Mikaela Shiffrin

Mikaela Shiffrin takes third straight World Cup slalom season title (video)

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Mikaela Shiffrin became the first skier in 20 years to win three straight World Cup slalom season titles, adding another crystal globe to her trophy case and winning the World Cup Finals in Meribel, France, on Saturday.

Shiffrin, who only needed to finish in the top 15 to take the season title, jumped from second place after the first of two runs to beat Sweden’s Frida Hansdotter by .05. It was Shiffrin’s 15th career World Cup victory.

“I had to pull a lot out of myself that second run in order to even beat her by a little bit,” Shiffrin, who was .07 behind after the first run, said in a finish-area interview. “I definitely didn’t want to throw everything away, but I also wanted to put something on the limit.”

Slovenia’s Tina Maze was fourth Saturday, moving 18 points ahead of Austrian Anna Fenninger for the World Cup overall lead. If Maze and Fenninger both are in the top three in Sunday’s final giant slalom, the higher finisher will win the overall title.

The last woman before Shiffrin to take three straight slalom season titles was Swiss Vreni Schneider, who bagged four straight from 1992 through 1995.

Shiffrin, 20, has won every Olympic, World Championships and World Cup Finals slalom the last three seasons — going six for six.

“I hope I’m always considered a rising star,” Shiffrin told media in Meribel. “This is a really special time for me to be always climbing and progressing, getting better. … I don’t necessarily ever want to be considered the star. I like the rising star.”

She captured this season’s title by 110 points, as opposed to 150 last season, but she recovered from the worst slump of her young career early in the season by changing equipment.

Shiffrin could be the best in the discipline for quite some time, given the six women closest to her in the standings are all at least eight years older.

Shiffrin also hopes to continue her progress in the giant slalom in her season finale Sunday at the World Cup Finals.

Shiffrin, who improved from 49th to 19th to seventh in the World Cup giant slalom standings the previous three season, stands third this year. She could finish as high as second with a strong result Sunday, with Lindsey Vonn also in the race.

“Part of what I need to learn in GS is how to take some risk and how to really put it on the line,” Shiffrin said. “A lot of the best GS skiers are also speed skiers, and in order to ski speed fast, you have to not second-guess yourself. Just go, all-out, all the time. I don’t know if I have that skill yet.”

Watch Lindsey Vonn tie legend’s record for crystal globes

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.