Sports in brief - 2012-01-26

  • 2012-01-25

Arena Riga had a full turnout on Saturday for the annual Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) All-Star game, which brought together the best players from across the league. Despite Team Ozolins, a team made up of the best players from the Eastern Conference, including Dinamo Riga captain Sandis Ozolins and three of his Dinamo Riga teammates, losing the defense-less showpiece 15-11 to Team Federov, a team made up of the best players from the Eastern Conference, the fans went home smiling, knowing that the day was less about the result, but more about the opportunity to see the best players in the league on the ice together. Prior to the main show, players from both teams also competed in a number of skills-based challenges. During the various challenges, two new records would be broken with Dinamo Riga’s Mikelis Redlihs breaking the KHL record for skating the fastest lap around the rink, completing the loop in 13.86 seconds. Team Federov’s Alexander Ryazantsev would also break a record with the Traktor defenseman clocked hitting the at 183.67km/hr – a new KHL record.

Estonian Kaia Kanepi’s stay at the Australian Open did not last much longer than that of other Baltic tennis players with the 26-year-old bowing out in the second round of both the women’s singles and doubles. Coming into the tournament as one of the most in-form women on tour, the 25th-seeded Kanepi blitzed her first round opponent, Johanna Larsson of Sweden, 6-2, 6-4 but in the second round her tournament would come to a halt against a player who has troubled her in the past, Ekaterina Makarova of Russia. Makarova played a near perfect match, failing to serve a double fault or make an unforced error, whilst Kanepi would produce six of each, doing herself no favors as she fell 6-2, 7-5. Joining up with Julia Goerges of Germany in the doubles, the pair got off to a strong start, knocking out the 15th-seeded American pairing of Abigail Spears and Racquel Kops-Jones, 6-1, 4-6, 6-3. However, not unlike in the singles, Kanepi would collapse in the second round with Russians Svetlana Kuznetsova and Vera Zvonareva easily accounting for the Estonian and her German partner, 6-0, 6-3. Fellow Estonian Jurgen Zopp and Latvia’s Ernests Gulbis had already bowed out of the tournament prior to last week’s edition went to print, with both losing their opening round men’s singles matches.

After spending one year on the sidelines to recover from arthroscopic surgery to repair a serious meniscal tear to his right knee, Lithuanian basketball player Linas Kleiza has returned to action, playing for National Basketball Association (NBA) club the Toronto Raptors. Kleiza sustained the injury last January playing for the same club, forcing him to sit out the 2011 European Basketball Championship, which was held in Lithuania. In his seven games since returning, the small forward has seen all his minutes come off the bench for a struggling team, averaging 5.3 points and 3.4 rebounds a night in a little under 15 minutes’ playing time. The Raptors currently have one of the worst records in the league, having won just four of their opening 17 games, giving them the third-equal worst record in the competition. Kleiza is considered to be a key component to Lithuania’s chances of making it through the Olympic qualifying tournament and continue their record of being the only team, other than USA, to make it to the semi-finals of every Olympics tournament since Barcelona in 1992. The Olympic qualifying tournament will take place in Venezuela in July – just weeks out from the opening games in London.