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SPORTS TODAY

Kwan rolls the dice, will coach herself

Less than four months before the Salt Lake City Olympics, Michelle Kwan is taking the biggest gamble of her career.

Kwan, the reigning world champion and a favorite to win gold in Salt Lake, announced Tuesday that she's split with longtime coach Frank Carroll. She plans to coach herself for now, though she didn't rule out working with someone else.

"I think the person that knows best is me," Kwan said. "That's why I've made this decision."

But the split is a huge risk, coming so close to the Olympics, and it could end up costing her the gold medal.

"I love Frank and I have nothing against him. He's a great coach," Kwan said, "but I feel like I need to take care of my skating now."

The move surprised Carroll.

"The only real explanation I've gotten is that she really has a strong, strong feeling that she needs to do this by herself," Carroll said. "That she has to be strong enough to get out there and lay it on the line without depending on me or depending on her father. That if she is to succeed, she has to be strong enough to do it by herself."

Kournikova's problems on the court finally end

Anna Kournikova ended a five-match losing streak Tuesday, beating Jana Kandarr of Germany, 6-2, 7-5, in the first round of the $170,000 SEAT Open in Luxembourg.

This was the Russian's first victory since coming back last month from a stress fracture of her left foot. The injury has sidelined her most of the season and her ranking has dropped to No. 22.

Kournikova, seeded fifth, next plays Daniela Hantuchova, who defeated German qualifier Andrea Glass, 6-4, 6-4.

Elsewhere in tennis, the site of an ATP tournament was closed for more than hour after guards discovered a letter feared to contain anthrax. The substance turned out to be cocaine, authorities said.

U.S. women rout Canada in ice hockey

Less than four months before the Olympics, the balance of power in women's hockey is leaning to the south.

Tricia Dunn scored two goals as the United States beat Canada, 4-1, sweeping a two-game series between the sport's best teams.

The United States, which also beat Canada, 4-1, in Utah on Saturday, was clearly the superior team in an easy victory before a sparse but enthusiastic crowd at San Jose's Compaq Center.

Future of Winter Games questioned by official

For the first time, a senior Olympic official questioned whether the Winter Games should go ahead in Salt Lake City while the United States is at war in Afghanistan.

But the International Olympic Committee reiterated that the games would go on as planned in February, saying that only "World War III" could lead to a change.

Gerhard Heiberg, a respected IOC member from Norway, became the first IOC official to suggest publicly that the games might not take place in the crisis stemming from the Sept. 11 terror attacks in the United States.

"A country at war can't organize the Olympic Games," Heiberg said.

Heiberg organized the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer.

NFL bests baseball in ratings again

Baseball's league championship series television ratings were higher than last year, but still trailed the second-lowest "Monday Night Football" rating ever.

The New York Yankees' pennant-clinching victory over the Seattle Mariners produced a 7.6 rating and 12 share for Fox Sports, up 21 percent from last year's 6.3 rating and 10 share for Game Five between the St. Louis Cardinals and New York Mets.

The Monday night NFL game between Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants did a 9.9 and 16 share. The only Monday night rating lower than that came on Oct. 27, 1986, when the Washington Redskins and Giants got an 8.8 and 14 share. That game was played opposite the seventh game of the World Series between the Mets and Boston Red Sox.

All of baseball's big events have had higher ratings in the first year of Fox's $2.5 billion, six-year TV deal than they did in 2000. The division series ratings were 6 percent higher than the previous year, and the All-Star game rating was 8 percent higher.

Cheektowaga's Johnson seeded second for finals

Liz Johnson of Cheektowaga is in second place heading into the finals of the PWBA Hammer Players tournament in Rockford, Ill.

Johnson had a 16-7-1 record and a total pinfall of 11,028 -- 85 pins behind Michelle Feldman of Skaneateles. Janette Piesczynski of Cheektowaga finished 22nd and earned $1,540.

Hart takes time off to help pregnant wife

Dudley Hart was planning to play a busy fall PGA Tour schedule with his sights on qualifying for the Tour Championship and next year's Masters.

Instead, he has spent the past month cooking, shopping and running household errands and barely touching a golf club.

Hart's wife, Suzanne, is expecting triplets with a February due date, but there were complications late last month, and she was hospitalized. She's fine now, but doctors ordered her to spend the rest of her pregnancy in bed.

The Harts know the babies are coming early; doctors moved the due date up to Jan. 10.

"What we have going on inside Suzanne is more important than golf," the 33-year-old Hart said. "She's always doing things for me, and it's nice to be at home helping her now."

Race tracks make time adjustments

With Saturday's Breeders' Cup and the arrival of Eastern Standard Time Sunday, post times will be changed for many thoroughbred racetracks this weekend.

Fort Erie Race Track's first race will start at 11:20 a.m. Saturday with simulcasts of the Breeders' Cup races from Belmont Park scheduled to start at 1:20 p.m. Starting Sunday, the Fort's first race will be at 12:10 p.m. for the rest of the season, which runs Saturdays through Tuesdays through Nov. 13.

Beginning Sunday, Finger Lakes Race Track's first post will be at 12:15 p.m.

At Belmont Park, Saturday's first race will be at 12:05 p.m. with the first Breeders' Cup event at 1:20. Belmont will start at 1 p.m. Sunday, closing day of the meet.

Godolphin Racing Inc., the joint enterprise of the three Maktoum brothers of the ruling family of the United Arab Emirate of Dubai, has pledged its potential $5.25 million purse earnings from Saturday's Breeders' Cup to a fund to assist the families victims of the attacks on the World Trade Center.

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