Update on the latest sports


Russian skater leads after short program

BEIJING (AP) — Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva, the heavily favored 15-year-old dynamo at the center of the latest Olympic doping scandal, overcame an early mistake to lead after the women’s short program at the Beijing Games. She scored 82.16 points to take first place. Her teammate Anna Shcherbakova, the reigning world champion, was second with 80.60 points after a clean program. Japan’s Kaori Sakamoto was third with 79.89 points while another Russian skater, Alexandra Trusova was fourth with 74.60 after falling on her opening triple axel. The three Russian women are trying to become the first to sweep the women’s podium in the Olympics.

The U.S. figure skaters are advancing to the free skate but struggled to break through in the short program. Only Alysa Liu made it into the top 10 – placing 8th – with a more conservative skating program. Fellow American Mariah Bell also had an shaky performance. Both she and Karen Chen fell in their programs.

In other developments from the winter games:

— Mikaela Shiffrin is 0 for 4 at the Beijing Olympics after finishing 18th in the downhill. Shiffrin is planning to enter two more races: the Alpine combined on Thursday — she won a silver in that at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics — and the team event on Saturday. Corinne Suter of Switzerland won the downhill gold and defending champion Sofia Goggia of Italy had an inspiring performance to take the silver less than a month after a bad crash and serious leg injury. Nadia Delago of Italy took the bronze.

— Germany has made a whole lot of bobsled history at the Beijing Olympics. Francesco Friedrich drove to a gold medal in the two-man event. Germany also got second and third with Johannes Lochner driving to silver and Christoph Hafer piloting his sled to the bronze. That’s the first gold-silver-bronze sweep by any nation in any Olympic bobsled race. It also gave Germany seven sliding gold medals so far in Beijing.

— The top-seeded United States will face Slovakia in the quarterfinals of the men’s hockey tournament at the Beijing Olympics. Slovakia beat Germany 4-0 to knock the defending silver medalists out of the tournament. The U.S. goes into the knockout round as the only team to win all three of its group games in regulation.

— The defending Olympic champion American men’s curling team will need some help to make it to the medal round. John Shuster’s foursome lost 10-4 to Italy in eight ends. The 2018 gold medalists have one match remaining, and they’ll need to win and hope they can qualify for the semifinals through the head-to-head tie-breaker.

— For the second straight Olympics, Norway is the gold medalist in men’s team pursuit speedskating. Norway won the gold-medal final with a time of 3 minutes, 38.08 seconds — nearly 2 1/2 seconds ahead of the Russian Olympic Committee. The United States claimed the bronze by beating the Dutch in the B final.

— Canada won speedskating gold in women’s team pursuit after a skater for defending Olympic champion Japan fell on the final turn.

— Eileen Gu won’t win three gold medals at the Beijing Games, but she can still become the first extreme sports athlete to win three medals at an Olympics. The 18-year-old American-born freestyler who is competing for her mother’s home country of China narrowly missed out on the gold medal in slopestyle.

— Su Yiming gave host China its second gold medal, matching Eileen Gu with a stunning show in front of fans at the repurposed steel mill and winning the country’s first top prize in Olympic snowboarding. The 17-year-old child actor-turned-rider followed up his unexpected silver in slopestyle — he would’ve taken gold if not for a judging blunder — by joining Gu in cementing his celebrity status with a big air gold.


Kentucky visits Tennessee

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — With six straight wins, Kentucky has moved up to number-four in the rankings, heading into tonight’s game at Tennessee. The Volunteers have also moved up in the latest poll; they’re now ranked 16th.

In another game featuring two ranked teams, number-eight Providence is at home against tenth-ranked Villanova. The Friars are 21-and-2, with eight straight wins.

The Duke Blue Devils, ranked number nine, are at home against Wake Forest.

In other games involving ranked teams, number-15 WIsconsin is at Indiana, number-18 Ohio State hosts Minnesota, and Michigan State — ranked 19th — is at Penn State. Texas, at number 20, is at Oklahoma. Number-22 Wyoming is at New Mexico. And Missouri hosts number-23 Arkansas.


Celtics in Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The red-hot Boston Celtics, winners of eight in a row, are in Philadelphia tonight to take on the 76ers. The Celtics are within two games of Philadelphia atop the Atlantic Division. The Sixers are awaiting the debut of James Harden, who’s been dealing with a left hamstring issue since before his trade from the Brooklyn Nets.

Elsewhere in the NBA:

— The Memphis Grizzlies have won five in a row, and eight of their last night, heading into tonight’s game at New Orleans.

— The NBA-leading Phoenix Suns, winners of five straight, are at home against the Los Angeles Clippers.

— The Cleveland Cavaliers play the Hawks in Atlanta. The Mavericks are in Miami. The Charlotte Hornets visit Minnesota. And the Milwaukee Bucks host the Indiana Pacers.


Slowed by hamstring, Harden to make Sixers debut Feb 25

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — James Harden has an MVP and several scoring titles on his mantle – and now he’s ready to add a championship trophy.

Harden was introduced in Philadelphia on Tuesday following last week’s blockbuster trade that sent disgruntled former 76ers guard Ben Simmons to the Brooklyn Nets for Harden. In 12 seasons with Oklahoma City, Houston and Brooklyn, the 32-year-old Harden has made 10 All-Star teams, won the 2018 MVP and earned three scoring titles.

Harden has been slowed by a hamstring injury. He’s set to make his Sixers debut on Feb. 25 at Minnesota.


Simmons: Struggles in Philadelphia began before last season

NEW YORK (AP) — Ben Simmons says his mental health struggles began well before the 76ers’ season ended and he didn’t believe he’d be able to overcome them in Philadelphia. He’s eager to begin moving on with the Brooklyn Nets, though he isn’t sure yet when he will join them on the court.

Simmons spoke at the Nets’ practice center less than a week after the 76ers traded him to Brooklyn as part of a package for James Harden. The former No. 1 overall pick hasn’t played since the 76ers were beaten by Atlanta in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. He said he felt long before then he needed to leave Philadelphia.


Avalanche looks to extend point streak

DENVER (AP) — The Colorado Avalanche are 17-0-and-2 in their last 19 games heading into tonight’s game at home against the Dallas Stars. Colorado leads the NHL with 72 points, three ahead of Florida.

The New York Rangers are in action for the first time since the All-Star break, hosting the Boston Bruins. New York headed into the break with four wins in its last six overall, and seven of eight at home.

Also on the NHL schedule, the Islanders are at Buffalo, the Penguins host the Flyers, the St. Louis Blues skate at Ottawa, and the New Jersey Devils host Tampa Bay. The Capitals are at Nashville, the Columbus Blue Jackets visit the Calgary Flames, and the Edmonton Oilers are in Los Angeles.


At Skaggs trial, 4 MLB players testify they received drugs

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Four major league players have testified they received oxycodone pills from a former Los Angeles Angels employee accused of providing Tyler Skaggs the drugs that led to the pitcher’s overdose death.

Pitchers Matt Harvey, Mike Morin and Cam Bedrosian and first baseman C.J. Cron were all on the stand at the trial in Texas. They played for the Angels. Former team employee Eric Kay faces federal drug distribution and conspiracy charges. The 27-year-old Skaggs was found dead in July 2019 in a suburban Dallas hotel room.

He had choked to death on his vomit, and a toxic mix of alcohol, fentanyl and oxycodone was in his system.

In other MLB related news:

— A Chicago ticket broker convicted of taking part in a scheme to fraudulently sell tickets to White Sox games is headed to federal prison. Thirty-five-year-old Bruce Lee was sentenced Tuesday to 1 1/2 years behind bars by U.S. District Judge James Kennelly, who rejected his attorney’s suggestion that the scheme made the team money because it put concession-buying fans in the stands. A jury in October found Lee guilty of fraud. Two other men who worked for the White Sox and were involved in the scheme have pleaded guilty and cooperated with the investigation.


Steelers name Meyer as offensive line coach

PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Pittsburgh Steelers have hired Pat Meyer as their new offensive line coach. Meyer joins the Steelers after spending the last two seasons in the same position for the Carolina Panthers.

Meyer replaces Adrian Klemm, who left before the end of last season to take a job at the University of Oregon. Chris Morgan, who filled in on an interim basis after Klemm’s departure, was hired by the Chicago Bears this month.

Meyer takes over a unit that struggled for much of the 2021 season.


Super Bowl has 101.1 million TV viewers, up from 2021

NEW YORK (AP) — The Nielsen company estimates that 101.1 million people watched the Los Angeles Rams win the Super Bowl on NBC and Telemundo. That’s an increase over last year’s game won by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which had 95.2 million television viewers.

Another close finish capped a thrilling playoff season for the NFL, which had several games decided in the last minute.

NBC said that another 11.2 million people streamed the game on their devices, giving a total viewership of 112.3 million people.

The increase defies television trends lately, where most programs are down from year to year because streaming provides extra choices and lets people control when they watch.


It’s a yes! Simone Biles engaged to Jonathan Owens on V-day

NEW YORK (AP) — It’s a yes from Simone Biles to fellow elite athlete Jonathan Owens. The two posted photos of the Houston Texans safety popping the question on Valentine’s Day in a gazebo. The 24-year-old Olympic gymnast and the 26-year-old football player have been dating for nearly two years. He took a knee in a set of photos Biles posted on Instagram and Twitter. In a closeup, she lent a look at her substantial oval diamond ring as the couple held hands. Owens commented on Instagram with a heart emoji: “Ready for forever with you.”