Shani Davis

Shani Davis, Heather Richardson win bronze at Berlin World Cup

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U.S. speed skaters bagged two more medals on the penultimate day of the final World Cup before the Sochi Olympics on Saturday.

Shani Davis and Heather Richardson won bronze in the 1000m and 500m, respectively.

The Berlin World Cup concludes with a men’s 500m and 5000m and a women’s 1000m and team pursuit Sunday. It’s the final opportunity for skaters to qualify Olympic quota spots for their countries.

The four-time Olympic medalist Davis saw his three-race 1000m winning streak snapped by South Korean Mo Tae-Bum. Mo, the Olympic and world 500m champion, clocked 1 minute, 9.50 seconds. The Netherlands’ Michael Mulder was second in 1:09.52, then Davis in 1:09.59.

American Joey Mantia, who won his first World Cup race in the 1500m on Friday, followed with his best-ever 1000m result, sixth.

Davis, the two-time Olympic champion in the 1000m, had won the first three World Cup races in the distance this season. The U.S. has qualified the maximum allotment of 1000m skaters for Sochi, four, which will be determined at the U.S. Olympic Trials in three weeks.

The U.S. also qualified the maximum four in the women’s 500m. For the first time this season, South Korean Olympic champion Lee Sang-Hwa did not win. She wasn’t entered simply for rest, according to a Dutch report.

In her absence, Russian Olga Fatkulina prevailed in 37.92, which was .04 better than China’s Wang Beixing. Richardson, the reigning world sprint champion, was third in 38 seconds.

The Olympic medal picture is fairly clear after eight races this season. Lee is an overwhelming favorite. Fatkulina, Wang and Richardson are all in the medal mix, too, along with German veteran Jenny Wolf.

The U.S. looks like it will qualify three spots in the women’s 1500m following the Netherlands’ Ireen Wuest‘s victory Saturday. The three-time reigning world allround champion clocked 1:55.33, beating Poland’s Katarzyna Bachleda-Curus by a comfortable .6. Dutchwoman Lotte van Beek was third, and American Brittany Bowe was sixth.

Wuest passed Bowe as the World Cup leader in the distance after four races and looks like the Sochi gold-medal favorite.

Davis and Mantia joined Jonathan Kuck in the team pursuit and took ninth behind the winning Netherlands. The Dutch have won all three team pursuits this season. The U.S. was second in the first two team events.

Berlin World Cup

Women’s 500m — Race 2
1. Olga Fatkulina (RUS) 37.92
2. Wang Beixing (CHN) 37.96
3. Heather Richardson (USA) 38.00
16. Elli Ochowicz (USA) 38.99
19. Lauren Cholewinski (USA) 39.21

Men’s 1000m
1. Mo Tae-Bum (KOR) 1:09.50
2. Michel Mulder (NED) 1:09.52
3. Shani Davis (USA) 1:09.59
6. Joey Mantia (USA) 1:09.98
12. Jonathan Garcia (USA) 1:10.19
17. Mitchell Whitmore (USA) 1:10.44
19. Trevor Marsicano (USA) 1:10.53

Women’s 1500m
1. Ireen Wuest (NED) 1:55.33
2. Katarzyna  Bachleda-Curus (POL) 1:55.93
3. Lotte van Beek (NED) 1:56.28
6. Brittany Bowe (USA) 1:57.03
18. Jilleanne Rookard (USA) 1:59.90

Men’s Team Pursuit
1. Netherlands 3:41.46
2. South Korea 3:41.92
3. Poland 3;43.81
9. USA 3:47.67

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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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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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