AUTO RACING

NASCAR honors Harvick as Sprint Cup champion

Almost three weeks after winning his first Sprint Cup Series championship, Kevin Harvick got his official coronation at the Sprint Cup Series Awards at the Wynn Las Vegas.

“It’s like you go from this huge, competitive mode, and all of a sudden you get right out of the car, you do an interview, they hand you the trophy and then you’re off to do interviews and photos,” said Harvick, who won the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. “And it’s been hard to sit down and really kind of take a deep breath and take it all in.

SOCCER

WOMEN’S WORLD CUP: A top official for soccer’s international governing body is standing firm on the decision to play the 2015 Women’s World Cup on artificial turf.

Speaking in Ottawa, FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke said it’s “nonsense” to say that the use of artificial turf is discriminatory.

Valcke said FIFA is advancing the Women’s World Cup with increased prize money to $15 million and the use of goal-line technology, which was used in the men’s World Cup last summer in Brazil.

 Pele has recorded a video message from his Brazil hospital room to thank his fans around the world for praying for him while he underwent treatment for a urinary tract infection.

“I want to take this opportunity to thank all of you, from all over the world, who worried about my health,” the 74-year-old legend said on social media. “Thank God, I’m fine. I have recovered, I’m here with my family.”

SKIING

WORLD CUP: Lindsey Vonn is quickly getting up to speed, just not fast enough to catch up to Tina Maze in the women’s downhill opener at Lake Louise, Alberta.

The Slovenian standout finished in 1 minute, 50.98 seconds, beating Anna Fenninger of Austria by 0.45 seconds.

Vonn wound up in eighth place, 0.85 seconds behind the winning time, as she returned to the World Cup circuit following a second knee operation that kept her out of the Sochi Olympics.

 Spela Rogelj of Slovenia won the opening women’s ski jump event of the season at Lillehammer, Norway, for her first career victory.

Rogelj had jumps of 93 and 99 meters for 267.3 points. Daniela Iraschko-Stolz of Austria was second with 266.2 points, followed by defending overall champ Sara Takanashi of Japan with 265.1.

World champion Sarah Hendrickson of the United States was ninth with 248.9 points.

 Norway’s Kjetil extended his World Cup streak to three straight races with a downhill victory at Beaver Creek, Colorado.

American Steven Nyman was third.

RUSSIAN SPORTS

The Russian Anti-Doping Agency has launched an investigation into claims of corruption and systematic doping in the country and within its own ranks.

Also, the federation hit back at a German broadcaster who made the claims, calling its report a “a crudely planned attempt to blacken Russian athletics and Russian sport as a whole.”

BASKETBALL

WNBA: The Women’s National Basketball Players Association is looking for a new director of operations as Pam Wheeler is leaving at the end of the month after 16 years as director of operations. Wheeler worked on WNBA collective bargaining agreements in 1999, 2003, 2008 and 2014.

– From news services