Gymnastics: It was apparent from the first apparatus at the World Gymnastics Championships in Tokyo that the United States women had something special going.
First Aly Raisman did what she described as her “best vault ever.” U.S. all-around champion Jordyn Wieber followed with a nerveless and technically well-scored vault that was marred only by a tiny bobble on the landing.
Finally, in the three-up, three-count format of the team finals, 15-year-old McKayla Maroney completed a huge amanar (a difficult move requiring 2 1/2 twists), where she soared high over the apparatus.
Maroney landed lightly and without the movement of a toe. She scored a 16.033, the highest of any competitor Tuesday night, and even the Russians burst into applause.
The U.S. had a total of 46.816 on vault, more than two points better than any of the other eight teams, and went on to win the world title by four points over Russia. And that was without Alicia Sacramone, the defending world vault champion, in the lineup.
Sacramone tore her Achilles tendon during a practice tumbling pass and flew home to Massachusetts for surgery in hopes of keeping her Olympic dream alive.
The U.S. finished with an overall total of 179.411 while Russia was well behind with 175.329.
Defending Olympic champion China took the bronze over Romania with a score of 172.820.
The U.S. hit all 32 routines during preliminaries and the team finals and also earned Sacramone a record 10th world championship medal even though she was in Massachusetts. Because Sacramone was an official member of the six-woman team, she got a medal without setting foot on an apparatus.
Sidney who? Another win for Penguins
NHL: Matt Cooke scored his team-leading third goal of the season and Pittsburgh raced past visiting Florida 4-2.
Pascal Dupuis, James Neal and Richard Park also had goals for the Penguins, who are off to their best start in 17 seasons despite playing without captain Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
Crosby remains sidelined while he recovers from concussion-like symptoms, but Pittsburgh hasn’t needed him during the season’s first week, improving to 3-0-1.
• Alfredsson gives Senators shootout win: Daniel Alfredsson scored Ottawa’s third straight shootout goal and the host Senators rallied for a 4-3 home victory over Minnesota.
Commish says Big 12 set for 10 teams
College athletics: Interim Big 12 Commissioner Chuck Neinas said the conference is set with 10 teams for 2012 with the addition of TCU, even though Missouri is exploring a possible departure to the Southeastern Conference.
“If Missouri was going to change horses, it wouldn’t be for 2012 anyway,” Neinas said.
The Big 12 has given no deadline for a decision from Missouri, though Neinas said there would need to be some determination by the end of the current academic year.
• Central Florida coach says foresees Big East move: Central Florida coach George O’Leary said he’s hearing from friends around college football with no ties to UCF that “everything’s in place” for the Knights to soon be invited to join the Big East Conference.
O’Leary declined to identify his friends, but said he’s been kept in the loop by UCF officials. However, the coach said he had no idea if UCF had been extended an official invitation from the Big East.
Sub leads Ecuador over United States
Soccer: At Harrison, N.J., second-half substitute Jaime Ayovi beat defender Tim Ream to a cross and scored in the 79th minute, giving Ecuador a 1-0 exhibition win over the United States in another setback for the Americans under new coach Jurgen Klinsmann.
The U.S. has just two goals since Klinsmann took over, tying Mexico 1-1 and losing to Costa Rica and Belgium 1-0 before last weekend’s 1-0 victory over Honduras.
Ayovi was marked by Ream about 8 yards from the goal but easily got free of the young defender and headed Walter Ayovi’s cross to the left of goalkeeper Tim Howard in one of the few scoring chances for either team.
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