David Boudia
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What the U.S. Olympic diving team could look like in 2021

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The last full week of April was supposed to provide clarity for the Olympic diving competition. The FINA World Cup, the last Olympic qualifier, was scheduled to take place at the Olympic host city of Tokyo.

Instead, we’re left with unfinished business. The last Olympic quota spots have yet to be doled out. The U.S. Olympic Trials, originally set for June in Indianapolis, are postponed indefinitely. China’s bid to sweep all of the Olympic diving golds for the first time — denied until 2021.

“This year delay could look a lot better for a lot of the challengers than possibly some of the reigning Chinese,” NBC Olympics analyst Cynthia Potter said. “I just wonder about the veterans from China. [Some of them] have injuries, too. Some of them are worn out.

“I think there are a lot of those people returning [from China] that were maybe looking forward either to not diving the event that they were diving at the Olympics after this summer or retiring altogether.”

Now they all get an extra 12 months. For U.S. divers, it could be a boon once they are able to return to normal training.

It’s more time for David Boudia, the four-time Olympic medalist, to hone his transition from the platform to the springboard. More time for Steele Johnson, who missed nearly a year of competition with two foot surgeries, to decide whether to compete on the platform, springboard or both. More time for synchronized teams to get in sync.

Potter went through where things stand for U.S. Olympic spots in each of the four disciplines:

Men’s Springboard — U.S. qualified two Olympic spots
Boudia won the 2019 U.S. title and placed fifth at the world championships in his first full year after moving off the platform. It was the best finish for the U.S. men’s program at worlds.

“If David’s timing, his strength, his rhythm, all that and that he feels pretty good enough to do these more difficult dives, I don’t see that anybody can beat him if that all comes together,” Potter said.

Michael Hixon is the most experienced U.S. springboard diver on the top level, having placed 10th at the Rio Olympics while making the last three world championships teams. Right in the mix with Boudia and Hixon is Andrew Copabianco, a 20-year-old NCAA champion from Indiana who trains with Hixon. Wild cards: Briadam Herrera, a 1m springboard world team member known for his difficulty, and Johnson, should he enter.

Men’s Platform — U.S. qualified two Olympic spots
David Dinsmore appears the likeliest U.S. Olympic rookie in 2021. Since taking third at the 2016 Olympic Trials, Dinsmore has four wins and a runner-up in national-level meets. His sixth-place finish at the 2017 Worlds was the best individual result for a U.S. man at the meet.

I think international judges like his diving,” Potter said. “He doesn’t have a lot of real obvious flaws.”

Johnson, a Rio Olympian on the platform, returned from injury to place third and fourth at national championships last year. He has the versatility to enter all four events at trials, but he may prioritize the springboard given the medal potential in the synchro event with Boudia. Other hopefuls: Brandon Loschiavo, who outscored Dinsmore in the finals at 2019 Nationals, and Jordan Windle, who Potter said has been on fire since overcoming an injury.

Women’s Springboard — U.S. yet to qualify any Olympic spots
If the U.S. qualifies Olympic spots, look out for Kassidy Cook. Cook, after missing the Rio Olympic final by one spot, did not compete individually on the national level until last December’s Winter Nationals. She won it to earn a spot on the team for the World Cup, where she was to crucially compete to earn the U.S. an Olympic quota spot.

Potter also likes Cook’s synchro partner, Sarah Bacon, who last year became the first U.S. woman to earn an individual Olympic or world medal since 2005. Bacon, overcoming two shoulder surgeries, a concussion,  stress fractures in her back and mental struggles, took silver in the non-Olympic 1m springboard event at worlds.

Also worth noting: Brooke Schultz, who made the last two world championships teams and was third at 2019 Winter Nationals. And Krysta Palmer, a 27-year-old who didn’t start diving until she was 20.

Women’s Platform — U.S qualified two Olympic spots
Potter said the event is deeper domestically than it has been in a long time. All three Rio Olympians — Jessica ParrattoKatrina Young and Amy Cozad Magaña (synchro with Parratto in Rio)– are still competing.

The frontrunner has to be Delaney Schnell, who last year became the first U.S. woman to earn an individual world platform medal since 2005 (a bronze). There’s also Tarrin Gilliland, coming back from injury after competing in synchro at the 2017 World Championships at age 14. And Murphy Bromberg, the 2019 Winter Nationals champion who was third at the most recent Olympic and world championships trials.

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Figure skating Grand Prix Series will be held as ‘domestic’ competitions

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Figure skating’s Grand Prix Series will go ahead as scheduled this fall, with modifications due to the coronavirus pandemic, the International Skating Union decided Monday.

Each of the series’ six tops around the globe will be “a domestic run event,” limited to skaters of the event’s host country, who regularly train in the host country and from a respective geographical area. The number of disciplines and skaters at each event are to be worked out.

The Grand Prix Series, held annually since 1995, is a six-event fall season, qualifying the top six skaters and teams per discipline to December’s Grand Prix Final. The annual stops are in the U.S., Canada, China, France, Russia and Japan, leading up to the Final, which is held at a different site each year.

The Final is the second-biggest annual competition after the world championships, which are typically in late March. The Final is still scheduled for Beijing, though whether or when it can be held will be discussed.

The series begins in late October with Skate America, which debuted in 1979 and has been held every year since 1988 as the biggest annual international competition in the U.S. Skate America’s site is Las Vegas, just as it was in 2019.

Skaters typically compete twice on the Grand Prix Series (three times if they qualify for the Final), then at national championships in late December or January. The January 2021 U.S. Championships are scheduled for San Jose, Calif. The March 2021 World Championships are set for Stockholm.

In July, the ISU canceled the Junior Grand Prix Series for skaters mostly ages 13 to 18, including two-time U.S. champion Alysa Liu. Other early season senior international competitions scheduled for September were also canceled or postponed.

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Ex-Michigan State gymnastics coach sentenced in case tied to Larry Nassar

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LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A former Michigan State University head gymnastics coach was sentenced Tuesday to 90 days in jail for lying to police during an investigation into ex-Olympic and university doctor Larry Nassar.

Kathie Klages, 65, was found guilty by a jury in February of a felony and a misdemeanor for denying she knew of Nassar’s abuse prior to 2016 when survivors started to come forward publicly. She also was sentenced to 18 months of probation.

Klages testified at trial, and in a tearful statement Tuesday, that she did not remember being told about abuse. She said she had been seeing a therapist to try to remember the conversations and apologized to victims if they occurred.

“Even when I don’t express it to others, I struggle with what I’ve been accused of and what my role in this tragedy may have been,” she said in court.

Two women testified in November 2018 that in 1997 they told Klages that Nassar had sexually abused them and spoke Tuesday in court ahead of the sentencing. One of the women, Larissa Boyce, testified that Klages held up a piece of paper in front of the then-16-year-old and said if she filed a report there could be serious consequences for Boyce.

“I am standing here representing my 16-year-old self who was silenced and humiliated 23 years ago and unfortunately, all of the hundreds of girls that were abused after me,” Boyce said.

If the case had not involved Nassar, her lawyer has said, Klages would never have been found guilty. Nearly 200 letters were submitted to the judge on Klages’ behalf, her lawyer, Mary Chartier, said in a court filing ahead of the hearing. She noted that Klages sent her granddaughter, daughter and son to Nassar for health care.

“Mrs. Klages was one of thousands of people, including the police and the parents who were present in the room during treatments, who were fooled by a master manipulator with a singular design,” Chartier said.

It’s “shameful” to say that Klages could have prevented the scandal, Chartier said.

“Numerous people were told about the procedure — nurses, athletic trainers at other schools, psychologists, doctors and a high school counselor — and they did nothing,” Chartier said, quoting investigation reports. “Most notably, police and prosecutors were aware of the procedures, and they did nothing. To ignore this and claim that Mrs. Klages could have stopped the devastation wrought by Mr. Nassar is just plain false.”

Nassar was sentenced in 2018 to 40 to 175 years in prison for decades of sexual abuse to hundreds of athletes.

Klages is the second person other than Nassar to be convicted of charges related to his serial molestation of young women and girls under the guise of medical treatment. The misdemeanor carried up to a 2-year prison sentence, while the felony carried up to a 4-year prison sentence.

Nassar’s boss at Michigan State, ex-College of Osteopathic Medicine Dean William Strampel, was sentenced to jail for crimes including neglecting a duty to enforce protocols on Nassar after a patient complained about sexual contact in 2014.

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