Bode Miller's

ploy to gain a better starting position backfired when he slammed into a gate and finished fourth in a World Cup downhill won by Italy's

Christof Innerhofer

yesterday in Bormio, Italy.

Miller missed Saturday's compulsory bib draw and was fined $933 and given the No. 46 starting spot, allowing him to ski when there was more sunlight on the icy Stelvio course.

International Ski Federation president Gian Franco Kasper called Miller's move "a mockery." He said there will be an inquiry to determine if the New Hampshire skier intentionally skipped the draw.

Innerhofer, the first starter out of the gate, notched his first World Cup victory. He was timed in 2 minutes, 3.55 seconds on a 2-mile course icier and harder than usual.

Top skiers are usually drawn between 15 and 22. Miller said he was absent because he was getting medical attention following a minor injury in training. Miller, who has yet to win this season, added that he didn't mind being penalized. "It was more my wrist is busted up and I needed to get it fixed," he said.

Miller finished 1.15 seconds behind. He was faster than Innerhofer through the first two time checks before his upper body lashed into a gate at high speed.

In other winter-sports events:

* American Todd Lodwick was runner-up for a second straight Nordic combined World Cup event in his comeback from nearly 3 years of retirement, losing to Anssi Koivuranta, of Finland, in Oberhof, Germany.

* Nancy Swider-Peltz Jr. won her first all-around national title and Chad Hedrick won the men's all-around at the U.S. Long Track Speedskating National Championships at the Pettit National Ice Center in West Allis, Wis.

College Football

* Phillip Livas returned a kickoff 97 yards, Daniel Porter rushed for 78 yards and a touchdown and Louisiana Tech (8-5) defeated Northern Illinois (6-7), 17-10, to win the Independence Bowl in Shrevesport, La.

* Gus Malzahn, who directed one of the nation's top-ranked offenses at Tulsa, was hired by new Auburn coach Gene Chizik as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

Sport Stops

* The creator of the Gully Creeper, a dance step made famous by champion sprinter Usain Bolt at the Olympics, was slain early Friday in Jamaica. Police say David Alexander Smith, 36, was shot to death at a Kingston nightclub.

* Minnesota Twins slugger Justin Morneau was honored as Canada's male athlete of the year by the Canadian Press. He beat out Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby for the Lionel Conacher Award. *