the mix-up occurred, not start again from scratch.

Estonian champ under fire

Retired cross-country ski champion Kristina Smigun-Vahi is suspected of doping at the 2006 Winter Games in Turin, the Estonian Olympic Committee said. Secretary general Siim Sukles said his organization received an IOC letter in December raising the suspicions. He declined to provide details. In a statement Friday, Smigun-Vahi confirmed her sample had come under new suspicion but denied ever using banned substances.

Call him, maybe

Here's hoping Russian snowboarder Alexey Sobolev has unlimited texting on his phone. Sobolev competed in slopestyle qualifying Thursday with his cell phone number written on his helmet. It was his idea of trying to get through what he called the boredom of the athletes' village on the mountain. Sobolev said he has received more than 2,000 texts since then. After practice Friday, he said most of the messages he received were wishing him well in the Olympics, but some were from females and "not appropriate to read aloud."

Finland adds to hockey roster

Kontinental Hockey League teammates Jarkko Immonen and Sakari Salminen of the Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod were chosen to replace Tampa Bay Lightning forward Valtteri Filppula and Minnesota Wild forward Mikko Koivu.


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