Aly Raisman
TODAY

Aly Raisman in new book: ‘Horrible memories’ with Larry Nassar

Leave a comment

Aly Raisman said her interactions with then-USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar were “horrible memories” in her autobiography to be published Tuesday.

In a “60 Minutes” interview segment published Friday, Raisman first said publicly that she was sexually abused by Nassar, who has been sued by more than 125 women alleging abuse. Nassar pled not guilty to the assault charges.

Nassar, who is in jail awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to child pornography charges, and his lawyers have declined comment.

Two other Olympians, 2000 Olympic bronze medalist Jamie Dantzscher and Raisman’s 2012 Olympic teammate McKayla Maroney, also said they were sexually abused by Nassar while with the U.S. national team.

Raisman, 23, said Nassar first treated her when she was 15, though she was at first in denial that it was sexual abuse.

“I always thought he was weird, but I just thought he was weird,” Raisman said on TODAY on Monday. “I want people to know that I really didn’t know what was happening to me. He was a doctor, and he told me that his treatment would help heal all of my injuries. I was so young. I had never really worked with another doctor or trainer before. Everyone said he was the best.”

In her book, “Fierce,” Raisman said she would not get into specifics of what she called Nassar’s abuse, writing “that information is private,” as first reported by the Boston Globe and confirmed by NBC Sports.

“We had been so manipulated. It had all been intentional,” Raisman wrote. “He had taken advantage of me … I wanted to throw up. Realizing you’ve been a victim of sexual abuse is a horrible, sickening feelings.”

Raisman wrote that when she was 15 and in Australia for a competition, a national team staff member noticed her wincing during practice. Raisman said she just wanted to sleep, but the staffer insisted that she see Nassar, calling it “a huge honor” to work with “the best there is.”

Raisman relented because she didn’t want to be labeled as uncooperative. Nassar gave her a massage in her hotel room while she wore leggings and with two other people in the room.

“There was something about the massage that made me uncomfortable, but the staff member’s words stuck in my head,” Raisman wrote.

Raisman wrote that during her years on the national team, “treatment sessions” with Nassar “always made me feel tense and uncomfortable.”

“It was different with Larry,” she wrote. “I would lie on the table, my hands involuntarily balling themselves into fists as his ungloved hands worked their way under my clothing.”

Raisman wrote that Nassar comforted female gymnasts by bringing them candy. He gave her gifts and said how well she performed in training sessions.

“Most of us thought the way he touched us was weird,” she wrote. “But he did it to so many of us that we assumed, blindly, that he must know something we didn’t.”

In July 2015, Raisman wrote that she met with an investigator, urged by then-USA Gymnastics president Steve Penny to agree to the interview. Raisman didn’t know the subject matter before the investigator arrived.

“I hope this isn’t about Larry Nassar,” Raisman wrote. “But I dismissed the thought. I trusted him, because he was nice to me, and because he had tons of awards. … The whispers couldn’t be true.”

Raisman was asked about Nassar but said she made excuses for him. She was laser focused on trying to make the Olympic team the following year.

“I was terrified that the media would find out, and bring it up at every turn, before I was ready to talk about it, before I had even begun to process it myself,” she wrote. “ … I was overwhelmed with emotion.”

After talking to her mom, Raisman called a USA Gymnastics official to talk about what she would have told the investigator if she was not in shock. She was later told that she “needed to stop speaking about Larry” due to a process in place that would protect her and others.

USA Gymnastics said in September 2016 that it relieved Nassar of his duties in summer 2015, “immediately after learning of athlete concerns.”

Raisman originally planned to keep this part of her story private. She changed her mind and included it in the book to help others.

“If a sexual predator is committing assault, the unfortunate reality is that it might not be their first time, and probably isn’t their last,” she wrote. “That makes it even more scary, realizing it can happen to anyone. I know that now, because it happened to me.”

USA Gymnastics posted a statement after the “60 Minutes” interview aired Sunday.

“We are appalled by the conduct of which Larry Nassar is accused, and we are very sorry that any athlete has been harmed during her or his gymnastics career,” it read. “Aly’s passion and concern for athlete safety is shared by USA Gymnastics. Our athletes are our priority, and we are committed to promoting an environment of empowerment that encourages speaking up, especially on difficult topics like abuse, as well the protection of athletes at all levels throughout our gymnastics community.

“USA Gymnastics regrets if Aly felt any constraints in sharing her full experiences with the independent investigator or at any time, as USA Gymnastics did seek Aly’s input in this matter,” USA Gymnastics said in another statement, according to TODAY.

Raisman said she does not believe USA Gymnastics is doing everything that it can.

“This is just the beginning. I’m just getting started,” Raisman said on TODAY. “I’m not going to stop until I get what I want, which is change.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Erin Hamlin nears end of historic U.S. luge career

AP
Leave a comment

Erin Hamlin is looking forward to normalcy. She is getting married next summer in her hometown. She is thinking about career moves. She is trying to figure out the rest of her life.

It is probably her last luge season. It is definitely her last Olympic season.

As such, it would be easy to fall into the trap of saying that winning a gold medal at PyeongChang in February would be the only thing that makes this season a success.

It’s important, sure, but Hamlin is entering her 13th year of World Cup racing with a much broader view and insisting that she’s going to enjoy whatever time she has left on her sled.

“I’m not going to hyperfocus myself on one result or bust,” Hamlin said. “Very likely, it’s going to be my last time in a lot of places, sliding on a lot of tracks. So I think more so, it’s going to be a lot of soaking it all in.”

That process starts Saturday, when the World Cup season opens in Igls, Austria.

Hamlin, who turns 31 on Sunday, is coming off the finest year of her career — she won a gold medal and two silvers at the world championships for the biggest haul ever by an American luger, got two World Cup wins and finished fourth in world rankings.

She might be going out, and there’s a chance she can go out on top.

“We’re working hard to convince her to stay,” longtime U.S. teammate Emily Sweeney said.

Sweeney knows that’s probably futile.

Sliders always tend to cycle out after an Olympics, no matter if it’s bobsled, skeleton or luge, and the Americans will see plenty of veterans take their last rides this winter.

A few U.S. sliders already retired this fall, in part because they weren’t going to have a shot at an Olympic berth.

For her part, Hamlin hasn’t officially said this is the end.

“There’s never really as concrete of a plan as you hope there would be, because you never know what can happen,” Hamlin said. “But at the moment, what I’m excited to do is see what other opportunities are there and what other adventures await.”

Hamlin has been in the world’s top 10 in each of the past 11 seasons — the second-longest current streak of any woman in luge, one year behind German legend Tatjana Huefner.

She won a World Cup each of the past three years, took the world title in sprint last winter and became the first U.S. Olympic singles luge medalist in 2014 with a bronze.

A lesson learned that season: Not expecting much can work wonders. That’s one of the reasons why PyeongChang isn’t taking up all the bandwidth in her brain.

“That’s the nature of winter sports in a Winter Olympic year, there being so much focus on the Games,” Hamlin said. “How I went into the last Olympics taught me a lot. I had no expectation of walking away from the last Olympics with a medal. At this point, goal No. 1 is to make the team and beyond that, I know if I slide as I’m capable of I can be pretty fast and I can do well.”

The schedule this season is hectic.

This weekend’s stop in Austria starts a run of five races in five weekends, with the next two in Germany followed by another in Calgary, Alberta, and then on home ice in Lake Placid, N.Y., on Dec. 15-16.

When that Lake Placid World Cup is over, the U.S. Olympic team will be named.

So when Hamlin needs an escape from all that, the wedding is there to bring her back to reality.

It will be at her parents’ home in July. It will, without question, be the social event of the season in Remsen, N.Y., where the one-time high school soccer player has annually left her tiny hometown brimming with pride.

“Pretty exciting,” Hamlin said. “It’s definitely adding a whole new aspect to an Olympic year, planning a wedding, but it’s cool. It gives me a good distraction when I need to think about something other than sliding.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: U.S. luge head coach steps down due to Parkinson’s

Kaetlyn Osmond leads Grand Prix France as co-favorite falls (video)

Leave a comment

Canadian Kaetlyn Osmond topped the Grand Prix France short program, moving closer to another Grand Prix Final berth on Friday.

The world silver medalist was flawed — performing a triple-double combination rather than a triple-triple and putting a hand down on another jump landing.

She goes into Saturday’s free skate with a 1.26-point lead over Russian Maria Sotskova. Japan’s Yuna Shiraiwa is third, while the lone American Polina Edmunds is ninth.

Co-favorite Alina Zagitova of Russia fell and dropped to fifth place in Grenoble.

In the short dance, France’s Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron improved on their personal best with 81.40 points, the third-highest all-time in an eight-year-old system.

The event continues later Friday with the pairs short and men’s short, all live on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA.

GP FRANCE: Full Results | TV Schedule

Osmond, 21, was a revelation last season, winning her first Grand Prix medals in four years, making her first Grand Prix Final and finishing second to dominant Russian Yevgenia Medvedeva at worlds.

She’s continued that this fall, winning her first two events in Canada to solidify Olympic medal favorite status. One Canadian woman has won an individual Olympic medal in the last 25 years — Joannie Rochette‘s emotional bronze in 2010.

Zagitova, the 15-year-old world junior champion, fell on her opening triple Lutz. Zagitova won her Grand Prix debut in China two weeks ago and ranks second to training partner Medvedeva in top scores this season.

Medvedeva, Zagitova and Sotskova are the favorites to claim Russia’s three Olympic women’s spots. Sotskova, 17, made the podium in all three of her Grand Prix starts but was a disappointing eighth at last season’s worlds.

Edmunds tallied 56.31 points Friday, stepping out of the landing of her opening triple-triple jump combination.

Still, she improved on her short program from her earlier event this season, where she scored 49.62 with errors on all of her jumps.

Edmunds, the youngest U.S. Olympic competitor across all sports in Sochi, went 20 months between competitions, missing the entire 2016-17 season due to a bone bruise in her right foot.

She is an underdog to make the three-woman U.S. team for PyeongChang that will be named after nationals in January.

Russian Elizaveta Tuktamysheva continued her string of underwhelming programs since her 2015 World title. She fell on a triple Axel attempt and singled a Lutz, plummeting to last place of 11 skaters.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Figure skating season broadcast schedule

Internationaux de France
Women’s Short Program
1. Kaetlyn Osmond (CAN) — 69.05
2. Maria Sotskova (RUS) — 67.79
3. Yuna Shiraiwa (JPN) — 66.05
9. Polina Edmunds (USA) — 56.31

Short Dance
1. Gabriella Papadakis/Guillaume Cizeron (FRA) — 81.40
2. Madison Chock/Evan Bates (USA) — 73.55
3. Alexandra Stepanova/Ivan Bukin (RUS) — 70.02
6. Elliana Pogrebinsky/Alex Benoit (USA) — 60.64