Shani Davis

Shani Davis takes second in first race of speed skating season

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Shani Davis opened the World Cup speed skating season by matching his finish in the 1500m at the World Single Distance Championships in March.

Davis, 31, took second in the 1500m behind the Netherlands’ Koen Verweij in Calgary, Alberta, on Friday. The Dutchman won in 1 minute, 42.78 seconds.

Davis clocked 1:43.11 in his second-best event. Davis, a two-time Olympic champion in the 1000m, won Olympic silver medals in the 1500m in 2006 and 2010.

Races continue through the weekend. Davis’ best event, the 1000m, is Saturday at 1:30 p.m. ET.

Dominant South Korean Lee Sang-hwa won the first of two women’s 500m races this weekend in 36.91, beating veteran German Jenny Wolf (37.14).

The two best U.S. women’s speed skaters, Heather Richardson and Brittany Bowe, placed fifth and 10th, respectively. Bowe skated a personal-best 37.69.

Claudia Pechstein, 41, won the 3000m in 3:59.04 over Olympic champion Martina Sablikova. The Netherlands’ Ireen Wust, the top all-around skater the last three years, was third.

Women’s 500m (Race 1)
1. Lee Sang-hwa (KOR) 36.91
2. Jenny Wolf (GER) 37.14
3. Wang Beixing (CHN) 37.40
5. Heather Richardson (USA) 37.61
9. Brittany Bowe (USA) 37.69

Men’s 500m (Race 1)
1. Ronald Mulder (NED) 34.41
2. Mo Tae-Bum (KOR) 34.52
3. Jamie Gregg (CAN) 34.52
8. Mitchell Whitmore (USA) 34.68

Men’s 1500m
1. Koen Verweij (NED) 1:42.78
2. Shani Davis (USA) 1:43.11
3. Kjeld Nuis (NED) 1:43.75
19. Joey Mantia (USA) 1:46.28

Women’s 3000m
1. Claudia Pechstein (GER) 3:59.04
2. Martina Sablikova (CZE) 3:59.39
3. Ireen Wust (NED) 3:59.68

World Cup speed skating season storylines

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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