USA Gymnastics president: mediation with Larry Nassar survivors

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BOSTON (AP) — The legal portion of the Larry Nassar scandal at USA Gymnastics may soon be over.

USA Gymnastics President Kerry Perry said representatives for both the organization and athletes who were abused by Nassar — a former national team doctor who abused hundreds of women under the guise of medical treatment — met last week.

Perry called the mediation talks “not only productive but continuing to move us down the path of resolution.”

Perry made the remarks on Sunday in her first extended question-and-answer session with reporters since taking over last December.

Her public silence during the first 260 days of her tenure has drawn the ire of Nassar victims, including reigning Olympic champion Simone Biles, who last week it was time for Perry to speak up. Perry said she respected Biles’ opinion and called the kind of changes the organization is making in the wake of the scandal “scary.”

“I want her and all of our athletes to know we have their best interests at heart,” Perry said. “I would hope that they know that I and all of the leaderships have their best interests in mind.”

Perry says she spent her first eight months on the job trying to get a handle on the landscape within USA Gymnastics and allowed it’s difficult to communicate with survivors on an individual level due to the ongoing legal situation. Perry added the goal in the end is to have “our survivors standing side by side with our organization.”

Perry said USA Gymnastics has implemented 86 percent of the more than 70 recommended changes suggested by an independent review spearheaded by former federal prosecutor Deborah Daniels. The changes include making the method to reporting abuse easier and creating an electronic system that allows the reports to be tracked.

Though several high-profile sponsorship deals have lapsed as part of the Nassar fallout, Perry says she is “very confident” USA Gymnastics will continue to “grow” and said potential partners are “looking forward to the changes we’re making.”

USA Gymnastics is also in the process of finding a new training facility after the organization pulled out of its agreement to buy the Karolyi Ranch north of Houston, a decision it only made after the urging of Biles, who pointed out it was one of the places where Nassar abused victims. Perry said the new center will be a “symbolic fixture that represents a lot of our mission and culture.”

There’s no timetable on when any final decision will be made, fitting for an organization that finds itself caught between addressing the past and trying to move into the future.

The leadership talks about becoming more transparent, but until the legal process wraps up, Perry will continue to be limited by what she can and cannot say.

She did her best to stick to her talking points during the 22-minute session and failed to directly answer several questions, including why USA Gymnastics did not include Nassar survivors during any portion of the U.S. Championships this weekend at the new Boston Garden.

While Perry insists on staying behind the scenes, others associated with the organization want her to take a more prominent role going forward.

“Going into it, our expectation was (she was) going to be the face of USA Gymnastics and be a positive change and a positive force,” said 2005 World champion Chellsie Memmel, who was on the committee who selected Perry to take over for Steve Penny, who resigned under pressure in March 2017. “So to me, that’s been a little bit disappointing and I’d like to see more. Just keep going and see what happens.”

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GYM NATIONALS: Where Are The Final Five?

Scotty James wins fifth X Games snowboard halfpipe title

Scotty James
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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

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

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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.

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