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National

  • North Korea to open race to foreigners

    TOKYO (AP) — Runners of the world, unite!
    For the first time ever, North Korea is opening up the streets of its capital to runner-tourists for the annual Pyongyang marathon, undoubtedly one of the most exotic feathers in any runner's cap.
    Tourism companies say they are getting inundated by requests to sign up for the April 13 event, which this year will include amateur runners from around the world. The race includes a full marathon — with a handful of world-class, invitation-only athletes — a half marathon and a 10-kilometer run.
    The opening of the race to recreational runners is in keeping with the North's ongoing, but sometimes sporadic, effort to earn cash revenue by boosting tourism, usually with well-orchestrated group tours to major arts performances or attractions the North wants to show off.
    Earlier this year, North Korea's government announced a plan to create special trade and tourism zones across the country and unveiled its first luxury ski resort, aimed largely at luring ski enthusiasts from abroad. Under the watch of young leader Kim Jong Un, the North has also been giving sports in general a higher profile. Simple recreational sports facilities, such as outdoor basketball courts and roller skating rinks, have been popping up lately in Pyongyang and some other cities.

  • Woods to miss Masters this year

    Tiger Woods chose surgery to heal his ailing back over a quest for another green jacket, announcing Tuesday that he will miss the Masters for the first time in his career.
    Woods said on his website that he had surgery Monday in Utah for a pinched nerve that had been hurting him for several months, knowing the surgery would keep him from Augusta National next week for the first time since he was a senior in high school.
    The No. 1 player in the world is a four-time Masters champion.
    “After attempting to get ready for the Masters, and failing to make the necessary progress, I decided in consultation with my doctors to have this procedure done, Woods said. “I’d like to express my disappointment to the Augusta National membership, staff, volunteers and patrons that I will not be at the Masters.
    “It’s a week that’s very special to me,” he said. “It also looks like I’ll be forced to miss several upcoming tournaments to focus on my rehabilitation and getting healthy.”
    The Masters gets the highest television ratings of any golf tournament, and Woods commands most of the attention, even though he last won a green jacket in 2005. He won his first Masters in 1997 when he set 20 records, from youngest Masters champion at 21 to his 12-shot margin of victory.

  • Sweet 16 games are a toss-up

    The Billion Dollar Dream has been over for a while. Most bracket sheets are loaded with red X’s. Still, there is plenty of March Madness ahead of us in the NCAA tournament’s round of 16.
    You want favorites? Three No. 1s — Florida, Arizona, Virginia — are alive and well after two rounds.
    You want underdogs? How about three with double-digit seedings — Stanford, a 10, with 11s Dayton and Tennessee.
    You want a rivalry? It’s tough to beat Kentucky-Louisville.
    You want rematches? Besides Kentucky-Louisville there is Arizona-San Diego State.
    You get the point. Four days, 12 games. It’s regional weekend when the Sweet 16 is cut to the Final Four. Enjoy.

  • Fill out a billion dollar bracket

    NEW YORK (AP) — So, about that billion dollars.
    Warren Buffett looks at his offer to pay $1 billion to anyone who fills out a perfect NCAA tournament bracket as nothing more than a matter of having the numbers in his favor.
    Mathematicians say he’s right. That’s still not stopping them from building a cottage industry by teaching bracket-fillers how to make the impossible seem possible — or a little less improbable.
    Around a half-dozen college professors are offering special classes to teach people the ins and outs of the numbers that will, inevitably, work against them. And there’s one website — takebuffettsbillion.com — that says it will send a unique, statistician-crunched bracket to anyone who signs up, with the promise that all those in on the gig will split the money if one of those brackets is the winner. (As of Monday, about 9,000 people had signed up.)
    “I’d love to demystify all this,” said DePaul math professor Jeff Bergen, whose expertise has been in demand this month. “The math involved is quite simple and can be done in a high school class. What blows people away is the magnitude of the numbers. You look at the number ‘9 quintillion’ and it’s hard to wrap your head around it.”

  • Sochi Games kick off

    SOCHI, Russia (AP) — Sochi lit up Friday with music and dance to unleash the ultimate achievement of Vladimir Putin’s Russia: a Winter Olympics to showcase the best athletes on ice and snow that the world has to offer.
    The opening ceremony on the edge of the Black Sea and subsequent games are Russia’s chance to tell its story of post-Soviet resurrection to the world — and dispel the anger, fear and suspicion that has marred the buildup to these most expensive Olympics ever.
    Just after the sun set over the Caucasus Mountains and along the seashore just outside Fisht Stadium in the wet-paint-fresh Olympic Park, Russian TV star Yana Churikova shouted to a pre-show crowd still taking their seats: “Welcome to the center of the universe!”
    Soon to come are the athletes, in the traditional parade of nations that marks every opening ceremony. Some 3,000 will compete in 98 events, more people and events than ever at the Winter Games. The ceremony is crafted as a celebration of Russia and is presenting Putin’s version: a country with a rich and complex history emerging confidently from a rocky two decades and now capable of putting on a major international sports event.

  • Seahawks already eyeing 2014

    NEW YORK (AP) — Less than 12 hours after winning the Super Bowl, Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll already was talking about getting started on next season.
    “The first meeting that we’ll have will be tomorrow. ... Our guys would be surprised if we didn’t,” Carroll said Monday morning. “We really have an eye on what’s coming, and we don’t dwell on what just happened. We’ll take this in stride.”
    He appeared at a news conference at a Manhattan hotel with linebacker Malcolm Smith, the MVP of Seattle’s 43-8 victory over Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos on Sunday night.
    Carroll oversees a team with the fourth-youngest roster for a Super Bowl champion, with an average age of 26 years, 175 days, according to STATS. The youngest champs ever were the Pittsburgh Steelers who won the 1975 Super Bowl, and they collected a second consecutive title the next year.
    Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson just wrapped up his second season in the league, as did Jermaine Kearse, the receiver who caught one of the QB’s two touchdown passes Sunday night. Doug Baldwin, who caught the other, is only three years into his pro career, as are star cornerback Richard Sherman and Smith, who at 24 is the fourth-youngest Super Bowl MVP.

  • VIDEO: Broncos Orange Crushed by Seahawks
  • Manning eyes second Super Bowl crown

    For all the NFL records Peyton Manning owns — and there are plenty — he is one victory away from the one accomplishment that eventually might define his legacy more than any other.
    If Manning’s Denver Broncos beat the Seattle Seahawks Sunday, he would become the first starting quarterback to win Super Bowl titles with two franchises. Kickoff is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. and the game can be seen on FOX.
    Manning is already a larger-than-life figure in Indianapolis, of course, widely credited with turning a basketball town into a football town by making the Colts truly matter. He led them to two NFL championship games, winning in 2007, losing in 2010.
    And now Manning, at the age of 37, two years removed from sitting out an entire season after a series of neck operations, has a chance to forever stamp himself as a figure of similar importance in Denver, too. As it is, he already has joined Craig Morton and Kurt Warner as the only QBs to lead two clubs to the Super Bowl, although they didn’t win with both.

  • No snow expected for Sunday's game

    JERSEY CITY, N.J. (AP) — So much for all the hand-wringing about a snowed-in Super Bowl.
    How would freezing spectators deal with the cold at MetLife Stadium?
    What sort of havoc would a big storm wreak on transportation and other game-day logistics?
    What if the NFL decided to postpone the game between the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks for 24 hours?
    If the National Weather Service’s forecast is correct, the buzz about a blizzard at the first cold-weather, outdoor Super Bowl — the official host committee logo features a snowflake — will turn out to be just talk. As of Wednesday, no snow, or even rain, was being predicted for Sunday.
    “It would have been cool in the snow,” Seattle linebacker Heath Farwell said. “That’s, I guess, how football’s supposed to be played.”
    Players on both teams have experienced chilly conditions during games, of course, although they don’t regularly brace for conditions that are anticipated for this Sunday, even if there isn’t any snow. Sunday’s high temperature is expected to be 38 degrees, which would make it the coldest of the 48 Super Bowls so far.
    With the opening kickoff scheduled for about 6:30 p.m., the mercury could drop into the 20s by the time the game ends.

  • Tough drug-testing net in place for Sochi

    LONDON (AP) — Go ahead — just try to get away with it. If you're willing to take the risk, you'll pay the price.
    That's the challenge laid down to drug cheats thinking they can dope their way to success at the Winter Olympics in Sochi.
    International Olympic and anti-doping officials are implementing the toughest drug-testing program in Winter Games history, using intelligence to target athletes and events considered most at risk.
    Authorities are focusing their efforts on weeding out dopers through rigorous pre-games and pre-competition tests. Armed with an improved scientific method that can detect drug use going back months rather than days, the International Olympic Committee will conduct a record number of tests.
    Urine and blood samples will be stored for eight years for retroactive testing, providing further deterrence to anyone thinking they can avoid being caught.
    "I think it would be stupid to try to cheat," IOC medical director Dr. Richard Budgett told The Associated Press. "If there are any doping cases in Sochi, some of them may be because athletes are being stupid."