Van collects first gold for United States
Lindsey Van of the United States made a perfect second jump and became the first women's ski jumping world champion Friday in Liberec, Czech Republic. Hers is the first gold medal in history for a U.S. ski jumper and only the second U.S. medal; the other came in the 1924 Olympics, bronze won by Anders Haugen.
Women's ski jumping is making its debut at this year's Nordic skiing world championships, and the sport hopes to be part of the 2014 Olympics. It failed to win approval for next year's Vancouver Games despite lobbying from Van and other jumpers. A group has filed suit to get that decision changed.
Van, of Park City, Utah, was fourth after the first round but soared 97.5 meters to finish with 243 points and edge Ulrike Graessler of Germany. Anette Sagen of Norway was third.
"I feel like I'm a pioneer in the sport now," Van said.
• Todd Lodwick won the United States' second gold medal in Liberec, taking the Nordic combined event.
Vonn protects lead in overall
Lindsey Vonn refused to risk an overall World Cup title, skiing conservatively on the slalom leg of Friday's super-combi and leaving the championship for Maria Riesch.
Vonn, a Burnsville native, had a chance at setting a U.S. women's record for World Cup victories, but a mistake in pursuing that mark would cost her in the overall race, which she leads with 1,194 points, ahead of Riesch's 1,035. So, even after building a lead in the downhill portion of the event, she skied carefully.
"I'm just trying to ski solid right now. The main thing for me is the overall," Vonn said.
Riesch won in a combined time of 2 minutes, 18.57 seconds. Vonn finished second, 0.49 behind.
Sprint Cup pole
Brian Vickers won the sixth pole of his career, running a lap at 183.429 mph in qualifying for the Sprint Cup Auto Club 500 in Fontana, Calif. That relegated three-time reigning Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson to the outside of the front row for the 500-mile race. Johnson had a lap at 183.164 mph, a very scant difference.
"The only thing I can think is Vickers and I went to In-N-Out Burger last night and I had a double and he had a single," Johnson said. "I guess that extra patty killed me."
• Larry Dixon led Top Fuel qualifying in the Lucas Oil Slick Mist NHRA Nationals with a 3.807-second run at 313.95 mph at Chandler, Ariz. Ron Capps led Funny Car qualifying, and Mike Edwards led Pro Stocks.
Woods wonders, too, how he'll do
Not even Tiger Woods knows what to expect when he returns to golf next week after eight months recovering from knee surgery.
"I'm as curious as you," Woods said during a conference call to discuss his planned return at the Accenture Match Play Championship near Tucson, Ariz. "One of the great things coming back is my bones aren't moving anymore. It's a very comforting feeling hitting a golf ball without your bones sliding all over the place."
• Scott McCarron birdied No. 18 as darkness fell, finishing a 3-under 68 that gave him a two-shot lead over Steve Stricker and Tommy Armour III in the Northern Trust Open at Riviera in Los Angeles. "I usually do my best work at night," McCarron said. Phil Mickelson slipped to 72 after his first-round 63 and was three shots back.
• Vicente Fernandez and Don Pooley shot 4-under 68s and shared the first-round lead in the ACE Group Classic, a Champions event in Naples Fla.
Big sis beats limping sibling
Venus Williams beat younger sister Serena 6-1, 2-6, 7-6 (3) and reached the final of the Dubai Tennis Championship.
Venus, seeded sixth, dominated the first set as Serena, ranked No. 1 in the world but troubled by a knee injury suffered last weekend, struggled with her serves. Venus will play Virginie Razzano of France in the final today.
Venus leads the career series between the American sisters 10-9.
"She is the one player I respect most on the tour, so it feels very satisfying," Venus said.
• Former Fed Cup captain Zina Garrison is suing the U.S. Tennis Association, saying she was discriminated against because she is black. In the lawsuit, Garrison says she was treated unfairly when she was paid a lower salary than Davis Cup coach Patrick McEnroe and her replacement, Mary Joe Fernandez.
• Andy Roddick won't defend his title in Dubai next week because he doesn't agree with the decision to deny an Israeli woman a visa to play in a tournament. "I don't think you make political statements through sports," Roddick said after he beat Sam Querrey 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 in the quarterfinals of the Regions Morgan Keegan Championship in Memphis. Also, the Women's Tennis Association announced it had fined the Dubai organizers $300,000 for rejecting the Israeli woman.
AROUND THE HORN
NFL: Tackle Vernon Carey signed a contract extension with the Miami Dolphins and won't become an unrestricted free agent next week. Carey has started 59 games in a row.
Cycling: Levi Leipheimer won the individual time trial in Solvang, Calif., and added to his overall lead in the Tour of California. Teammate Lance Armstrong finished 14th.
Economy: Citing what its president called "inescapable financial realities," the University of Vermont pulled the plug on its men's baseball and women's softball teams. The cuts mean the end for a Catamounts baseball program that has fielded a team continuously since 1888, except for six years in the early 1970s. The softball program began in 1974.