6 YANKS IN FINALS: At Tignes, France, six U.S. moguls skiers made finals Thursday as the 2008 World Cup season opened in soft snow. World Championships medalist Nate Roberts (Park City) led U.S. athletes, finishing fifth on a course next to the hill where American Donna Weinbrecht won the first Olympic moguls gold medal in 1992.
Canadian Pierre-Alexandre Rousseau, the current world champion, and Austrian Margaret Marbler won their respective competitions. Rousseau had 25.04 points with Finn Tapio Luusua second at 24.41 while Marbler's 24.24 easily topped Aiko Uemura of Japan (23.51).
Roberts, who took the bronze medal behind Rousseau in moguls at Worlds in Madonna di Campiglio, Italy, led three Americans into finals (top 12 from qualifying). He received 23.98 points on his final run. Sho Kashima (Zephyr Cove, Nev.) was ninth at 23.60 and Dave Babic (Washington, Vt.) was 12th.
In the women's contest, Shelly Robertson (Reno, Nev.) was seventh with 22.92, Michelle Roark (Winter Park, Colo.) eighth with 22.78 and Heather McPhie (Bozeman, Mont.) 12th.
The moguls schedule resumes on Jan. 18-20 in Lake Placid, N.Y., and at Utah's Deer Valley Resort Feb. 1-2.
OWLZ RE-UP WITH ANGELS: The Orem Owlz on Thursday announced an extension of the team's Player Development Contract with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim through 2012. The announcement was made jointly by the Angels' director of player development Abe Flores and Aaron Wells, general manager of the Owlz. The previous agreement was set to expire after the 2010 season. As the Angels' Pioneer League affiliate since 2001, the Owlz have won three league titles and six divisional titles.
SUMLIN TO HOUSTON?: Oklahoma assistant coach Kevin Sumlin will be hired as Houston's football coach, a newspaper reported Thursday. Houston athletic director Dave Maggard said he would make an announcement about the head coach at a news conference on Friday.
EVANSVILLE ANNIVERSARY: The University of Evansville held a memorial service on Thursday to mark the 30th anniversary of an airplane crash that killed 29 people, including the entire men's basketball team.
The team plane, a twin-engine DC-3, crashed in rain and heavy fog on Dec. 13, 1977, shortly after takeoff from Evansville Dress Regional Airport to Murfreesboro, Tenn., for a game against Middle Tennessee State.
"There is never a good time to lose someone you love, but what made this event so hard was the loss of so many lives," university president Stephen Jennings said during Thursday's memorial at Neu Chapel.
DUBAI MASTERS: Louise Stahle shot a course-record 8-under 64 on Thursday to take a three-stroke lead after the first round of the Dubai Ladies Masters. The 22-year-old Swede had nine birdies and one bogey in the Ladies European Tour's season-ending tournament. England's Laura Davies and Lisa Hall opened with 67s, and Sweden's Sophie Gustafson and Denmark's Lisa Holm Sorensen shot 68s. Defending champion Annika Sorenstam, who held the previous course record of 65, had a 70, while Natalie Gulbis shot a 77.
SOUTH AFRICAN OPEN: England's Robert Rock shot a 2-under 70 in windy conditions Thursday to take a one-stroke lead over South Africa's Charl Schwartzel, Alex Haindl and Ulrich van den Berg. The Englishman had five birdies and three bogeys on the Pearl Valley Golf Estates course in the event sanctioned by the Sunshine and European tours. Ernie Els opened with a 77. Darren Clarke shot a 72, Retief Goosen had a 74 and Greg Norman a 75.