U.S., Canada

U.S., Canada women’s hockey to play 6-game series before Sochi Olympics

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The U.S. and Canada’s women’s hockey teams are going to get very familiar with each other ahead of the Sochi Olympics.

The only two nations to win Olympic gold will play at least six times beginning Oct. 12, Hockey Canada announced Thursday.

Here’s the schedule:

Oct. 12, 7 p.m. ET at Burlington, Vt.
Oct. 17, TBD at Boisbriand, Quebec
Third game TBD in Canada
Dec. 20, 8 p.m. ET at Grand Forks, N.D.
Dec. 28, 4 p.m. ET at St. Paul, Minn.
Sixth game TBD in Canada

“The rivalry between Canada’s national women’s team and the U.S. women’s national team is one of the most exciting and intense in hockey,” Hockey Canada chief operating officer Scott Smith said in a press release. “We look forward to traveling south of the border to take on our talented American competitors, and welcoming both the U.S. team and our fans to the province of Quebec for some of the best women’s hockey in the world.”

Canada is coming off a trip to Sochi, where it beat Russia 6-1 on Sunday at 9-1 on Monday. Russia won bronze at the World Championships in April. Those results reinforced how far the U.S. and Canada are past the rest of the world.

Every Olympic and World Championships gold and silver medal has been won by the U.S. and Canada except for the 2006 Olympic silver won by Sweden. Canada beat the U.S. for gold at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, but the U.S. won 3-2 in the gold-medal game at worlds five months ago.

The U.S. and Canada are in the same group for the Sochi Olympics and will play Feb. 12 before a likely gold-medal game rematch eight days later. This is the first time they’ve been grouped together since the first Olympic women’s hockey tournament in 1998, when all the teams were in one group.

By being in the same group, the U.S. and Canada are assured to be in opposite semifinals, should they be the top two in group play.

The U.S. and Canada also played a six-game series leading into the 2010 Olympics. That’s nothing compared to 15 years ago, when the nations played a physical 13-game exhibition series, won 7-6 by Canada.

(h/t @JohnHoweNBC)

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Maggie Nichols wins NCAA all-around title with perfect 10

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Even after a perfect 10 in the last rotation, Maggie Nichols didn’t know that she had won the NCAA all-around title. Her coach at Oklahoma, K.J. Kindler, had to tell her.

The reaction?

“Excitement,” Nichols said Friday night on ESPNU. “I just wanted to go out there and feel out the equipment, staying calm and doing my routines that I have been doing in training.”

Nichols, a 2015 World team champion who retired from elite gymnastics after missing the 2016 Olympic team (set back by a torn meniscus that year), became the first Sooner to win the NCAA all-around in 30 years.

The sophomore tallied 39.8125 points and topped Olympic alternate MyKayla Skinner of Utah by .0875 for the title in St. Louis. It came one year after Nichols was 29th in the all-around with a balance beam fall.

Oklahoma and Utah will be joined in Saturday night’s Super Six team finals by UCLA, LSU, Florida and Nebraska. The Sooners eye their third straight national title.

Nichols capped her night with one of two perfect scores between the two semifinal sessions, matching 2012 Olympic alternate Elizabeth Price‘s 10 on uneven bars. It gave Nichols a second career gym slam, a perfect score on every apparatus for the season.

On Jan. 9, Nichols came forward as “Athlete A,” who first reported to USA Gymnastics that she was sexually abused by Larry Nassar in summer 2015.

“She has had a really unique year probably like no one else, and her strength showed through,” Kindler said Friday, according to the University of Oklahoma. “It was tough, and to come out on this side this year is really special.”

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USA Gymnastics settles sex abuse lawsuit

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — USA Gymnastics has reached a confidential settlement in a Georgia lawsuit that spurred a newspaper investigation into the organization’s practices for reporting child abuse.

A former gymnast filed the lawsuit against USA Gymnastics in 2013, alleging that the organization that trains Olympians received at least four warnings about coach William McCabe, who videotaped her in various states of undress.

The lawsuit revealed that USA Gymnastics wouldn’t forward child sex abuse allegations to authorities unless they were in writing and signed by a victim or a victim’s parent.

A judge in Effingham County, Georgia, dismissed the lawsuit on April 12, according to court records. USA Gymnastics admits no wrongdoing or liability in the settlement, said W. Brian Cornwell of Cornwell & Stevens LLP, the gymnast’s lawyer.

Both parties have declined to comment on the settlement.

“We want to make it clear that the settlement does not prevent the former gymnast from speaking publicly about her experiences,” USA Gymnastics said in a statement Thursday.

McCabe pleaded guilty in Georgia in 2006 to federal charges of sexual exploitation of children and making false statements. He’s serving a 30-year prison sentence.

The suit sparked The Indianapolis Star’s investigation of USA Gymnastics, which exposed abuse by Larry Nassar, a former Michigan State University sports doctor, and spurred the resignations of the organization’s president and board.

Nassar, 54, pleaded guilty to molesting patients and possessing child pornography. He was sentenced this year to prison terms that will keep him locked up for life after roughly 200 women gave statements against him in two courtrooms over 10 days.

USA Gymnastics faces additional lawsuits from women who say Nassar sexually abused them. The suits allege the organization was negligent, fraudulent and intentionally inflicted emotional distress by failing to warn or protect athletes from Nassar’s abuse. The organization has denied the allegations and wants the lawsuits dismissed.

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