Lindsay Benko of the United States set a world record yesterday in the 400-meter freestyle at the short course World Cup in Berlin.

Benko was timed in 3 minutes 59.53 seconds, easily breaking the mark of 4:00.03 set by Costa Rica's Claudia Poll in 1997.

"Crazy, an unbelievable record," Benko said.

Benko, slightly off the record until the final two laps, raced alone for a half lap.

"It was unbelievable how far she was ahead," said Germany's Hannah Stockbauer, who finished second, four seconds back.

Benko barely missed winning the overall title and the $50,000 first prize.

Britain's Alison Sheppard, who won the 50 freestyle, finished with 1,014, one point ahead of Benko. Points were based on wins and times.

Germany's Thomas Rupprath won three events, including a world record in the 100 medley Saturday, to clinch the men's overall title and $50,000.

Australian star Ian Thorpe beat fellow triple Olympic champion Pieter van den Hoogenband in the 200 freestyle, finishing in 1:41.69. Also, China's Yu Yang won the 200 butterfly in 2:04.90.

The short course World Cup season will be expanded from seven to nine events. Swimming's world governing body also said the final World Cup will be held in Rio de Janeiro instead of Berlin, as in recent years.


Palander Wins Slalom

Kalle Palander became the first Finnish man to win a World Cup Alpine race, capturing a slalom in which Bode Miller of the United States finished 27th in Kitzbuehel, Austria.

Rainer Schoenfelder was second, and Austrian compatriot Heinz Schilchegger was third.

Miller, the leader in the overall standings, trailed three U.S. teammates. Tom Rothrock was 19th, Chip Knight 20th and Erik Schlopy 25th.

Palander, the 1999 world slalom champion, had a two-run time of 1:41.75 on the Ganslern course.

"Of course, the world title was great, but I really wanted a World Cup win, too," Palander said. "It was a long time coming."

Miller had been hoping to give the United States another victory after teammate Daron Rahlves won Saturday's downhill.

Instead, Miller fell on his hip before bouncing up, then straddled a gate lower on the course. Miller hiked back up the slope to rerun the gate and finished 5.07 seconds behind the winner. . . .

Sweden's Anja Paerson dodged snowballs thrown by unruly fans in Maribor, Slovenia, and won a slalom for her third straight World Cup victory.

Paerson, the defending world champion and winner of a second straight giant slalom, was followed by Janica Kostelic of Croatia and Nicole Hosp of Austria.

Kostelic failed to win a slalom for the first time since December but clinched the season's slalom title.

For the United States, Kristina Koznick was seventh, and Sarah Schleper slid off the course.

Figure Skating

Russian Triumphs

Olympic silver medalist Irina Slutskaya's European title this past week was her first victory all season -- just in time to challenge Michelle Kwan, Sarah Hughes and Sasha Cohen at the world championships at MCI Center. Slutskaya fended off Elena Sokolova in Malmo, Sweden, to win her fifth European title. After beating Slutskaya at the Russian nationals, Sokolova led going into the final in a stunning display after a five-year absence. Russians swept the men's, pairs and dance titles.

Kalle Palander becomes first Finnish man to win World Cup Alpine race, capturing a slalom with two-run time of 1:41.75. Bode Miller of the U.S. placed 27th.