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Monday, February 26, 2007 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Winter Sports | Ohno captures 8th national title

CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio — Apolo Ohno of Seattle won the eighth national title of his career at the U.S. short-track speedskating championships, which ended Sunday at the Cleveland Heights Community Center.

Ohno, who won gold medals at the 2002 and 2006 Olympics, was competing for the first time since the 2006 Games in Turin, Italy.

Of the layoff, Ohno told The Plain Dealer of Cleveland: "It was well needed. I wouldn't say I'm 100 percent right now, but I feel pretty good."

Ohno, 24, qualified for the world championships, which start March 9 in Milan, Italy. He ranked first in every category at nationals to finish with 170 points.

Jordan Malone, a Long Beach, Calif., resident, was second to Ohno with 67 points.

Ohno won the first of his national titles in 1997.

In addition to training for worlds, Ohno will be practicing for ABC's "Dancing with the Stars," which has a March 19 season premiere. Ohno's dance partner will be Julianne Hough.

Allison Baver, a Colorado Springs, Colo., resident, won the women's title with 150.50 points. Kimberly Derrick, a Caledonia, Mich., native, placed second with 76.50.

Baver, who is Ohno's girlfriend, said she expects Apolo to fare well on the dance floor.

"He definitely has some moves," Baver told The Plain Dealer. "We've done some salsa dancing."

Other events

• Skier Marlies Schild of Austria clinched the World Cup slalom title with two races to spare and is focusing on the overall World Cup trophy. She won a slalom event in Sierra Nevada, Spain, to move into first place in the overall standings.

Tanja Poutiainen of Finland was second. Julia Mancuso of Olympic Valley, Calif., was the top American, finishing 15th.

Mario Matt of Austria won a slalom in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, for his seventh World Cup victory. Felix Neureuther of Germany was second.

Americans Bode Miller and Jimmy Cochran were among a group of skiers who failed to finish the first run.

• Steve Omischl won the World Cup men's aerials title by finishing first with a score of 247.49 points in the Canada Post Freestyle Grand Prix in Penticton, B.C.

The Canadian beat American Jeret Peterson for the overall title with 406 points to Peterson's 368. Peterson finished third in the event with 231.53 points.

Australian Jacqui Cooper won the World Cup overall women's aerials title and finished first in the women's event with a score of 198.73.

• American Zach Lund won a skeleton race Saturday in Koenigssee, Germany, to clinch the overall World Cup title — a year after missing the Turin Olympics because of a drug suspension.

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