Gabby Douglas’ mom: Leslie Jones ‘came to the rescue’ in Rio

Getty Images
0 Comments

Gabby Douglas‘ mom said comedian Leslie Jones triggered the biggest display of kindness she and her daughter felt during a difficult time at the Rio Olympics.

“A lot of what I’ve seen and we’ve encountered [on social media] and experienced has been negativity,” Natalie Hawkins said on a Share Kindness panel with Lady Gaga‘s mom and the Today Show parenting team on Wednesday. “I know it wasn’t the whole world, but it sort of felt like it was. We couldn’t go on her time feed without seeing just the most hateful, the most disgusting things.

“Leslie Jones who kind of came to the rescue with the #LoveforGabby hashtag. … That was glorious, in fact. It went so far in making our family feel so much better. It was so hard to see so many people weighing in with so many hateful things and not one ounce of compassion.”

Hawkins said she made a mistake in telling her daughter to “suck it up” when the criticism was affecting her.

“If this is going on at your job, how well would you be sucking it up,” Douglas told her.

“Knowing me and my personality, I wouldn’t have sucked it up,” Hawkins said. “I would have marched down to HR and demand that something be done, and I would not have rested until it was.

“I actually learned a lesson, that you can’t sweep it under the rug.”

Hawkins said she was more proud of Douglas enduring tough competitions in her comeback than during her triumph at the 2012 Olympics.

“You were more of a champion to me in those moments than when you stood on the podium and got a gold medal in London,” Hawkins said.

Hawkins, a single mom, reflected on raising her four kids — Douglas and her three older siblings, sisters Arielle and Joyelle and brother Johnathan.

Douglas left her family in Virginia at age 14 in October 2010 to train with coach Liang Chow in West Des Moines, Iowa.

One story in particular about the London Olympic all-around champion learning about another mom who was struggling to provide for her children:

“When she found out about it, she immediately got online and got them some things,” Hawkins said. “And I think the thing that touched me the most is that she could have gotten those items for free, because she had a partnership, but she said it didn’t feel like a gift. She wanted to take from her own abundance now and share it with someone else.”

Douglas has not publicly said if or when she will return to gymnastics.

MORE: Laurie Hernandez undecided on competing in 2017

Scotty James wins fifth X Games snowboard halfpipe title

Scotty James
Getty
0 Comments

Scotty James doesn’t have Olympic gold, but he remains king of the X Games halfpipe.

James, the Australian snowboarder who took bronze and silver at the last two Olympics, earned his fifth Aspen gold, repeating as champ of the biggest annual contest under falling snow in the Colorado Rockies. Only the retired Shaun White has more X Games men’s snowboard halfpipe titles with eight.

Nobody on Friday night attempted a triple cork, which was first done in competition by Japan’s Ayumu Hirano last season en route to the Olympic title. Hirano placed sixth Friday.

“It was a tough night, pretty interesting conditions,” James said. “Had to adjust the game plan. The show goes on.”

In a format introduced three years ago, athletes were ranked on overall impression over the course of a three-run jam session for the entire field rather than scoring individual runs.

Earlier, Olympic gold medalist Zoi Sadowski-Synnott of New Zealand repeated as women’s snowboard slopestyle champion, passing Olympic bronze medalist Tess Coady of Australia on the final run of the competition. Sadowski-Synnott, the only snowboarder or skier to win Olympic, world and X Games slopestyle titles, capped her finale with back-to-back 900s.

The competition lacked 2014 and 2018 Olympic champion Jamie Anderson, who announced her pregnancy last month.

Canada’s Megan Oldham landed the first triple cork in women’s ski big air competition history to beat Olympic silver medalist Tess Ledeux of France, according to commentators. Oldham, a 21-year-old ex-gymnast, was fourth at the Olympics.

Eileen Gu, the Olympic champion from China, did not compete but is entered in halfpipe and slopestyle later this weekend.

ON HER TURF: U.S. freeskier Maggie Voisin on grief, loss, finding motivation

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Isabeau Levito wins U.S. figure skating title at age 15, followed by comeback stories

0 Comments

Isabeau Levito won her first U.S. figure skating title at age 15, cementing her status as the new leading American woman to open the new Olympic cycle.

Levito, the world junior champion, tallied 223.33 points between two strong programs in San Jose, California. She distanced two-time U.S. champion Bradie Tennell, who went 19 months between competitions due to foot and ankle injuries in 2021 and 2022 and scored 213.12.

Tennell was just two hundredths behind Levito after Thursday’s short but had multiple jumping errors in the free skate.

Levito followed her as last to go in the free and nailed the most pressure-packed performance of her young career, including the hardest jump combination done of the entire field. She didn’t receive a single negative mark from a judge for her 19 technical elements in her two programs.

Moments later, she was in tears backstage.

FIGURE SKATING NATIONALS: Full Scores | Broadcast Schedule

“I was just so proud of myself for staying so calm and staying so focused, doing exactly what I aimed to do,” Levito, who hasn’t finished off the podium in more than 20 events dating to November 2016, said on NBC. “I’m ready to start bouncing off the walls.”

Amber Glenn, 23, placed third and will likely become the oldest U.S. women’s singles skater to make her world championships debut in at least 45 years. Glenn botched her 11th attempt to join the list of U.S. women to land a clean triple Axel (tally according to Skatingscores.com) but still moved up from fourth after the short program, passing Starr Andrews.

Last year, Glenn entered nationals as the fourth-ranked U.S. woman and a hopeful for the three-woman Olympic team. She placed 14th in the short program, competing unknowingly with COVID-19, then tested positive and withdrew before the free skate.

In 2021, Glenn was the U.S. silver medalist, yet passed over for a spot on the two-woman world team in favor of the more experienced Karen Chen, who finished 35 hundredths behind Glenn at those nationals.

Levito, Tennell and Glenn are expected to make up the team for March’s world championships, decided by a committee.

Gracie Gold, a two-time U.S. champion who was fifth after the short program, popped a pair of planned triple Lutzes and dropped to eighth.

None of the three 2022 U.S. Olympians competed. Alysa Liu and Mariah Bell retired. Chen is a student at Cornell and might not return.

Nationals continue Saturday with the free dance and pairs’ free skate, live on NBC Sports and Peacock.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!