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Saturday, October 31, 1998 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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A.M. Briefing

Russian Skater Tumbles But Takes Lead

Seattle Times News Services

Russia's Maria Butyrskaya fell onto the ice but not out of favor with Skate America judges last night in Detroit.

Despite tumbling while attempting a triple lutz during the women's short program, the bronze medalist at the world championships still scored straight 5.7s for presentation in taking over the lead in the international event.

"I followed very strong and good in practice here and also during the warmup," Butyrskaya said after the short program, which accounts for one-third of the total score. "I was very secure, and maybe too much. Maybe this prevented me from focusing."

Angela Nikodinov of the United States was second after skating a clean program that included a triple lutz-double toe combination during a routine to the music of Vaughn Williams' "A Lark Ascending."

"I just had a little problem with my footwork," Nikodinov said. "It kind of slowed me down and threw me off my timing. So it didn't get the lift it usually does."

Russia's Elena Sokolova, also among the few women to complete a combination jump last night, was third. Nicole Bobek, the 1995 U.S. champion, fell on her triple flip and was fourth.

France's Marina Anissina and Gwendal Peizert, runners-up in this year's world championships and Olympic bronze medalists at Nagano, retained first place in ice dancing after their original dance last night.

Americans Naomi Lang and Peter Tchernyshev, fifth after Thursday night's compulsories, dropped to sixth after Tchernyshev fell during their routine last night.

Tchernyshev called the tumble "just a fluke, probably a miscalculation of distance between us."

This event concludes today with free skates in the men's, women's and pairs competitions, as well as the free dance.

As the first event in the International Skating Union's Grand Prix series, Skate America features Olympic-eligible skaters. The series culminates with a final in Russia in March, two weeks before the world championships in Finland.

Tennis

Pete Sampras assured his No. 1 ranking for at least another week by beating Bohdan Ulihrach 6-3, 6-3 to reach the quarterfinals of the Eurocard Open in Stuttgart, Germany.

Richard Krajicek stopped Andre Agassi's recent roll when he upset the American 6-3, 6-4.

Goran Ivanisevic, seeded 14th, ended the run of Boris Becker, the crowd's sentimental favorite, with a 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-5) victory.

Ivanisevic fired 17 aces, Becker 16. "I was a bit unlucky today," Becker said.

-- In Quebec City, Quebec, top seed Dominique van Roost of Belgium and second seed Sandrine Testud of France were upset in straight sets in the quarterfinals of the $164,250 Bell Challenge indoor event.

Van Roost was beaten by fifth-seeded and 38th-ranked American Chanda Rubin 6-2, 6-2. Testud was bounced by 128th-ranked Jane Chi, who became the third American to reach the semifinals with a 6-4, 7-5 victory.

-- Xavier Malisse, an 18-year-old qualifier from Belgium, beat Juan-Antonio Marin of Costa Rica 6-3, 7-5 to reach the semifinals of the Mexican Open in Mexico City.

Horse racing

Willard H. Proctor, a Thoroughbred trainer since 1938, died after collapsing while feeding his horses in his barn at Santa Anita, the track said. He was 82.

"Believe me, he was doing what he wanted to do," said trainer Kim Lloyd.

"He's the best guy I have ever been around. He was like a dad to me."

Among Proctor's best-known horses were Convenience, who won a memorable match race with Typecast at Hollywood Park in 1972 before a crowd of 53,575, and Top Rung, who upset Eclipse Award winner Jewel Princess in the Lady's Secret Breeders' Cup Handicap at Santa Anita in 1996.

Among other horses trained by Proctor were Star Of The Crop, Uniformity and Concept Win. He had 12 horses in training at Santa Anita at the time of his death.

-- Silverani closed with a rush to win the $58,775 Top Crowd Stakes at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting by 1 3/4 lengths over Kaafih Homm.

Ridden by Chris McCarron, Silverani covered 1 1/4 miles on the turf in 2:03 3/5.

Soccer

Frank Klopas scored a goal in the first overtime to lift the MLS champion Chicago Fire to a 2-1 victory over the Columbus Crew the U.S. Open Cup final in Chicago.

Boxing

Cesar Bazan of Mexico kept his WBC lightweight title with a tough majority decision over countryman Mauro Lucero, who had dropped from the super lightweight class for last night's fight in Mexico City.

Bazan, making his second title defense, improved to 34-2-1 with 23 knockouts. Lucero, the WBC's 10th-ranked super lightweight, fell to 32-4-1 with 20 knockouts.

-- Arthur Williams shook off an early knockdown and stopped defending champion Imamu Mayfield on a TKO in the ninth round to win the IBF cruiserweight title in a bout in Biloxi, Miss.

Olympics

Aboriginal athlete Nova Peris-Kneebone will start the Australian leg of a torch relay, which will involve 10,000 others before a mystery participant lights the flame to launch the Sydney Olympics.

Each of the estimated 10,000 torchbearers will run various distances as the route covers about 300 miles per day in 100 days and 1,000 towns.

The torch will also log some frequent flyer miles as it will be put on a plane 24 times to be taken to remote areas in Australia's Outback.

It starts its Australian journey in the Outback, with Atlanta Olympics field hockey gold medalist Peris-Kneebone setting out from Uluru, or Ayers Rock - the world's largest natural monolith.

The torch lands in Australia on June 8, 2000, after being lit at Olympia, Greece, early in May and then traveling through the Oceania region.

The Sydney Olympics open on Sept. 15, 2000.

Copyright (c) 1998 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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