Shaun White

Shaun White goes on David Letterman, band plays NYC

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Shaun White continued his Big Apple tour Thursday with an appearance on David Letterman and a gig with his new band.

On the “Late Show,” White talked more about the new Olympic event of slopestyle, discussed a 14-year-old prodigy from Japan and poked fun at his crash at the U.S. Grand Prix in Park City, Utah, earlier this year.

The two-time reigning Olympic halfpipe champion conceded he’s got “a little catching up to do” in slopestyle before the Sochi Games.

He finished fifth in the event at the Winter X Games in January, failing to land a clean triple cork. It marked his first appearance in the slopestyle finals since he won the event in 2009.

“I tend to take the time off to compete in the halfpipe in the Olympics because slopestyle wasn’t in there,” White said. “Now, I’m playing catch-up from the last Olympics, where I haven’t been riding the slopestyle, and I’m catching up to these riders and hopefully learning tricks to surpass them.”

Letterman also asked White, 26, about the silver medalist in the superpipe from the Winter X Games — 14-year-old Japanese Ayumu Hirano.

“He’s tiny, so I think he can flip faster than me,” White said of Hirano, listed at 4 feet, 9 inches, by worldsnowboardtour.com. “I see a lot of what I was doing (at that age) in his riding.”

Letterman had an idea to hold off the teen phenom.

“You should take him out,” the host said.

“Naturally, yes,” White joked. “He’s cute, but … ”

Finally, White was shown video of his first run at the U.S. Grand Prix in Park City in February.

“Yeah, that’s not going well,” he said upon realizing which run it was. “See that wasn’t really a mistake. I was just really hungry … for snow. There’s no food at the top. Famished. … Mouth full, satisfied. There’s a smile under the mask.”

Oh, and in case you’re ever looking for Wi-Fi in the Letterman studio …

Before the “Late Show” aired, White was on stage at Santos Party House in lower Manhattan for a $15 show with his band, Bad Things, opening a 12-city tour.

NBC Olympic researcher Alex Goldberger checked it out and shared this photo of White performing on Instagram.

USA Today reviewed the event.

Wearing his Les Paul Studio guitar with a sunburst, White was just another guy in a band he formed with three childhood friends. He stood to the side of the stage, looking coolly coiffed wearing dark pants, a breezy button-down short-sleeved shirt and black dress shoes.

For once in his life, White wasn’t the center of attention, which is exactly the way he wants it. The Los Angeles-based band recently signed with Warner Bros. Records and will release an album later this year, but White wants to keep his two pursuits separate. A representative from Warner Bros. said White doesn’t want stories about the band intertwined with his snowboarding.

Bad Things plays Brooklyn Bowl on Saturday then hits other Northeast cities, Canada and the Midwest, wrapping up Aug. 9 in Minneapolis.

Video: White talks Olympics, hair on TODAY

Max Aaron retires from figure skating

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Max Aaron, a national champion and Skate America winner, has retired from competitive figure skating.

Aaron, 26, ends his career as the only Skate America men’s winner not to compete in an Olympics. He is one of three U.S. men’s champions in the last 55 years not to compete in an Olympics, along with Ryan Bradley and Rudy Galindo.

“Of course, becoming an Olympian, or having an Olympic medal would have been great to say, ride off on my white horse, but having the ability to say that I have no regrets in my entire career of figure skating, for me that is my gold medal,” Aaron said Thursday night.

Aaron, a former top USA Hockey developmental player, also figure skated growing up to help with his skating skills as one of the smaller players on his team.

He stopped playing hockey at 16 due to a broken vertebra but continued full-time with figure skating. By 2012, Aaron considered quitting figure skating after placing eighth at nationals (one year after being U.S. junior champion) and being told he wasn’t artistic enough.

But Aaron kept with it and completed a remarkable bounce back the next year, winning the U.S. title and setting himself up as a favorite to make the 2014 Olympic team.

But Aaron ended up third at the 2014 U.S. Championships. The two Sochi Olympic spots went to Jeremy Abbott and Jason Brown.

Aaron continued, becoming the first U.S. man to win Skate America in six years in 2015 and topping the short program at the 2016 U.S. Championships before ultimately finishing second to Adam Rippon.

Aaron plummeted to ninth at the 2017 U.S. Championships, coming back from offseason hernia surgery, but returned to the Olympic team radar last fall with a personal-best free skate at Cup of China, including three landed quadruple jumps. He went into the 2018 U.S. Championships ranking third among American men for the season.

But Aaron was again ninth at nationals, missing the Olympic team. He was called on to compete at last month’s world championships as the third alternate after Rippon, Ross Miner and Brown all passed.

Aaron had stopped skating and instead was training for a triathlon. He went to worlds in Milan on two weeks of training and finished 11th, a result that helped the U.S. keep three men’s spots for 2019 Worlds. Nathan Chen won the world title, but Vincent Zhou was 14th. The U.S. needed its second man to be 12th or better to go along with Chen’s first place to ensure three spots next year. Aaron reportedly said at worlds that it may have been his last competition.

Aaron said he’s started a job with Merrill Lynch.

“It’s really been a great ride. I have no regrets,” he said. “That’s one thing that I always told myself, in sport, in life, I want to have no regrets, and I can honestly say, with the help from my coaches and friends, that I have no regrets in the sport.”

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Martha, Bela Karolyi speak on Larry Nassar case (video)

Martha Karolyi, Bela Karolyi
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Former USA Gymnastics national team coordinators Martha and Bela Karolyi said they knew nothing about Larry Nassar‘s alleged abuse in an interview that airs on an hourlong NBC News “Dateline” special Sunday at 7 p.m. ET.

Star U.S. gymnasts, among more than 100 who said they were sexually abused by the convicted Nassar, said they were abused at the Karolyi’s ranch in Texas during national-team training camps.

“That’s awful, but I would say even if they have big names or they have no names, any child who was violated by Nassar, it’s a crime and it’s so sad,” Martha Karolyi told Savannah Guthrie in part of the interview that aired on TODAY on Friday.

How could the Karolyis not have known about the alleged abuses committed at their property?

“Yes, but if you couldn’t suspect anything, I heard during the testimonies that some of the parents were in therapy room with their own child and Larry Nassar was performing this — and the parent couldn’t see. How I could see?” Martha Karolyi said.

“The whole thing is just like an explosion, a bomb exploding, boom,” Bela Karolyi said.

Martha Karolyi led the national team for 15 years before retiring after the Rio Olympics. She told Guthrie that in “no way” did she suspect Nassar was sexually abusing athletes.

The Karolyis have been named as co-defendants in several civil lawsuits filed against Nassar and USA Gymnastics.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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