Sports Briefs

Posted: Friday, November 23, 2001

Illinois holds off Pennsylvania

LAS VEGAS -- Frank Williams scored 22 points to lead No. 2 Illinois to a 78-71 victory over Pennsylvania on Thursday night in the second round of the Las Vegas Tourney.

The Illini (3-0) trailed 45-34 at the half and didn't take the lead until midway through the second half.

Nick Smith and Robert Archibald each added 11 points and Brian Cook had 10 for Illinois, which shot 71 percent from the floor in the second half. Damir Krupalija had 11 rebounds as the Illini outrebounded the Quakers 34-26.

Ugonna Onykewe led Penn (1-1) with 28 points, including four 3-pointers. Koko Archibong added 12 points.

France's Pequegnot wins women's slalom

COPPER MOUNTAIN, Colo. -- Three weeks after the death of an inspirational teammate, Laure Pequegnot gave the French skiing squad reason to cheer.

Pequegnot, overcoming a calamity-filled second run on which she nearly lost control several times, won a World Cup slalom Thursday, edging Austria's Christine Sponring by 0.17 seconds.

Pequegnot tumbled into the freshly fallen snow after crossing the finish line and seeing her winning time, then was hugged by teammate Christel Pascal-Saioni and a coach as she rolled on the ground.

The victory came 22 days after team leader Regine Cavagnoud, the reigning world champion and World Cup champion in super-giant slalom, was killed in a training accident when she collided with a German coach.

''We do it for her family and her boyfriend,'' Pequegnot said of her first World Cup win. ''I think Regine would not want us to cry all the time.''

Pequegnot, 26, won in a combined time of 1:37.64. Most of the morning run was held in a blinding snowstorm, but the snow tapered to flurries by the afternoon run.

Pequegnot struggled to maintain control on the second run. She clipped a gate at one point and it shattered, sending a piece skidding down the slope alongside the French skier.

At another point, a collision with a gate knocked her goggles out of place, forcing her to reach up and readjust them while she twisted through gates.

''I thought a lot about Regine Cavagnoud and I knew she was always there. I said, 'You cannot stop. You have to compete like Regine,''' Pequegnot said. ''Me, I really wanted to make like her and never give up.''

Sponring, also seeking her first World Cup victory, was second in 1:37.81. Her teammate, Carina Raich, was third in 1:38.72. Raich is the sister of defending men's World Cup slalom champion Benjamin Raich.

Pascal-Saioni was fourth in 1:38.83.

There were about 6 inches of new snow, the first taste of wintry weather in the Colorado Rockies this fall. Ski areas throughout North America have been plagued by unseasonably warm weather and a lack of snow.

The race was a big disappointment for the Americans, trying to build some momentum in the 10 weeks leading up to the Salt Lake City Olympics.

The top U.S. finisher was Kristina Koznick of Burnsville, Minn., who tied for sixth. She slammed her left ski pole into her hip in frustration after completing the second run.

Sarah Schleper of Vail fell near the bottom of the second run. Caroline Lalive, from Steamboat Springs, hit a gate with her nose near the bottom of the first run and slid out of the race.

Koznick said the conditions did not favor the Americans.

''It's really grippy and it's got a little soft layer on it. The girls who are top three are probably the three lightest-touch skiers on the slalom circuit,'' she said. ''When the snow's really hard, they're not even in the picture. But when it's like this, they're really hard to beat.''

On Wednesday, Norway's Andrine Flemmen won a giant slalom to kick off a holiday weekend of World Cup skiing that also is scheduled to include men's slalom races Sunday and Monday in Aspen.

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