David Hearn and Graham DeLaet hope for a straightforward 2017 season

The Rules of Golf banned anchoring a putter to one’s body, a technique Hearn had used for a number of years, on Jan. 1, 2016.“It was obviously a transition year with the putter, so I spent a lot of time practising and put a lot of energy into that transition,” he said. After a whirlwind 2016 that included a trip to the Rio Olympics, Canadian golfers David Hearn and Graham DeLaet are looking forward to a more straightforward year on the PGA Tour.Both Hearn, 37, and DeLaet, who turns 35 on Sunday, are aware of the expectations they face as they chase a first Tour win. But it was an adjustment year for him as well as it was the first full season he couldn’t use a long putter. “There’s no specific plan for when I’ll shave or grow it. DeLaet will make his 2017 debut at the CareerBuilder Challenge next week in California. “I’m excited and proud to see the young Canadians find success on the PGA Tour and winning tournaments, but I don’t think that puts extra pressure on me.”DeLaet agrees.“My motivation has always been the same no matter who I am competing against. DeLaet got as high as 26th in the world rankings a few years ago, but the veterans have since seen younger players Nick Taylor and Mackenzie Hughes capture PGA Tour victories before they were able to crack the winner’s circle. “I would definitely say the Presidents Cup is a goal of mine, but I’m focused on my week-to-week performance and playing my best golf possible.”The first full-field event of the 2017 portion of the 2016-17 PGA Tour is this week at the Sony Open in Hawaii, which features Hearn, Hughes and Taylor. “I played a lot of tournaments because it was a big year in terms of the Olympics and I was a little bit tired going into the off-season.“It was nice to have a good holiday and I feel ready to go and very motivated to hit the ground running.”2017 is also a Presidents Cup year – a biennial competition that pits golfers from the United States against golfers from around the world (except for Europe) – and both DeLaet, who has played in the competition once before, and Hearn, have it in their sights.“Being Canadian is a source of pride to me and I feel anyone would be honoured to represent their country in any fashion,” DeLaet said. DeLaet, also withdrew from a tournament midsummer, citing anxiety while chipping and putting.“Battling injuries throughout most of a season is something no golfer wants to go through,” he said. I just go day to day and make a decision depending on how I feel.”Hearn had a steady season, finishing 56th in the FedEx Cup standings and earning more than $1.2-million (U.S.). Obviously these guys [Hughes and Taylor] are a new breed of golfers, but at the end of the day you just have to concentrate on your own game,” he explained from Boise, Idaho.While both Hearn and DeLaet enjoyed a rare experience in Rio, where golf made its return after 112 years, DeLaet had another off-course highlight. He and his wife, Ruby, welcomed twins Roscoe and Lyla in late 2015 and it was his first full year as a father.Although DeLaet said it was “the best year of [his] life,” he admitted he got frustrated battling injuries as he earned the least amount of money since his 2011 season. “The guys are getting younger on Tour, there’s no doubt.“Actually, they’re coming on at the same age, and I’m getting a little bit older,” he added with a laugh. “I’d certainly love to get that first win soon,” Hearn said from his home in Delray Beach, Fla. He said it’s likely to be around for a while.“There’s not strategy behind the beard, but I enjoy and appreciate the culture behind it,” he said. “I think I learned not only how to take care of my body properly, but also how to fight through adversity.”DeLaet also cultivated a now famous beard.

Maple Leafs rookies keep on surprising – and keep the team surging

“Willie [Nylander], Connor [Brown] and Zach Hyman were there every night playing their best hockey and being a huge part of this team.“We all know that within this room. However, one reason the Leafs are surging at the halfway point of the NHL season is that a lot of the rookies in the team’s supporting cast are almost as surprising as first-year sensations Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner. “Rather than not knowing what to expect, I had 16 games last year, which I thought I played well in.”The progress has been so quick that it is hard to believe it will hold for the rest of the season, but the Leafs keep defying conventional wisdom. After back-to-back wins over the New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators on the weekend, the Leafs are now third in the NHL for length of time in the lead.“We’re staying in our system and keeping our foot on the gas, rather than sitting back and letting things happen,” Hyman said of the difference in the team’s third-period play. We’re getting better, I think, [at] understanding what’s expected, that we’re good enough to win every night if we play right. 3: forwards Zach Hyman, Connor Brown and William Nylander and defenceman Nikita Zaitsev. Throw in 22-year-old defenceman Connor Carrick, who is in his first season as an NHL regular, and the Leafs are getting a surprising bounty from the kids.“The first couple of weeks of the season, there was a lot of attention on us and how well [we] were playing,” said defenceman Morgan Rielly, another of the youngsters getting rave reviews along with his partner, Zaitsev. It can be argued that, in addition to Matthews and Marner, at least four other rookies are making significant contributions to the Leafs’ recent 8-1-1 run and to their 10-4-4 record since Dec. They go about their business, play hard every night. With 28 points in 41 games, Brown is the more offensively gifted, but Hyman never stops checking or digging for pucks.Nylander has also racked up 28 points – and he has managed that despite bouncing all over the lineup this season, from the fourth line to stints with Matthews.Hyman says getting to play for the Leafs near the end of last season made his transition from minor leaguer to full-time NHLer a lot easier.“I got a little taste of it last year so I felt like I wasn’t a true rookie coming in,” he said. But head coach Mike Babcock likes to think that light at the end of the tunnel just might be a speeding train, so he issued a warning after Monday’s practice.“Let’s not get carried away here,” he said. Teams on the rise share one thing in common with teams on the decline – a lack of depth – which usually spells trouble as the playoffs hove into sight.Lack of depth usually means not enough savvy veterans for the supporting cast and too many youngsters, something that could be said about the Toronto Maple Leafs if you just looked at the birthdays on the roster. They have now made inroads on their penchant for blowing leads in the third period. Those things are positives.“So I guess our biggest improvement is understanding and expectations. There were eight rookies on the roster as of Monday’s practice, when the Leafs were preparing to open a four-game home stand Tuesday against the Buffalo Sabres. “We’re taking things to the other team now and hopefully continuing to do that.”The Leafs’ rise back into a playoff spot, third in the Atlantic Division with six games in hand on the second-place Boston Bruins, has fired up the giddiness quotient among the fans and media. Saying that, it is Game 41 – I’ve been in the league a long time and lots of things can go good and lots of things can go bad.” “We got a lot of work to do here. They are a big part of this team.”Brown, 23, and Hyman, 24, have played on either side of Matthews for the entire season, and the trio is now one of the best lines in the league. They don’t get the media attention. We know where we’re supposed to stand and we expect to have success.

Still in recovery, Jared Sullinger itching to join Raptors on the court

“I’m a kid in a candy store but I’m just not allowed the candy yet.”There is no timetable for Sullinger’s return to active duty, but a reasonable guess would be by the end of the month.There is no hurry, as the Raptors have been faring just fine without his looming presence, which is anticipated to be in the starting lineup at power forward when Casey feels he is ready.The Raptors remain the leaders of the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference, having won their last three games to improve their record to 27-13 on the season.The team is now starting on a three-game road trip that will begin Tuesday night in Brooklyn against the Nets, the outfit the Raptors rolled over 132-113 on Friday at Air Canada Centre.A win on Tuesday will give Toronto 28 victories by the season’s halfway point, which would represent a franchise record for most wins through the first 41 games.The Raptors had recorded 27 wins at the midway point of the 2014-15 season. “He’s been going after every rebound like I’ve been telling him the whole year and I think it’s finally clicked for him.“Hopefully it only gets better from here.” All the things he will do will kind of fit right in and really help us and better the chemistry and help the ball movement.”Last season with the Boston Celtics, Sullinger averaged 8.3 boards and 10.3 points in 81 games and helped Boston into the playoffs.His physical presence will be a welcome addition to a Toronto team that has struggled at times rebounding the ball this season, their 42.9 average per game ranking them in the league’s lower echelon.Centre Jonas Valanciunas has picked up the pace of late, recording his third straight double-double against the Knicks, with 12 points and 16 rebounds.Last Tuesday against the Celtics, Valanciunas plucked a career-high 23 off the glass.“JV’s playing unbelievable,” Sullinger said. “That’s one of his gifts, his rebounding the basketball, his screening, his shooting. “We’re probably not practising as long, film sessions are not as long as they used to be. I’m not hip enough I guess to change too much, so we try to keep things the same and be consistent in what we do.”Which brings us back to Sullinger, and how his anticipated return to the lineup might affect a Raptors outfit that has jelled nicely during his absence.Casey said it is not a concern, that Sullinger understands all the sets and schemes that the Raptors run for the power forward position.“He’ll help us, he’ll help our rebounding tremendously,” Casey said. It’s a light exercise that rarely produces even a single bead of sweat. “And any time you mess with that, you mess with the game and I think you mess with the basketball gods. Last season, Toronto had 26 wins through the first 41 games and would go on to record a franchise-best 56 victories.It is getting to that point of the season where the drudgery of the day to day can start wearing on a team, where shortcuts in training can lead to bad habits in the games.Casey said he is well aware of the mid-season pratfalls, but points to one magic elixir that can keep a team fresh.“I know it sound facetious, but winning does that,” Casey said. When you are 6-foot-9 and 260 pounds, it makes sense to take things easy when the injury is to your foot.So when Sullinger received clearance Friday that it was safe to resume full practice, it was welcome news.“There’s a lot of work that has to be done for me to be where I want to be,” Sullinger said. Afterward, with most of the Raptors trooping back into the locker room to begin preparing for the real thing, Jared Sullinger instead headed upstairs to the practice court at Air Canada Centre to get his serious workout in.For the rehabbing plus-sized Raptors power forward, it was primarily just running and working on his shot for the next hour or so.Anything, Sullinger said, to get him back to a semblance of game condition so he can return to the court as soon as possible to show the Raptors what he has to offer.Sullinger, Toronto’s prime free-agent acquisition during the off-season, has not played a second for his new team after injuring his left foot during training camp in October.Following surgery, when he had a screw inserted into the bone of his baby toe, it has been slow going for Sullinger. With a mid-afternoon start at home on Sunday against the New York Knicks, there was no time for the Toronto Raptors to hold a normal pregame shoot-around, which is a ritual for most NBA clubs.Instead, Toronto coach Dwane Casey had the players arrive about three hours before game time to participate in what is known as a walk-through, in which the team gathers on the court to go over the scouting report on the upcoming opponent. Trying to keep guys mentally fresh as anything.”Casey said the game of basketball is about rhythm, continuity and consistency, and he does not like to alter the program all that much.“So we try to keep that the same,” he said.

Steelers play down coach Mike Tomlin’s description of Patriots

Antonio Brown wanted to let the world in on the party when he live streamed the giddy celebration in the Pittsburgh Steelers’ locker room after an 18-16 playoff win over Kansas City.The All-Pro wide receiver also happened to catch coach Mike Tomlin indelicately describing the New England Patriots, Pittsburgh’s opponent in the AFC Championship game. “Those odds are for people that bet on the game. It’s a bunch of guys having fun, talking, enjoying themselves. We play the game.” I can’t be some old guy stuck under a rock, that’s for sure.”Brown’s 17-minute video collected more than 900,000 views in a few hours before being removed (though it lives on through YouTube).It included players dancing and Tomlin — who was out of the shot and unaware it was being filmed but who could be heard clearly in the packed locker room — beginning his postgame speech by telling his team to “say very little moving forward” then adding “we spotted those (expletive) a day and a half.”New England advanced to the AFC title game by beating Houston on Saturday night, 24 hours before Pittsburgh held off the Chiefs.Guard Ramon Foster “would love to hear AB’s explanation” but downplayed any concerns about the video becoming a distraction or taking away from Pittsburgh’s ninth straight victory.It’s also not unusual for Brown to use social media in the locker room during the week or occasionally after games even though it may run afoul of league policy.“I don’t think that overshadowed it,” Foster said. “That’s how we’re going to be this entire week is to keep rolling, keep doing our job because at the end of the day it’s who’s the best team that day. That’s it.”New England beat Pittsburgh 27-16 on Oct. 23 behind two touchdowns from Tom Brady and 127 yards rushing from LeGarrette Blount.Pittsburgh (13-5) played without quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who sat out while recovering from surgery on his left knee.Backup Landry Jones was steady if not spectacular, throwing for 281 yards with a touchdown and an interception.The Steelers actually outgained the Patriots by 13 yards (375-362), but settled for three Chris Boswell field goals when they needed touchdowns in hopes of pulling off an upset.It’s an issue that popped up again on Sunday night, when Boswell drilled a post-season record six field goals to provide all of Pittsburgh’s 18 points.More will almost certainly be required against New England, which is averaging 31.6 points a game at home when Brady plays this season.That will be challenging enough, not worrying about getting worked up over something Tomlin thought he was saying in the intimacy of the locker room or even the slight head start the Patriots will have in preparations.“I just like to keep rolling,” Foster said. It just so happened they heard what the coach was going to say. They’re going to study everything we do, so it’s not like we’re going to sneak up on them. Tomlin’s word choice — an expletive — didn’t bother his players as Brown’s decision to throw back the curtain on what is usually a private moment.“Personally I’d like some of that stuff sacred,” long snapper Greg Warren said Monday. That’s simply what that was. “They know for us to be in this game is not a secret. It wasn’t anything malicious. The rest don’t matter.”Tomlin’s vocabulary or the oddsmakers who have made Pittsburgh a decided underdog included.“I think we proved that wrong this weekend,” Foster said. “You guys know what that was. “But this is a changing world, a changing environment. It just happens that (Brown’s) iPhone is really good.”Besides, Foster hardly thinks New England (15-2) will use Tomlin mildly dissing them as an incentive, not with a chance to reach a seventh Super Bowl under Bill Belichick at stake.“The Patriots watched our game, they know everything about us,” Foster said.

AP source: Bautista and Blue Jays working hard on return

The sides are discussing one-, two- and three-year agreements. A person with knowledge of the negotiations tells The Associated Press that outfielder Jose Bautista and the Toronto Blue Jays are “working really hard” to bring him back to the club.The person spoke on condition of anonymity Monday because negotiations are ongoing. After Toronto ended a 22-year playoff drought with an AL East title in 2015, Bautista hit a memorable three-run homer in Game 5 of the AL Division Series against Texas, punctuating his shot with a bat flip.He did not accept Toronto’s $17.2 million (U.S.) qualifying offer. The 36-year-old Bautista hit 22 homers with 69 RBIs last year while batting .234 in an injury-slowed season.Bautista (265) ranks second behind Carlos Delgado (336) on Toronto’s career home run list.

Federer returns with a win at Aussie Open, joins Murray in second round

1 at a major for the first time, had some nervous moments in her 6-2, 5-7, 6-2 win over Lesia Tsurenko.Kerber won her first Grand Slam title in Melbourne last year, beating Serena Williams in the final after saving a match point in the first round.After wasting a match point before her serve was broken as Tsurenko rallied to win the second set, Kerber said her mind raced back 12 months.“When I lost the second set, and I had match point, I was thinking about my match last year in the first round,” she said. I’ve never won here — I’m going to try to change that this year.”Wawrinka, who made his Grand Slam breakthrough in Australia in 2014, narrowly scraped past 35th-ranked Martin Klizan 4-6, 6-4, 7-5, 4-6, 6-4.In the ninth game of the fifth set, Wawrinka smashed a soft half-volley from Klizan straight back into the Slovakian’s body, clipping the frame and just missing his midsection. 20 Zhang Shuai.Sixteen-year-old Destanee Aiava became the first player born in this millennium to play in the main draw of a major, but the milestone match ended in a 6-3, 7-6 (4) loss to Mona Barthel. 16 Lucas Pouille was the highest-ranked of the three men’s seeded players to lose.Five of the women’s seeded players went out, including No. Roger Federer shanked a few shots and was unsettled by how nervous he felt after six months on the sidelines, despite the familiar surroundings at the Australian Open.No other man on tour knows the way around a Grand Slam tournament better than Federer, who is playing in his 69th major and has won a record 17. Open champion Marin Cilic, 2008 Australian Open finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, No. 14 Nick Kyrgios returned from his suspension for underperforming in Shanghai last year and raced through a 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 win over Gastao Elias.No. Angelique Kerber, defending champion and ranked No. 5-seeded Kei Nishikori. “In the warmup … He served 19 aces and had only one double-fault in a 7-5, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 win Monday over fellow 35-year-old Jurgen Melzer, but dropped serve three times and experienced frustrating moments.“I was feeling nervous once the match actually started,” said Federer, who hadn’t played at tour level since Wimbledon after taking time off to let his injured left knee heal. 15 Roberta Vinci, who lost to CoCo Vandeweghe.Seven-time major winner Venus Williams beat Kateryna Kozlova 7-6 (5), 7-5, and 2014 Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard continued her recent resurgence by routing Louisa Chirico 6-0, 6-4.Joining them in the next round will be French Open champion Garbine Muguruza, Olympic gold medallist Monica Puig, No. So was No. 8 Svetlana Kuznetsova, No. 4 Simona Halep, who lost 6-3, 6-1 to Shelby Rogers in the first match on Rod Laver Arena, and No. Then I hit four frames in a row. I felt fine. 19 John Isner, No. 23 Jack Sock, No. He returned for Wimbledon, reached the semifinals, then didn’t play again in 2016. 29 Viktor Troicki and No. In November, he fell out of the top 10 for the first time in 734 weeks.The 17th-seeded Federer wasn’t the only highly ranked player to find the going tough Monday.Stan Wawrinka, the U.S. “First rounds are always tough.”In his first Grand Slam match with the elevated status of having a knighthood and the No. It was like, ‘Whew, it’s not as easy as I thought it was going to be.’“I struggled for a while to find that groove, that rhythm.”Federer had surgery on the knee after a semifinal exit at the last Australian Open and missed the French Open, ending his streak of 65 consecutive Grand Slam tournaments. 11 Elina Svitolina and No. He stepped over the net and ensured Klizan was OK, then held serve in that game and broke in the next game to finish it off.Nishikori beat Andrey Kuznetsov 7-5, 1-6, 6-4, 7-6 (6), 6-2. Open champion, was pushed to five sets. 10 Carla Suarez, No. Joining him in the second round are 2014 U.S. 1 ranking, Andy Murray berated himself when he made mistakes and frequently yelled during a 7-5, 7-6 (5), 6-2 win over Illya Marchenko.In other words, nothing much has changed.The five-time finalist comfortably navigated what he hoped was the first step to a drought-breaking Australian Open title.Murray has lost four of the last six finals in Melbourne to six-time champion Novak Djokovic.Gaining the top ranking and receiving the civic honours doesn’t change anything for Murray, who said he faces “the same pressure, same expectations. 31 Sam Querrey.Also, No. 27 Bernard Tomic, No.

Eugenie Bouchard opens Aussie Open with first-round win

Canadian tennis star Eugenie Bouchard has advanced to the second round of the Australian Open.The native of Westmount, Que., ousted American Louisa Chirico 6-0, 6-4 in 56 minutes.The pair didn’t begin play until nearly 11 p.m. Bouchard made the semifinals at Melbourne Park in 2014, and followed that up with a semi appearance at the French and the final at Wimbledon.But injuries and poor form have since seen her ranking drop out of the top 20.On Monday, Bouchard won the opening set in 18 minutes and broke Chirico in the third game of the second set before serving to win, clinching the match when Chirico sent a forehand long.No. after Stan Wawrinka needed nearly 3 1/2 hours to beat Martin Klizan in five sets in the preceding match. 3 seed Milos Raonic of Thornhill, Ont., opens play Tuesday against Germany’s Dustin Brown.

Steelers hold off Chiefs on Boswell’s six field goals, 18-16

A 43-yarder midway in the fourth quarter gave Boswell the NFL record.Kansas City’s Cairo Santos got in on the kicking act with a 48-yarder to make it 15-10. Roethlisberger hit Antonio Brown for 7 yards on third down and Pittsburgh then ran out the clock, securing a ninth straight victory for the Steelers. That led to Boswell’s second field goal, a 38-yarder. Who needs to reach the end zone when you have Le’Veon Bell chewing up yards and the clock, and Chris Boswell setting an NFL playoff record with six field goals?Throw in a stingy Pittsburgh defence for most of Sunday night, and a multitude of mistakes by Kansas City, and the Steelers’ 18-16 victory sent them into the AFC championship game. The Chiefs have not won a home playoff game since 1994, losing five in a row.The scoring started furiously in the opening minutes, then the game became a kicking exhibition by Boswell, who also had six field goals in the regular season against Cincinnati. The Steelers (13-5) needed to hold off a last-ditch threat by the Chiefs (12-5) before advancing to face New England next Sunday night for a spot in the Super Bowl. Chiefs All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce had a rough game, including a big drop and a 15-yard roughing penalty in the third period.UP NEXTSteelers: Head to New England for a shot at making the Super Bowl. He added a team-record 170 yards rushing to the 167 he had in a win over Miami last week.The Steelers became first team to win a playoff game without a TD since eventual Super Bowl champion Indianapolis in the 2006 AFC divisional round at Baltimore.Using a no-huddle attack almost to perfection early on, the Steelers drove deep into Kansas City territory. Fans arrived early, tailgated in the rain as the worst of the storm never hit the area. … He added a 36-yarder to cap a 14-play drive on which Pittsburgh again barely huddled.A clean game up until then turned to, well, turnovers, on successive series. Boswell’s four first-half field goals tied the team record for an entire playoff game. And Bell put on a virtuoso running performance, patiently finding holes and then exploding through them. At that point, 10 seconds from the end of the third quarter, the Chiefs were outgained 333 yards to 150.WEATHERMANSwitching the game from noon local time to an evening kickoff to avert an ice storm had no effect on the crowd. But they bogged down inside the 5 and Boswell made a 22-yard field goal.The Chiefs were just as efficient on a six-play march capped by receiver Albert Wilson lining up in the backfield, then slipping uncovered into the end zone for a 5-yard score.Pittsburgh’s answer came on a 52-yard heave to All-Pro Brown, who somehow was covered by linebacker Justin Houston. Bud Dupree pounded Alex Smith, whose pass shot high into the air and was caught by linebacker Ryan Shazier.The Steelers got to the Kansas City 5, where Frank Zombo leaped to deflect Roethlisberger’s throw, and All-Pro safety Eric Berry — burned for 26 yards on the previously play — picked it off in the end zone.Boswell’s fourth field goal, from 45 yards, made it 12-7 at the half. The next try failed.With 2:43 remaining, Justin Gilbert misplayed the kick return and was tackled at the Pittsburgh 5. The Patriots won at Pittsburgh 27-16, but Ben Roethlisberger was injured and didn’t play.Spencer Ware’s 1-yard touchdown run took Kansas City within 18-16. … His 43-yarder, setting the franchise record for a post-season game and tying the league mark of five, came on Pittsburgh’s first series of the second half. Not that what was going on was worth watching for Chiefs fans.NOTESBell rushed for almost as many yards (101) in the first half as the Chiefs gained (106). The Chiefs at first converted the 2-pointer to tie it, but tackle Eric Fisher — the first overall selection in the 2013 draft — was penalized for holding. But fog rolled into Arrowhead Stadium in the second quarter, obscuring some views from on high.

Canadians Vathje and Rahneva win skeleton gold, bronze at Winterberg World Cup

I had an inkling that I could win here today, even though Jacqueline (Lolling) is incredible on this track. “It is pretty cool and surreal to be back on top of the podium,” said Vathje. To be able to materialize it on the track is a great feeling.”North Vancouver’s Jane Channell finished in 12th at 58.86 despite putting down the fastest start time in the field.It was the first time in four years that two Canadian skeleton athletes shared the World Cup podium. We always have a great battle here.”It is the second podium for the hard-working Rahneva in just her fourth race. The last two Canadians to reach the podium together were Sarah Reid and Mellisa Hollingsworth when they finished one-two in Lake Placid during the 2012-13 season.“It’s awesome to have two of us on the podium and really shows the depth of our program,” said Vathje. Calgary’s Elisabeth Vathje and Ottawa’s Mirela Rahneva won gold and bronze respectively in skeleton on Sunday a World Cup event in Winterberg, Germany.Vathje slid to a golden time of 58.02, while Rahneva clocked-in at 58.14 for the bronze in the weather-shortened one-run race. “I love coming to Winterberg and have always enjoyed this track. “I must have visualized 100 runs this week and continuously practised laying on my sled. It was nice to come here and do well,” said Rahneva. All three of us are forces to be reckoned with. We love this sport and our country so much so it is awesome to show our depth.”The race was originally stopped due to heavy snow after the first seven sleds went down the track. Germany’s Jacqueline Loelling was second at 58.12. Her first podium in Europe, she also slid to the bronze at a World Cup stop in Lake Placid, N.Y., just prior to the holiday break.“I had a rough week in Altenberg, but I knew it was important to stay strong and positive. “I really hope we can get Jane up there on the podium with us. Officials planned to call the race off, but after a lengthy delay, the weather cleared, and a one-run race was re-started from scratch.

Canada’s Marielle Thompson and Brady Leman take gold and silver at ski cross World Cup

Both Dave Duncan of London, Ont., and Kris Mahler of Canmore, Alta., who also had a crash today, both failed to qualify for the quarter-finals.Joining Thompson on the women’s podium was Switzerland’s Fanny Smith in second place and France’s Marielle Berger Sabbatel in third place.Switzerland’s Alex Fiva won the men’s race ahead of Leman and Switzerland’s Armin Niederer. Holding his second-place spot through the finish line, Leman now sits in second-place overall on the tour. The hard crash sidelined her for the rest of Sunday’s competition.On the men’s side, Ian Deans of Kelowna, B.C., qualified for the quarter-finals where his competition ended for the day. Drury made a textbook pass in the quarter-finals to advance to the semifinals, ultimately finishing the day in seventh.Georgia Simmerling of West Vancouver, B.C, crashed over the finish line in third place of her semifinal to advance to the small final. Five Canadians finished in the top 10, including veteran Chris Del Bosco of Montreal who won the small final, finishing in fifth. Marielle Thompson of Whistler, B.C., saved her best run for last on Sunday, winning gold in women’s ski cross while Calgary’s Brady Leman took silver in the men’s event at the World Cup.Thompson took an early lead in the final heat and held it all the way down the track to win the title.Leman earned his second silver in as many days, making it his fourth podium finish of the season. Joining Del Bosco in the small final was Toronto’s Kevin Drury, who continues to add solid top-10 finishes after joining the Canada ski cross World Cup team last season. Leman had to work hard to maintain a top-three finish throughout the big final.

Taylor Hall scores winner, Devils beat Canucks 2-1 in overtime

At the other end, an Alex Biega blast ricocheted off the post, behind Schneider in the crease and out.The Canucks’ struggling special teams (1 for 8 in their last game) couldn’t convert two power-play chances, late in the first and early in the second.Vancouver made it 1-0 at 6:31 in the second with Henrik Sedin dishing from his office behind the opposing team’s net. But Vancouver head coach Willie Desjardins successfully challenged the play was offside and the goal was called back to stay 1-1 with just over three minutes left.Eriksson had a glorious chance from the slot in the final minute, while on a 4-on-4, but he shot wide, sending the game to overtime. Taylor Hall scored in overtime and the New Jersey Devils beat the Vancouver Canucks 2-1 on Sunday.Kyle Quincey scored in regulation for the Devils (18-18-9), who have won two straight after losing four in a row.Former Canuck Cory Schneider made 21 saves for New Jersey.Loui Eriksson scored for the Canucks (20-19-6), who have dropped four straight games after winning six in a row coming out of the holiday break. Backup Jacob Markstrom got the start for Vancouver and made 20 saves.Hall’s overtime winner came on a 2-on-1 with Damon Severson. The assist inched Sedin two points away from 1,000 in his career.The Devils tied it with three minutes left in the second. Quincey’s blast from the blue line caromed off Markus Granlund’s defending stick and over Markstrom’s left shoulder.After a hooking call on Daniel Sedin in the third put New Jersey on the power play, Vancouver’s Brandon Sutter sprung in on a short-handed breakaway that Schneider made a big save on.The Canucks squandered their own power-play opportunity at 7:51 of the third, with Blake Coleman off for cross-checking.Coleman looked to have scored soon after by banking it in off Markstrom’s pad. Hall chose to hold the puck and beat Markstrom through the legs.Markstrom was pressed into action early when a giveaway near the blue line led to a breakaway for Adam Henrique, whose hard shot Markstrom deflected off his stick. He found Eriksson streaking in and the winger banged it past Schneider for his 10th of the year.

Patrick Chan looks to regain confidence at National Skating Championships

Making Canadian figure skating history at the national championship isn’t as important to Patrick Chan as recovering his morale.The three-time men’s world champion can match the record for Canadian men’s titles this week in Ottawa by equalling the nine won by Montgomery Wilson between 1929 and 1939. “It’s such a great place to regain some confidence.“It gives me another chance to get another program out there and get my legs under me right before Four Continents and the world championships.”The 26-year-old from Toronto took a hiatus from skating in 2014-15 after earning a silver medal at the 2014 Winter Olympics.When he returned to competition, Chan had no choice but to up his technical difficulty with big jumpers such as Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan, Shoma Uno of Japan and American Nathan Chen in the field.“At this point in figure skating, the jumps really dictate the performance a lot,” Chan said.“The next goal would be, once I’m able to do two quad toes and a quad Salchow in the long program, would be maybe to add a quad toe and a quad Salchow in the short program to replace the triple Lutz.”Chan landed a quad Salchow late in his free program in Marseille, but believes he may have focused on it at a cost to his other elements.“Maybe the anxiety and the anticipation of getting to the quad (Salchow) being the third jump, I maybe overlooked the important elements or tools I needed to tell myself to do a good quad toe, to do a good triple axel,” Chan said.“That was one of the things I, we had to be aware of for the next competition.”He won Skate Canada in October on the strength of his artistic marks in the free skate. Surprising yourself is always quite fun.” Second after the short program, three falls in his long program dropped him to fifth.The Canadian championship starting Monday at TD Place Arena is Chan’s chance to start the second half of his competitive season on a strong note.“A good program at nationals is pretty important,” Chan said Friday during a media conference call. Chan is coming off a disappointing free skate in December’s Grand Prix final in Marseille, France. Despite a fall on his quad Salchow at the Cup of China in November, Chan still moved from third after the short program to first.In dissecting what went wrong in Marseille, Chan is addressing the time between the six-minute warmup for the free skate and his performance, which can be 45 minutes if he’s last in the order.“I’ve been working with sports psychologists trying to deal with controlling the anticipation, the anxiety, obviously the nervousness,” Chan explained.“Trying to control, whether it’s with breathing exercises or using actual tools or machines or whatever to keep myself calm leading up to my turn to skate, I think that will really promote a good state of calm and physical feeling going into the long program if I were going to skate last.”The idea that he can scale new heights with quads he’s never done before, plus his ambition to skate winning short and long programs at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, is what drives Chan now.“My most important long-term goal going into next year’s Olympics is to skate two really great programs at one event, a clean short program and a clean long program, having done everything I planned to do and executing it well,” he said.“If you asked me four years ago if I would be landing a quad Salchow or putting it in a long program, I wouldn’t believe it.

Vancouver Whitecaps’ Kekuta Manneh looks to have breakthrough MLS season

Kekuta Manneh’s days of commuting to work from the United States are over.The electric Vancouver Whitecaps midfielder/forward, a native of The Gambia, had been living in Point Roberts, Wash., in order to build up the residency needed to qualify for American citizenship.Point Roberts is part of the United States, but is not physically connected to it. On Saturday, he was watching and filming Manneh at practice with the U.S. And he always tried to have a Plan B.“I know all the routes,” Manneh said with a chuckle.His perseverance was rewarded last Wednesday when U.S. It’s a talent he first honed on bumpy patches back home in The Gambia, a small country on the west African coast that is surrounded by Senegal.“I had to work on it … I’m still working on it,” Manneh said of his remarkable ball skills. We know that he’s still very young but I’ve been working with him for five years now, so I probably know him better than he knows himself.”Pa-Modou Kah also knows Manneh inside out. Toronto traded away the first overall pick to New England, then took Canadian midfielder Kyle Bekker (now a Montreal backup) with the third selection before trading the fourth pick to Vancouver.Manneh entered the MLS record books as an 18-year-old rookie in just his fourth start, becoming the youngest player to score a hat trick in a 4-1 victory over the Sounders in Seattle. It was also the first league hat trick in Whitecaps history.In four seasons with Vancouver, Manneh has played in 98 league games (60 starts) with 22 goals and 12 assists. This year he should be consistent with what he does – in terms of goal production and in terms of assist production. The 1,200-hectare enclave is located on the southern tip of the Tsawwassen Peninsula, below the Vancouver suburb of Delta. But who wants to cross the border to get to work? Last year, he missed half of the 2016 season due to a foot injury that required surgery.Restored to health, he is looking for a breakthrough season.Whitecaps manager Carl Robinson, who campaigned behind the scenes to get Manneh a U.S. “He’s an exciting talent. We had lawyers and agents helping me and my family. A centre back, he played club football in Sweden, the Netherlands, Qatar and Saudi Arabia before coming to MLS to play for Portland and Vancouver.Kah, who has a Canadian-born daughter with his Dutch wife, speaks Arabic, Dutch, English, German, Norwegian, and Wolof – the main Gambian language he uses to speak to Manneh. But also in terms of overall work ethic. The Gambian-born Kah roomed with Manneh when they played together on the Whitecaps.“I consider him as my little brother,” said Kah, who now serves as player-coach for Vancouver’s USL side FC Whitecaps 2.The 36-year-old Kah still has Manneh’s back. Missing out on the Gambian speedster was just part of the fallout of an ill-conceived day of wheeling, dealing and drafting by then-Toronto general manager and president Kevin Payne. “Leaving my family behind and coming thousands of miles away.”LaRhonda and Eric Niccum were Manneh’s Texas hosts when he arrived. He is lightning fast, with extraordinary dribbling skills – able to twist and turn defenders like a corkscrew. That is not something you teach somebody. call-up, is doing his bit to help his youngster flourish. I think he can improve that bit much more, because he has it in him.“But what he has when he is on the ball, that is God-given talent. Soccer announced that the young Whitecap had received his citizenship. Eventually they became his adoptive family.Manneh went on to play for the PDL’s Austin Aztex and had just turned 18 when he was drafted fourth over all by Vancouver as a Generation Adidas player after a sparkling showing at the pre-draft combine.Toronto FC fans may be forgiven for grinding their teeth when they watch one of Manneh’s many dazzling runs. TFC had several chances to take Manneh at the 2013 draft. Some tips for international commuting: Manneh tried to have a little bit of both country’s cash in his wallet at all times. We knew it was going to be difficult but if we achieved the right steps, we would get it – so we weren’t worried about it.”Having previously played for the Gambian under-20 team, Manneh still needs a waiver from FIFA to play for the United States. But he too has high expectations.“It’s an exciting time for him,” Robinson said. “Every day is a learning day for me.”Manneh, whose mother died when he was 10, came to the United States on a soccer exchange with the Texas Rush team when he was 15. That is coming, although no one seems sure exactly when.Manneh did not look out of place at the U.S. He saw it as a “different challenge, a new opportunity” to get closer to his goal of being a pro soccer player.“So it was very exciting, but it was scary at the same time,” he said. team. The news coincided with the 22-year-old Manneh’s first appearance at a U.S. camp Saturday, his fluorescent yellow boots standing out against the lush practice pitch just outside the StubHub Center. “But in football, there’s more to it than just flashy moments. The two talked at length after the session.“He’s the kind of player that you pay to come to watch,” said Kah. national team camp.“We knew the process going into it,” Manneh said of the citizenship chase. Depending on the traffic, it’s about a 45-minute drive to Vancouver. All the other stuff is teachable and his approach to it is very good so he just has to keep working.”Like Manneh, Kah has travelled the world.He left the Gambia for Norway with his family when he was eight and went on to become a Norwegian international. “We figured out all the solutions.

St. Louis Cardinals eye playoffs with new addition Fowler, returning Lynn

The 22-year-old struck out 52 batters in 46 innings last season while compiling a 1.57 ERA.All in all, Mozeliak is confident St. Louis’ National League-best 2.94 ERA in 2015 ballooned to 4.08.Lynn won 60 games for the Cardinals from 2012-15, and his return coincides with what’s expected to be a full season in the starting rotation from talented righty Alex Reyes. Louis can improve on last season’s 86 wins – regardless of what the Cubs do.“I’ll tell you this, nobody in our clubhouse is conceding anything,” Mozeliak said. Louis Cardinals already have plenty of motivation – they’re focused on returning to the playoffs, rather than trying to overtake the rival Chicago Cubs.In fact, Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak really wants to avoid any notion that the Cubs winning the World Series is the driving force behind St. A month before spring training, the St. “I always feel like it’s sort of dangerous to simply chase your neighbours,” Mozeliak said. Louis’s push to improve after missing the postseason for the first time since 2010. The right-hander missed this past season after elbow surgery, a key reason why St. Louis might not say it’s directly chasing the Cubs, it certainly added a key component from its rival in the off-season with the signing of outfielder Dexter Fowler.The 30-year-old, who had a career-best .393 on-base percentage last season and scored 84 runs in 125 games, brings an element of athleticism desperately needed by a Cardinals team that was last in the National League with 35 stolen bases.He’s also brought a renewed sense of optimism in St. “That phrase, ‘Keeping up with the Joneses’ can be dangerous … I think the best strategy is try to build a club that you think has a chance to win your division [and] get to the postseason.”While St. “No one is waving a white flag and saying, ‘We’re just playing for second.’ I think that type of thought process would just be crazy and, candidly, that’s why I think all of us are just excited to get this thing started.” Louis, where finishing 17 1/2 games behind anyone – much less the Cubs – is never acceptable.Along with Fowler’s arrival, the Cardinals’ hopes for 2017 have been bolstered by the return of a healthy Lance Lynn.

Crosby’s field goal seals Packers’ 34-31 win over Cowboys

This time it was a catch, and another win for the Green Bay Packers.Call it a “Half Mary” from Aaron Rodgers.Rodgers threw a 36-yard pass to a toe-dragging Jared Cook on the sideline, and Mason Crosby kicked a 51-yard field goal as time expired, sending the Packers to the NFC championship game with their eighth straight win while thwarting a huge Dallas rally in a 34-31 victory in the divisional round of the playoffs Sunday. And Crosby had to make the winner twice after Dallas coach Jason Garrett called timeout before the first attempt.Rodgers, who sparked last week’s wild-card win over the New York Giants with another Hail Mary before halftime, is headed to an MVP showdown with Atlanta’s Matt Ryan next Sunday. The throw on the run from Rodgers to Cook – confirmed on review – wasn’t nearly as debatable as Dez Bryant’s famous catch that wasn’t in the Cowboys’ divisional round loss to Green Bay two years ago.Cook kept both feet inbounds with a knee just above the ground out of bounds.And it came after the Cowboys tied the game twice in the final five minutes behind rookie sensations Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott in their playoff debut.It was the third field goal of more than 50 yards in the final 1:38 – two from Crosby and one from Dallas’s Dan Bailey. The first was Dallas in 1972, when “Captain Comeback”, Roger Staubach, rallied the Cowboys for a 30-28 win over San Francisco.Instead, Dallas ended up with its fifth consecutive loss in the divisional round and a 21-year drought in trips to the NFC championship game.Prescott got the Dallas rally going with a 40-yard touchdown toss in the first half to Bryant, the first playoff TD for the star receiver.Then he set the stage for the first tying score on a six-yarder to Jason Witten, also the first post-season touchdown for the 14th-year tight end.Rodgers led the Packers to a go-ahead 56-yard field goal from Crosby with a big boost on a pass interference penalty against rookie Anthony Brown that wiped out an interception from Jeff Heath, whose pick earlier in the game helped Dallas rally.The Cowboys answered with a 52-yarder from Bailey. It will be his third NFC title game – all on the road.Green Bay’s win was the first by a road team after 12 successive home victories in the playoffs dating to last season.The Cowboys (13-4) almost became the third team in the Super Bowl era to win in the playoffs after trailing by 15 points in the fourth quarter.