STONE WINS AERIALS TITLE: Olympic gold medalist Nikki Stone overcame an ailing back, 60-degree weather in Carrabassett Valley, Maine, and soft snow conditions Saturday to win her fourth U.S. aerials title.

But Olympic men's champion Eric Bergoust sputtered, and Matt Chojnacki collected his first overall U.S. Freestyle Championships crown. Stone finished with 182.13 points. Kelly Hilliman was second with 145.13.


GRETZKY WILL RETURN: Wayne Gretzky will return to the New York Rangers next season, although he said the team will need to make personnel changes to improve on a disappointing 1997-98 season.

Despite published reports that he may want to finish his career outside New York as the Rangers try to rebuild their team, Gretzky told Fox's John Davidson that he will be at Rangers' training camp next season.

Figure skating

KULIK WITHDRAWS: Olympic champion Ilya Kulik of Russia withdrew from the World Figure Skating Championships on Saturday in Minneapolis with a back injury. No details of the injury were released, but Kulik missed the European championships earlier this year with back problems.


FAN KILLED AT GAME: At Gillingham, England, a soccer fan was attacked and killed at an English division-two game between Gillingham and Fulham on Saturday.

Police said a man had been arrested in connection with the case.


CARDENAS SENTENCED: Former Cincinnati Reds shortstop Leo Cardenas has been sentenced to 90 days in prison for beating a man with a baseball bat last year.

Cardenas, 59, pleaded guilty last month to a charge that he beat Orenthal Tate, 27, while he sat with Cardenas' wife, Lois, in a parked car Nov. 18.


LIPTON CHAMPIONSHIPS: At Key Biscayne, Fla., Venus Williams relied on patience rather than power to rally past Anna Kournikova 2-6, 6-4, 6-1 in an all-teen final Saturday at the Lipton Championships.

The much-anticipated high-noon showdown fizzled from an artistic standpoint, with ragged performances by both players.

But the 17-year-old Williams, who won her first career title at Oklahoma City four weeks ago, continued her rapid rise on the WTA Tour. She'll be ranked a career-high 10th next week.

In the men's final today, Andre Agassi will seek his fourth Lipton title against Chilean Marcelo Rios.


NAGLE RELEASED FROM HOSPITAL: Carri Nagle, a member of the U.S. women's junior team, was released from a hospital Saturday in Knoxville, Tenn., after suffering a sprained back while practicing for the International Team Championships. Nagle, of Whitehall, Pa., was taken to the University of Tennessee Medical Center on Friday after she slipped off the uneven bars at Thompson-Boling Arena.


STANFORD WINS SWIM TITLE: Short of draining its pool overnight, there was nothing defending champion Auburn could have done to prevent Stanford from winning the NCAA swimming title Saturday. After building a 103-point lead over the Tigers in two days, the Cardinal got even stronger on the final night, easily bringing the title back to Stanford for the first time since 1994.