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Around & about / News and notes

>Vonn top female athlete

Lindsey Vonn remembers being a 9-year-old wannabe Olympian, waiting in line for hours on end to shake the hand of a medal-winning skier and get an autograph.

These days, Vonn is the one speeding to victories and hoping to inspire the next generation to hit the slopes.

Gold and bronze medals at the Vancouver Games, plus a third consecutive World Cup overall title, helped Vonn become the 2010 Female Athlete of the Year, chosen by members of The Associated Press. She is the first skier -- male or female -- to win one of the annual AP awards, which began in 1931.

Vonn received 77 of 175 votes submitted by news organizations that make up the AP's membership, more than double what anyone else got in the tally announced Saturday.

"For sure, 2010 was the best year I've ever had," the 26-year-old Vonn said in a telephone interview from France, where she won a World Cup downhill race Saturday. "It couldn't have gone any better for me. Even if I just won the Olympic gold medal, that would have made it the best year of my career and the best day of my life, period."

Zenyatta's 32 votes placed the racehorse No. 2 in the AP balloting for the second consecutive year. The 6-year-old mare retired with a 19-1 career record and a North American earnings record for female horses. Her only loss was a narrow one in the Breeders' Cup Classic.

On the slopes Saturday, Vonn won her first downhill race of the season to close the gap on overall World Cup leader Maria Riesch, who finished 24th.

The three-time defending World Cup and reigning Olympic downhill champion had finished second behind her German rival in both downhills at Lake Louise two weeks ago. But Vonn turned the tables at Val d'Isere, one of her favorite stops.


>Hopkins draws, no title

Bernard Hopkins missed a chance to become the oldest boxer to hold a major world title, fighting to a technical draw with Canadian Jean Pascal in Quebec City.

The 45-year-old Hopkins rallied after being knocked down in the first and third rounds.

American judge Steve Morrow scored it 114-112 for Hopkins, but Canadian Claude Paquette (113-113) and Belgium's Daniel Van de Wiele (114-114) had it even, which made it a technical draw and allowed Pascal to keep his WBC and IBO light heavyweight titles.


>Red Sox add Wheeler

The Boston Red Sox have signed right-hander Dan Wheeler to a $3 million, one-year contract with a club option for 2012.

The 33-year-old went 2-4 with a 3.35 ERA and three saves in 64 relief outings for Tampa Bay last season.


>Penn State takes title

Penn State won its fourth straight NCAA women's volleyball title, sweeping upstart California in three sets (25-20, 27-25, 25-20) in Kansas City behind the power of Blair Brown and Deja McClendon and a gutsy performance in the key second set.

Brown had 18 kills and 10 digs and McClendon added 16 kills for the Nittany Lions (32-5), who won 19 of their last 20 matches and extended their record number of consecutive titles.

From News and wire service reports.