Polina Edmunds

Polina Edmunds, boosted by recent win, hopes reputation doesn’t impact Worlds

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At 16, Polina Edmunds already knows that reputation matters in the judged sport of figure skating.

Edmunds, the youngest U.S. competitor across all sports at the Sochi Olympics, endured growing pains and nerves in the fall to claim the biggest victory of her career last month.

She expects to win a medal at the World Championships next week. She believes that those outside her camp are giving her a better chance now, too, after she won the Four Continents Championship over 2014 U.S. champion Gracie Gold and top Japanese skaters in February.

“Having the Four Continents title, I think, will help me a little bit as [far as] reputation,” Edmunds said Monday. “But really, it comes down to how I do. I think that skating two clean programs at Worlds is going to be in my best interests to really make a good impression on the judges. Having this [Four Continents] title could help me, I guess, in terms of they will already know what I’m capable of as I step onto the ice.”

In January, Edmunds said judges were being “a little more strict” with her given she was a newcomer to the senior stage in 2014. She made those comments in an opening statement on a media call, before any questions were asked.

She is part of a three-woman U.S. team heading to Worlds in Shanghai hoping to deny Russia the first women’s podium sweep since the U.S. in 1991 (Kristi Yamaguchi, Tonya Harding, Nancy Kerrigan).

Edmunds beat zero Russians at her two Grand Prix Series events this season. When she won Four Continents in Seoul, no Russians were in the field. Five U.S. women won Four Continents before her, and none won medals at that season’s World Championships.

“Mostly, I just don’t want to be on the podium if I don’t skate well [at Worlds],” she said. “I hope that people who don’t skate well, I’m hoping they’re not going to be on the podium, either. It should be who skates the best. And it shouldn’t be so political with who has what titles going into this.”

Edmunds said she’s dealt with skating’s off-ice politics “for years,” since she was a junior. She said somebody once tried to tell her to change her costume and her music she had been using that season just before the U.S. Championships.

“They want a little piece of me, and see if I can change anything, and then they can take the credit for it,” she said. “Not in a bad way, all people try to give their input in. Maybe they don’t like this about my music, my costume.

“I know that if I skate well, all those little things don’t matter.”

Edmunds did just that in Seoul, landing seven triple jumps in her free skate. She lagged behind the last two U.S. champions, Ashley Wagner and Gold, all season up to that point, even finishing fourth at the U.S. Championships in January.

Now, she’s in the mix with Wagner and Gold to win the first U.S. women’s medal at a World Championships since 2006.

“Nobody’s training to come and be 10th,” Edmunds said. “If I skate well, I hope to be rewarded.”

Edmunds, who works with a ballet teacher weekly, finished ninth at the Sochi Olympics and eighth at last year’s World Championships.

“Last season was a whole different ballgame,” she said. “I was relatively unknown. … This season, everything’s different, of course. Now, I am known.”

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USA Gymnastics closes Karolyi Ranch

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USA Gymnastics said it will no longer use the Karolyi Ranch in Texas as its training center, where athletes said Larry Nassar sexually abused gymnasts.

“USA Gymnastics has terminated its agreement with the Karolyi Ranch in Huntsville, Texas,” USA Gymnastics CEO and president Kerry Perry said in a press release Thursday. “It will no longer serve as the USA Gymnastics National Team Training Center.

“It has been my intent to terminate this agreement since I began as president and CEO in December. Our most important priority is our athletes, and their training environment must reflect this. We are committed to a culture that empowers and supports our athletes.

“We have cancelled next week’s training camp for the U.S. Women’s National Team. We are exploring alternative sites to host training activities and camps until a permanent location is determined. We thank all those in the gymnastics community assisting in these efforts.”

MORE: Nassar calls hearing ‘media circus’ as Olympic gymnasts testify

World champions Aly Raisman and Maggie Nichols said that Nassar sexually abused gymnasts at the ranch.

“When I was 15 I started to have back problems while at a National Team Camp at the Karolyi Ranch,” Nichols wrote in a victim impact statement read at one of Nassar’s sentencing hearings on Wednesday and published last week. “This is when the changes in his medical treatments occurred.

“I trusted what he was doing at first, but then he started touching me in places I really didn’t think he should. He didn’t have gloves on and he didn’t tell me what he was doing. There was no one else in the room and I accepted what he was doing because I was told by adults that he was the best doctor and he could help relieve my pain.

“He did this ‘treatment’ on me, on numerous occasions.”

Raisman, a three-time Olympic champion, urged USA Gymnastics to close the ranch in a Tuesday interview on ESPN.

“I hope USA Gymnastics listens because they haven’t listened to us so far,” she said. “I hope they listen, and I hope they don’t make any of the girls go back to the ranch. No one should have to go back there after, you know, so many of us were abused there.”

Simone Biles did not specifically name the Karolyi Ranch in her Monday statement, but Raisman said Tuesday that Biles was referring to that site.

“It is impossibly difficult to relive these experiences and it breaks my heart even more to think that as I work towards my dream of competing at Tokyo 2020, I will have to continually return to the same training facility where I was abused,” was posted on Biles’ social media.

Jamie Dantzscher, a 2000 Olympian, said Nassar was alone with her in her bed at the ranch.

“There was no one else sent with him,” she said on CBS last year. “The treatment was in the bed, in my bed that I slept on at the ranch.”

USA Gymnastics said in July 2016 that it reached an agreement with former national team coordinators Bela and Martha Karolyi to purchase the training facility the couple owned.

The national governing body backed out of the purchase in May “for a variety of reasons” but continued under its current lease agreement while exploring alternative locations for camps. It held national team camps there in September and November.

The Karolyis established the ranch in 1983 after defecting from Romania. It had been a national team training center since 2001.

Larry Nassar calls hearing ‘media circus’ as Olympic gymnasts testify

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LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A statement from McKayla Maroney read Thursday repeated that sexual assault by Larry Nassar “left scars” in her mind that may never fade as a judge heard a third day of testimony from victims.

Nassar could be sentenced Friday in Lansing. Since Tuesday, Judge Rosemarie Aquilina has been listening to dozens of young women who were molested after seeking his help for injuries.

Aquilina started the hearing Thursday by saying Nassar had written a letter fearing that his mental health wasn’t strong enough to sit and listen to a parade of victims. He called the hearing “a media circus.”

The judge dismissed it as “mumbo jumbo.”

“Spending four or five days listening to them is minor, considering the hours of pleasure you’ve had at their expense, ruining their lives,” Aquilina said.

Nassar, 54, faces a minimum sentence of 25 to 40 years in prison for molesting girls as a doctor for Michigan State University and at his home.

He also was a team doctor at USA Gymnastics for nearly two decades. He’s already been sentenced to 60 years in federal prison for child pornography crimes.

“Dr. Nassar was not a doctor,” Maroney said in a statement read by a prosecutor (Maroney’s statement was previously posted in the fall). “He left scars on my psyche that may never go away.”

USA Gymnastics in 2016 reached a financial settlement with Maroney that barred her from making disparaging remarks. But the organization this week said it would not seek any money for her “brave statements.”

A 2000 Olympian, Jamie Dantzscher, looked at Nassar and said, “How dare you ask any of us for forgiveness.”

“Your days of manipulation are over,” she said. “We have a voice. We have the power now.”

Nassar wasn’t the only target. Victims also criticized Michigan State and USA Gymnastics.

Michigan State President Lou Anna Simon attended part of the session Wednesday. The school is being sued by dozens of women, who say campus officials wrote off complaints about the popular doctor.

“Guess what? You’re a coward, too,” current student and former gymnast Lindsey Lemke said Thursday, referring to Simon.

The judge has been praising each speaker and criticizing Nassar.

It’s “about their control over other human beings and feeling like God and they can do anything,” Aquilina said of sex offenders.

On Jan. 31, Nassar will get another sentence for sexual assaults at a Lansing-area gymnastics club in a different county.