The Ottawa Citizen from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada on February 20, 2007 · 16
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The Ottawa Citizen from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada · 16

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Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
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Tuesday, February 20, 2007
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B2 THE OTTAWA CITIZEN TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 20, 2007 SPORTS askatdiewai riik still perfect Betker in top spot atScotties BY ALLEN CAMERON LETHBRIDGE, Alta. Jan Betker is in the hunt, and she's loving it. A decade removed from her last Canadian women's curling championship, the 46-year-old skip has plenty of Saskatchewan fans jumping on . the bandwagon after a terrific start to the Scotties Tournament of Hearts. Betker's Regina foursome third Lana Vey, second Nancy Inglis and lead Marcia Gudereit extended its win streak to five yesterday, giving the team sole possession of first place after another perfect day at the Enmax Centre. "Well, there's only been five games, so I don't think you want to read too much into that," cautioned Betker, after demolishing previously unbeaten Krista Scharf of Ontario -lo-i, following up on a 9-5 romp over Suzanne Gaudet of P.E.I, in the morning draw. "But it feels great; anybody who has losses would gladly trade places with us." While Betker, the top-shooting skip at 83 per cent through five games, and Gudereit who teamed with the late Sandra Schmirler and Joan Mc-Cusker to capture three Canadian and world titles and Olympic gold in 1998 are comfortable in the first-place glare, the way Hearts rookies Inglis (McCusker's sister) and the 22-year-old Vey have responded has been a revelation. "In a way, I am (surprised)," admitted Vey, who's ranked second among vice-skips at 85 per cent. "I wasn't quite sure Blue Jays extension BY JEREMY SANDLER DUNEDIN, Florida J.P. Ricciardi intends to make good on a "promise to his friend John Gibsons, but friendship only goes so far in major-league sports. Heading into spring training, -Ricciardi, the Toronto Blue Jays' general manager, ' promised he would not let Gibbons, the team's manager and Ricciardi's former minor-league roommate, dangle late ; into the season on the final 'year of his contract He appears 'to have made good on that, too, as word of Gibbons' imminent one-year contract extension makes the rounds. . Still, as work-performance endorsements go, a one-year ;-extension and a salary bump -from $500,000 U.S. to something in the $650,000 U.S. range ' is not a ringing one. The deal, not yet finalized, puts Gibbons' contract on the back burner for now and ensures that Blue Jays players do "not view the manager as a lame duck this seasoa Still, it also keeps Ricciardi's future options open. If he has to fire Gibbons, the new contact barely puts a dent in the Major League Baseball club's operating budget of more than $100 million U.S. "We'll see how it goes," Ricciardi said yesterday. "No one's in trouble or anything like that, but just one thing at a time." In his two-plus seasons at the : helm, the affable 44-year-old "Gibbons has a 187-187 record. ' Last year, he led the Blue Jays to a second-place finish in the American League's East Division, their first finish higher Williams a no-show TAMPA, Florida Bernie Williams was nowhere to be seen, and XNew iurK ian&ees general manager Brian Cashman doesn't think that will change. . "It appears he made his decision. That's all I can take from it," Cashman said. "I'm assuming at this stage that he's not -coming." - Yankees position players had physical examinations yesterday, a day ahead of their first workout. Manager Joe Torre, fighting a cold, went home before the end of a workout and v - , '. -M : - . '- ' - - , k ' - f ' j''' "r1" """Nv With Territories lead Dawn Moses looking over her shoulder, Quebec skip Chantal Osborne of Thurso shouts to teammates sweeping one of her rocks during yesterday's early game. Quebec won 12-6. how I was going to feel out there. Nancy and I, being our first time, we're handling it quite well so far." . Kelly Scott of Team Canada set to give to Gibbons than third since 1993. However, continued improvement is also necessary. "Results dictate who keeps jobs and who doesn't," Ricciardi said. That is fine by Gibbons, too. "In this business, good results (mean) good things happen," he said. "If the team plays well, moves to the next level, maybe there is more there.... Who knows? We'll see. "But you know what? They've given me a great opportunity over here. I just want to take advantage of that." Praise for Gibbons is easy to mine from Ricciardi. The general manager likes Gibbons' strategy and how he handles players and communicates with the media. Ricciardi says he remains a strong Gibbons supporter despite high-profile blow-ups last season with players Shea Hillenbrand and Ted Lilly. "We never, ever lost confidence in Johnny," Ricciardi said. "We never, ever lost belief that he would be the guy to keep leading. His reputation is as a good guy, easy to get along with." Good guy or not, the question Ricciardi wants answered is whether Gibbons is the man to lead the Blue Jays to the postseason. Certainly, Ricciardi who values family, loyalty and friendship does not want to fire his buddy, but if events force Ricciardi to dispatch Gibbons, this new deal would constitute a severance package for his old friend. NATIONAL POST at Yankees camp didn't speak with reporters. Torre had planned to call Williams again Sunday, and Cashman said he didn't hear that a conversation took place. Catcher Jorge Posada has called Williams several times, but hasn't reached the 37-year-old outfielder. "I don't think he'll be here," Posada said. Williams has been in the Yankees' organization since signing with them in 1985, and he came up to the major leagues in 1991. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS had a chance to join Saskatchewan in first place, but suffered its first defeat yesterday evening, dropping a 7-5 decision to B.C.'s Kelley Law. Former Formula One racing champion Jacques Villeneuve sings a song from his new recording, Private. Paradise, during an album launch at his Newtown bar yesterday in Montreal. Villeneuve takes new spin as singer BY RANDY PHILLIPS MONTREAL He's no Bob Dylan, but then again, he never said he wanted to be. Jacques Villeneuve took the stage in his Newtown bar in Montreal yesterday to launch his much-anticipated debut record album, Private Paradise. The former Formula One racing world champion, with microphone in hand and backed by a five-member band before a sea of cameras and reporters, sang five of the 13 songs from the acoustic-rock CD two in French and three in English including a duet with his sister Melanie, a tribute to their late father, Gilles, titled Father. Villeneuve doesn't have the vocal strength to make it as a music chart-topper, but he showed he could carry a tune, his timing was decent enough and, while he appeared a bit stiff on stage, he received full marks for courage and seemed to enjoy himself. Where does the 35-year-old driver from Iberville, Que., who saw his 10-plus years in Fi come to an abrupt halt before the end of last season, hope his music will take him? "Music is a professional hobby. It has to remain fun," Villeneuve said. "It doesn't have to come with strings attached, obligations. As long as it's fun, then I'm sure I can do well." The album was years in the making and reflects Vil-leneuve's love of music. PATRICK PRICE, REUTERS Scott presented a gift-wrapped steal of three to Law's New Westminster outfit when her last-rock draw for a single in the fifth drifted through the "You can't get into music or making an album if you don't love music. Some people do, but it always comes out in the end," Villeneuve said. "I bought a guitar in 1996, when I started racing in Formula One, and started writing some songs. Last year, I decided to rent a studio and to record them properly and professionally to see how they would sound, and then, of course, the goal was to release it." Nine of the 13 songs are in English, Villeneuve wrote six, . and six others were written by friends. There is also a cover of Women Come, Women Go by Gazebo. Melanie has the singing voice that Jacques doesn't, and they struck an emotional note in singing the tribute to their father, an Fi legend who died May 8, 1982, in a crash in practice for the Belgian Grand Prix. Melanie wrote the first part of the song more than 20 years ago, and she asked Jacques to write the second half several years later. "We recorded this version around New Year's Eve, a very emotional moment," Jacques said in the liner notes. Villeneuve has moved to Montreal from Villars, Switzerland, with his wife, Johanna Martinez, and their three-month-old son, Jules, and he will soon take up residence in a house in Westmount. He reiterated that car racing remained his day job, and, in rmgs. That result, combined with Ontario's Krista Scharf thump ing Suzanne Gaudet of P.E.1. 10 6 on the late shift, left four teams Team Canada, B.C., Ontario and Manitoba's Jennifer Jones tied for second place with 4-1 records. The result also, more or less, made Law's B.C. title all the more official, as Scott's Kelow- na team didn't have to play in the provincial playdowns as de-fending national champs. "That was a nice one to win,' Law, the 2000 Canadian and world champion, said with a smile. "They're a mce team, and they're a good team; we haven't played them in a long time, and that was a good tune to win." Keeping pace with the lead pack is a suddenly red-hot Jones, who after losing her opener to Saskatchewan on Saturday has won four straight, including a pair of emphatic victories yesterday: 8-2 over NewfoundlandLabrador's Heather Strong (2-3) and 12-3 over Sandy Comeau of New Brunswick (0-5). Cheryl Bernard's Alberta champs from Calgary salvaged a split yesterday, dropping a disappointing 7-6 extra-end de cision to Kerry Koe of the Ter ritories, before bouncing back to hammer Chantal Osborne of Quebec 8-3 to finish the day with a 2-3 record. . Osborne's Thurso foursome, which also includes third Cheryl Morgan, second Cather ine Derick and lead Sylvie Darnel, is also at 2-3. "That feels good, and it was really nice for me to get a game like that under my belt because I've been struggling all week," said Bernard, who put together an 88 per cent game against Quebec after a 55 per cent effort against the Territories. "We have to get a couple more wins; three losses might be all you can have, I don't know." THE CALGARY HERALD O PHIL CARPENTER, THE MONTREAL GAZETTE addition to competing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans with a Peugeot team this summer, he still has designs on racing in NASCAR. Craig Pollock, Villeneuve's manager, said negotiations were continuing with NASCAR teams in an effort to find the right package for the 1997 Fi world champion, who is keen on adding a NASCAR crown to his Champ Car and Indy 500 titles. "He still wants to race, but he wants to race in such a way where if he's got a good car, he's got a fair chance of competing to win," said Pollock, who travels to Charlotte, North Carolina, tomorrow to meet with NASCAR representatives. "What is up in the air is that we are trying to finalize with title sponsors for a NASCAR program and we are very close to that title sponsorship. Then we will decide where we want to really take that so we can come into it in a very logical way." On Villeneuve's music venture, Pollock said: "It's important to everybody out there to know that this is a passion. This is not a business. His business is motor racing. (Music) is something he has always wanted to realize and I take my hat off to him because he has got an enormous amount of courage to stand up in front of everybody when he's not a singer or musician." THE MONTREAL GAZETTE BASKETBALL Nash close to return After testing his sore right shoulder in practice yesterday, Phoenix Suns point guard Steve Nash of Victoria said he hoped to return to the lineup for tonight's road game against the Los Angeles Clippers. "I didn't feel any setbacks, and hopefully if it feels good tomorrow morning and again tomorrow night, I'll give it a shot," the two-time NBA MVP said. Nash has missed four games because of shoulder inflammation. SOCCER Halka gets scholarship Leah Halka has become the sixth player from the Ottawa Fury women's program to be accepted as a studentathlete at a U.S. university for 2007-08, the club announced yesterday. A student at Sacred Heart High School, Halka, 17, earned an athletic scholarship to Fairleigh Dickinson University in Tea-neck, New Jersey, where she will also study sports psychology. UNIVERSITIES Ravens fourth in fencing The Carleton Ravens men's and women's fencing teams both finished fourth in the Ontario University Athletics championships at Hamilton. In men's sabre, Ben Riley won the individual title and led Carleton to the men's team crown. In men's foil, the Ravens placed sixth and last In women's foil, Carleton's Elizabeta Samokhina won an individual bronze, while the Ravens earned team silver. Carleton was also fourth in women's sabre. FOOTBALL Chargers hire Turner Norv Turner got his third shot at a top job when he was given a four-year contract yesterday to take over the San Diego Chargers, a team that went an NFL-best 14-2 before melting down in the playoffs and then in the front office. The hiring came a week after the surprise firing of Marty Schottenheimer and less than 24 hours after the Chargers finished interviewing the last of six candidates. Turner was the only one with NFL head coaching experience and the only one from the offensive side of the balL The Chargers also signed Ted Cottrell a two-year contract as defensive coordinator, then added Ron Rivera as linebackers coach just hours after the Chicago Bears said he wouldn't be back as their defensive co-ordi-nator. Rivera, a linebacker on the Super Bowl-champion 1985 Bears, had interviewed for the job that went to Turner. Flutie leads Hall class Receiver Darren Flutie headlines the 2007 Canadian Football Hall of Fame Inductees announced yesterday. Flutie played 193 regular-season games, catching 972 passes for 14,359 yards and 66 touch downs. He won Grey Cups with B.C. in 1994 and Hamilton m 1999. Other inductees this year will include linebacker Greg Battle, offensive linemen Rocco Romano and Pierre Vercheval and former Canadian university head coach Dave Knight, who had a 163-79-4 record at Wilfrid Laurier and Waterloo from 1966 to 1997. They will be officially inducted in Hamilton on Sept 12-15. Falcons lineman arrested Atlanta Falcons defensive line man Jonathan Babineaux was arrested by Gwinnett County police yesterday and charged with one count of felony animal abuse. A police spokesman said specifics about the case would not be released yesterday. A county sheriffs office employee said Babineaux was released on $2,300 US. bail. Argonauts sign Belli Boisterous defensive lineman Adriano Belli signed a multi-year contract yesterday with the CFL's Toronto Argonauts. A free agent who split last season with the Montreal Alouettes and Hamilton Tiger-Cats, the 29-year-old Belli is a Toronto native who owns a Mississauga meat-packing plant with his brother, MichaeL TENNIS Federer ties Connors Roger Federer tied Jimmy Connors' record of 160 consecutive weeks as the top-ranked player in men's tennis yesterday. The 10-time Grand Slam champion has held the No. 1 ATP Tour ranking since Feb. 2, 2004. The 2S-vear-oId Swiss star is assured of breaking the record next week. Connors was No. 1 from July 1974 to August 1977. He now coaches Andy Roddick. CITIZEN STAFF AND NEWS SERVICES

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