Sweden's Anja Paerson won the giant slalom at the world championships yesterday, dominating both runs and finishing 1.55 seconds ahead of Denise Karbon of Italy in St. Moritz, Switzerland. Allison Forsyth of Canada was third.

"I didn't really believe I would win the giant slalom by one and a half seconds," Paerson said after her trademark celebration in the finish area.

Paerson had a combined time of 2 minutes 30.97 seconds and gave Sweden its first gold of the championships.

For the United States, Kristina Koznick was 12th and Caroline Lalive was 27th.

Olympic champion Janica Kostelic was 13th, severely bruising her arm and hurting her shoulder blade when she clipped a gate. . . .

The Chinese pairs won the top three spots resoundingly, skating with brilliant technique and artistry that earned them some perfect scores at the Four Continents Skating Championships in Beijing.

World gold medalists Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo took first.

China also dominated the men's short program, with Li Chengjiang skating a nearly flawless routine.


Stars' Turco Out

Dallas Stars goalie Marty Turco went on the injured list with a bad ankle and will have to wait to break the Stars' record for consecutive games without a loss.

Forward Brenden Morrow (chest bruise) also went on injured reserve. . . .

Tampa Bay Lightning forward Andre Roy was suspended for three games without pay for shoving an official during a game against the New York Islanders. . . .

St. Louis Blues center Doug Weight is out indefinitely with a broken bone in his face.


Sting Hires Bickerstaff

Former NBA coach Bernie Bickerstaff was hired as general manager of the WNBA's Charlotte Sting, and assistant Trudi Lacey was promoted to head coach.

The 58-year-old Bickerstaff has coached the Washington Bullets/Wizards, Denver Nuggets and Seattle SuperSonics.

Lacey takes over for Anne Donovan, who left in December to become head coach of the Seattle Storm. Donovan also handled personnel for the team. . . .

Ray Allen, Tim Duncan, Jason Kidd and Tracy McGrady were the first four players chosen for the 2004 U.S. Olympic men's basketball team, with Kobe Bryant conspicuously absent -- for now.

The long-awaited announcement was made in Colorado Springs by USA Basketball, which said Bryant could be added to the team at a later date once a contractual issue is cleared up.


NBC to Air Pro Fights

NBC will televise pro boxing for the first time since 1992 when it shows three Saturday cards in May. The network will air the fights as part of a deal with boxing promoter Main Event, which agreed to share promotion and production costs in exchange for part of the ad sales from the events. . . .

Great Falls 154-pounder Jimmy Lange will headline a fight card March 15 at the D.C. Armory, the first of what Washington promoter Jeffrey Jackson hopes will be four monthly shows at the venue next to RFK Stadium. Lange (18-1-1) is scheduled to fight Baltimore's Charles Clark (14-13).


GW Inductions

Seven people will be inducted into George Washington's athletic hall of fame at 7 tonight in the Marvin Center ballroom: Shannon Higgins-Cirovski, women's soccer; Jim Goss, baseball; Sonni Holland, men's basketball; Wade Hughes, wrestling; Lisa Shafran, women's tennis; Karin Vadelund, women's basketball; and Svetlana Vtyurina, volleyball.


The French Extension

ESPN signed a four-year contract extension to cover the French Open through 2006.

ESPN and ESPN2 will air a total of more than 80 hours from this year's tournament starting May 26. ESPN will show both women's semifinals June 5 and one men's semifinal the next day.

NBC will show the men's and women's finals, as it has every year since 1983.

Pro Football

Surgery for Kearse

Tennessee Titans defensive end Jevon Kearse underwent successful surgery on his left foot in Charlotte.

Kearse broke the fifth metatarsal in his left foot early in Tennessee's season opener. He returned for the final three games of the season, but was hampered by pain in the foot.


Iraq's Coach Leaving

Iraq national team coach Bernd Stange is planning to leave the country because of the possibility of war.

Stange, the former East Germany coach, signed a four-year contract on Nov. 11 to coach both the national team and Olympic team.