Olympic champion Stephan Eberharter started the defense of his World Cup overall title by winning the season-opening giant slalom yesterday in Soelden, Austria.

Eberharter ignored blustery winds on the shortened Rettenbach course to finish two runs in a combined 1 minute 49.47 seconds for his 17th career World Cup victory.

"It's a good, strong start to the season, especially with the world championships this year," Eberharter said.

Frederic Covili, who won the giant slalom World Cup title last season, finished second in 1:49.60. World champion Michael Von Gruenigen was third in 1:49.75.

Olympic silver medalist Bode Miller of the United States was in second place after the first run. However, a poor second run dropped him to fifth, in 1:49.92. . . .

The World Cup cross-country skiing event scheduled was canceled because of high winds in Duesseldorf, Germany.


Srichaphan Beats Rios

Paradorn Srichaphan came back to beat Marcelo Rios, 6-7 (7-2), 6-0, 6-3, 6-2, in the final of the Stockholm Open.

It was the second title of the year for the 23-year-old from Bangkok, who won the TD Waterhouse Cup in New York in August. The win lifted him into the top 20 in the ATP Champions' Race for the first time. . . .

In Russia, Sebastian Grosjean of France beat Mikhail Youzhny, 7-5, 6-4, to win the St. Petersburg Open for his first title of the year. . . .

Wimbledon runner-up David Nalbandian topped Fernando Gonzalez, 6-4, 6-3, 6-2, to win the Swiss Indoors for his second title of the year in Basel. . . .

Kim Clijsters overwhelmed second-seeded Magdalena Maleeva of Bulgaria, 6-1, 6-2, to win the Seat Open in Luxembourg for the second straight year.


Match Postponed

A Champions League soccer match scheduled for this week in Moscow was postponed after the siege at a Moscow theater in which at least more than 100 hostages died.

European soccer's governing body moved Spartak's match against Swiss team FC Basel from Wednesday to Nov. 6 as "a mark of respect" for the victims. . . .

Columbian soccer player Giovany Cordoba died yesterday, three days after being struck by lightning while practicing.

The 24-year-old Cordoba had three heart attacks as a result of Thursday's lightning strike, which killed a teammate. A hospital spokesman said he died of "renal, pulmonary, cardiovascular and cerebral complications." . . .

Inter Milan moved atop Serie A after it beat Bologna, 2-0, and cross-town rival AC Milan lost at Chievo, 3-2. Juventus beat visiting Udinese, 1-0, to move into third place in the Serie A standings.


Makori Leads Field

David Makori of Kenya won the Venice Marathon in a race-record time of 2:08:49.

Countryman Martin Lel was second, more than a minute behind, followed by defending champion Moges Taye of Ethiopia.

Kenyans also finished 1-2 in the women's division. Anastasha Ndereba won in 2:29:03, with Anne Kosgei next in 2:30:09. . . .

Eliud Kerling (2:12:32) led a Kenyan sweep of the top four places in the Frankfurt Marathon, run in winds that topped 60 mph and rain.

Maria Abel of Spain won the women's division in 2:26:58.


O'Connor Finishes 1st

Olympic gold medalist David O'Connor, of Middleburg, rode Custom Made to a first-place finish at the U.S. Equestrian Team Fall Eventing Championship in the horse's final competition in Fair Hill, Md., with a three-phase score of 48.61.

Austrian Stephan Eberharter opens World Cup skiing season where he left off; the overall champion won giant slalom.