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Hope Solo, not retiring, apologized to Sweden captain after ‘cowards’ comment

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Hope Solo, who is not retiring, said a Sweden co-captain told her she didn’t need to apologize for her comments calling the Swedes “a bunch of cowards” following the U.S.’ quarterfinal loss at the Rio Olympics.

Solo, a 35-year-old suspended until February by U.S. Soccer, said she spoke to Swedish co-captain Lotta Schelin shortly after the Aug. 12 match that ended in penalty kicks. Solo and Schelin were once club teammates for a Swedish league team in 2004.

“I said to her, ‘You know, Lotta, I said something. I used the word “cowards” when talking about you guys, and I didn’t mean that. I’m so sorry,'” Solo said in a Swedish interview published Friday. “And she was like, ‘Oh, I know you, don’t worry about it. Don’t worry about it.’ And she’s like, ‘Look, the American team has been in the last five championship games in the Olympics. Five championships.’ And she’s like, ‘We never have.’ She’s like, ‘So, for us to beat a better-skilled team like Brazil and like America, we had to drop back defensively.’ And she knew it, but for the most part, we just hugged and we laughed and she accepted my apology. She didn’t even think I needed to apologize.”

Solo said she wasn’t enraged, emotional or angry when she made the “cowards” comments to journalists after the match.

“I’m not a loose cannon, like I think the media projects,” Solo said. “I didn’t mean to come across that the players were cowards or the coach was a coward. I meant the style of play, it wasn’t very Olympic-spirited.

“I think Lotta Schelin, No. 8, the captain for Sweden of course, is one of the best players in the world — one of the best attacking players in the world. So it was really difficult to watch her drop back defensively, and I saw her, most of the time, in the 18-yard box in her defense.

“And I wanted her to attack me, I wanted to play against Lotta. I wanted to try to stop her shots. I love the competitive nature between America and Sweden. It was a little disappointing to see them drop back to the 50-yard line to play defense.”

Solo added that she has not spoken with Swedish coach Pia Sundhage, the former U.S. women’s national team coach, since the match.

“She coaches the other team, so it’s kind of hard to speak to Pia, or have a relationship with Pia anymore,” Solo said.

Solo said her immediate future is up in the air, joking that she’s “jobless.” Her husband, former NFL tight end Jerramy Stevens, is retired after playing his last football game in 2010 at age 30.

“Retirement suits you,” Stevens recently told Solo. But Solo isn’t accepting that.

“I’ve had a lot of offers to play overseas, so maybe Sweden will welcome me back,” Solo joked.

VIDEO: Solo’s immediate reaction to six-month suspension

Gymnastics doctor’s lawyers want trial moved, cite media coverage

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LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Attorneys for a former Michigan State and USA Gymnastics doctor accused of molesting dozens of athletes are pushing to have his trial moved out of the Lansing area.

The Lansing State Journal reports that attorneys representing Larry Nassar filed a change-of-venue request because of what they called “inflammatory and sustained media coverage” that they say has made it difficult for Nassar to get a fair trial in the area.

The media attention grew more intense this week when 21-year-old 2012 Olympic gold medal gymnast McKayla Maroney wrote on Twitter that Nassar started assaulting her when she was 13.

Nassar has pleaded not guilty to nearly two dozen charges in Michigan. He has pleaded guilty to three child pornography charges in an unrelated case but has not been sentenced.

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MORE: Aly Raisman speaks out about USA Gymnastics scndal

Nathan Chen holds off Yuzuru Hanyu to win first Grand Prix

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U.S. champion Nathan Chen opened the Grand Prix season by beating Olympic gold-medal favorite Yuzuru Hanyu.

Chen, 18, held off Hanyu at Rostelecom Cup in Moscow, totaling 293.79 points to win by 3.02 over the Japanese megastar.

Russian Yevgenia Medvedeva easily won the women’s title despite a rare fall in her free skate. Medvedeva is undefeated since 2015 Rostelecom Cup.

Full scores are here.

Chen landed four quadruple jumps in a strong but imperfect free skate for his first Grand Prix title in his second senior international season.

“I got a little tired halfway through the program and started faltering a little bit on the second quad toe – that was a big mistake,” Chen said, according to the International Skating Union .”I can’t let things like that happen in the future. But this is my first Grand Prix win, and I’m very happy with that.”

Hanyu outscored Chen in the free skate, but the American benefited from his 5.69-point lead from Friday’s short program.

Hanyu, the reigning Olympic and world champion, has never won his opening Grand Prix start in eight tries.

He did three quadruple jumps in Saturday’s free skate rather than the planned five, but did not fall as he did in the short program.

Chen has now outscored Hanyu in three of their last four head-to-head events dating to February. Hanyu got the better of Chen at the most important event — winning the world championships, where the American was sixth.

Also Saturday, two-time world medalists Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani won the ice dance with 189.24 points, sweeping both the short and free programs.

The siblings and U.S. champions have now won four straight Grand Prix titles (not counting the Grand Prix Final).

They won by 4.5 points over Russians Yekaterina Bobrova and Dmitry Soloviyev.

The world’s top two couples were not in the field — Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir and France’s Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron.

Russia swept the pairs podium, led by world bronze medalists Yevgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov.

The top pairs teams from the rest of the world — including world champions Sui Wenjing and Han Cong — were not in the field.

The Rostelecom Cup women’s free skate is later Saturday.

The Grand Prix season continues next weekend with Skate Canada, headlined by three-time U.S. champion Ashley Wagner and three-time world champion Patrick Chan.

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Rostelecom Cup
Men
1. Nathan Chen (USA) — 293.79
2. Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN) — 290.77
3. Mikhail Kolyada (RUS) — 271.06
11. Grant Hochstein (USA) — 206.09

Women
1. Yevgenia Medvedeva (RUS) — 231.21
2. Carolina Kostner (ITA) — 215.98
3. Wakaba Higuchi (JPN) — 207.17
6. Mariah Bell (USA) — 188.56
9. Mirai Nagasu (USA) — 178.25

Ice Dance
1. Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani (USA) — 189.24
2. Yekaterina Bobrova/Dmitry Soloviyev (RUS) — 184.74
3. Alexandra Stepanova/Ivan Bukin (RUS) — 179.35
7. Rachel Parsons/Michael Parsons (USA) — 148.75

Pairs
1. Yevgenia Tarasova/Vladimir Morozov (RUS) — 224.25
2. Ksenia Stolbova/Fedor Klimov (RUS) — 204.43
3. Kristina Astakhova/Aleksey Rogonov (RUS) — 199.11
7. Marissa Castelli/Mervin Tran (USA) — 170.53