Jimmy MacNeil of Brantford, Ontario, has glided to a smooth victory in the Zamboni Driver of the Year contest.
In fact, you could say he cleaned up.
Just before the final votes rolled in during the wee hours yesterday morning, MacNeil--known as The Iceman--topped the voting with 177,560 votes.
His nearest rival, Detroit's Al Sobotka, had 97,265.
It was a big victory for the humble 38-year-old, who credits everyone but himself for the overwhelming win. Sobotka resurfaces the rink for the NHL Red Wings, and MacNeil works for a church hockey league.
The contest, started as a publicity stunt to highlight Zamboni's 50th anniversary, developed a life of its own, said Cathy Zamboni, who's been involved in the Web site election since its beginning.
At one point, ballot-stuffing by computer buffs nearly cost the Canadian candidate about 140,000 votes, leading Zamboni to put in a much more rigorous voting system that asks for e-mail addresses before votes were confirmed.
The winner will drive the Zamboni at the NHL All-Star Game Feb. 6 in Toronto.
Daly, Davies Team Up
Long hitters John Daly and Laura Davies posted a bogey-free round of 8-under-par 63 to share the first-round lead at the $2 million JCPenney Classic in Palm Harbour, Fla. They joined defending champions Steve Pate and Meg Mallon, and the team of Rory Sabbatini and Pat Hurst at the top of the leader board in the best-ball format. The 72-hole event features 52 mixed tandems comprising members of the LPGA and PGA tours. . . .
Scotland's Paul Lawrie played aggressive, attacking golf, firing a 7-under 65 to take a one-stroke lead over countryman Colin Montgomerie after the first round of the Million Dollar Challenge in Sun City, South Africa.
Muhammad Ali was honored as the Sportsman of the Century during Sports Illustrated's 20th Century Sports Awards at Madison Square Garden.
Babe Ruth was honored by the magazine's editors as the best baseball player, Michael Jordan was selected the top basketball player, Jim Brown the best football player, and Wayne Gretzky the best hockey player.
In other awards, Carl Lewis was selected the best Olympian, Jack Nicklaus the top male individual athlete and Babe Didrickson Zaharias the top female individual athlete.
The magazine also honored seven athletes who had a special impact on their sports: golfer Arnold Palmer, soccer player Pele, driver Richard Petty, baseball player Jackie Robinson, basketball player Bill Russell, figure skater Peggy Fleming and tennis player Billie Jean King.
Megan Quann, a 10th-grader from Puyallup, Wash., set the American 100-meter breaststroke record at the U.S. Open swimming championships in San Antonio. Quann finished in 1 minute 7.94 seconds to break the mark of 1:08.09 set by Amanda Beard at the 1996 Olympics.
BoxingL. Ali to Fight Laila Ali, the daughter of former heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali, will face Nicolyn Armstrong on Dec. 10 in Detroit. The four-round fight will be the third as a professional for Ali, who won her second bout--a fourth-round knockout of Shadina Pennybaker on Nov. 10 in Chester, W. Va.
Denver Deal Off
Ascent Entertainment Group Inc. said it canceled a planned sale of its two teams and a sports arena to billionaire Donald Sturm after he couldn't work out an agreement with the city of Denver.
Sturm had bid $461 million for the NBA's Denver Nuggets, NHL's Colorado Avalanche and the newly built Pepsi Center, but had been unable to agree with the city over keeping the teams in Denver for 25 years and setting a final sale price.
France Is Ready
French captain Guy Forget kept with his winning Davis Cup formula by picking Sebastien Grosjean to face Australia in this weekend's finals in Nice, France. There had been speculation that Forget might select Fabrice Santoro or Nicolas Escude to play singles after Grosjean practiced this week with a taped thigh.
U.S. Is Fourth
The United States finished fourth at the men's World Cup, missing an automatic berth for the 2000 Olympics, but still has two other chances to qualify for the Sydney Games. Russia won the round robin tournament with a 9-2 record, and Cuba, Italy and the United States finished 8-3. With tiebreakers, Cuba finished second, Italy third and the United States fourth.
The three top finishers qualified for the Olympics, but the other teams can qualify by winning either one of the five continental tournaments in January or one of three international qualification tournament in July.
AMERICA'S CUP CHALLENGER SERIES
YESTERDAY'S HIGHLIGHTS: Front-runner Prada had instant success with its second yacht, beating the New York Yacht Club's Young America by 23 seconds in the opening race of the America's Cup challenger series third round robin. The Italian entry, which won 19 of 20 races with a different boat in the opening two rounds, unveiled a slightly narrower version for the final round. Each victory is worth nine points. America True, currently in fifth place, opens the third round today against Dennis Conner's Stars and Stripes, another one-boat team. The top six of the 11 teams qualify for next year's semifinals.
Results yesterday in the third round robin of the Louis Vuitton Cup challenger series for the America's Cup in Auckland's Hauraki Gulf:
Prada def. Young America by 23 seconds.
AmericaOne def. Fast 2000
by 33 seconds.
Abracadabra def. Spanish Challenge
by 27 seconds.
Stars and Stripes def. Young Australia
by 1 minute 14 seconds.
Nippon def. Le Defi Francais
Bye: America True.
Stars and Stripes 45.5
America True 38
Abracadabra 2000 25
Young America 24
Spanish Challenge 17
Le Defi Francais 14
Young Australia 9
Fast 2000 8