The next U.S. Olympic city: Chicago?

Leave a comment

This post starts a series that will look at which U.S. cities would be perfect hosts for the Olympics.

Chicago was actually supposed to host the 1904 Olympics, but back then the World’s Fair was so powerful that organizers forced Olympic founder Pierre de Coubertin to move the Games to St. Louis to coincide with their event. The city was snubbed again 105 years later when it finished fourth in its bid to host the 2016 Games, despite being a heavy favorite. It  probably had more to do with the U.S. having hosted eight Olympics, as opposed to Latin America’s zero, but Chicago remains arguably the perfect city to host the Summer Games.

Infrastructure: Chicago has two airports, a decent-to-good public transit system, and enough hotels to house anyone and everyone interested in attending. Its seven major professional sports franchises (yes, we include the WNBA’s Chicago Sky) and numerous colleges mean there are enough established venues to host basketball, soccer, gymnastics, handball, and pretty much anything else.

Sports culture: Chicago is a city full of people who love sports, even if their most adored team recently passed the 100 year threshold of failure and its fans believe this has more to do with a goat than just being terrible at baseball. But, rain or shine, they support the Cubs, Bears, Bulls, Blackhawks, and White Sox, and would provide an incredible atmosphere for American and international Olympians.

Weather: While Chicago’s eight-month winters are brutal beyond words (and single-handedly the reason we don’t live there), the weather borders on unbeatable from June through September (second only to San Diego). Thankfully those are the exact months the Summer Olympics occur. You might have some humidity and a bad cold-front now and again, but that’s true anywhere.

Nightlife: Chicago has everything you’re looking for when it comes to going out on the town, with a nightlife concentrated to a couple great areas. You can find excellent restaurants, clubs, and bars downtown, or you can head to Wrigleyville, which is one of the best spots in the country for bar crawling and late night gorging. Also, the spinach deep dish at Gino’s East is the best pizza on the planet.

Biggest drawback: Where do you put Olympic Park? No seriously, look at a map of the city and tell us where you put the Park, the Athletes Village, the stadium… I’m very interested.

Intangibles: Aside from some of the best museums, restaurants, and entertainment available for those looking to explore the city beyond the Games — as well as a lakefront perfect for water sports — Chicago has one thing going for it that no other city does: Medinah Country Club. It’s a championship course that would have been a perfect place for golf to return to the Olympics for the first time since (wait for it) the 1904 St. Louis Games. Thanks a lot, Rio.

Ashley Wagner leads U.S. 1-2 at Skate America

Leave a comment

Ashley Wagner bolstered her international reputation again, winning Skate America on Saturday in her first top-level full competition since her world championships silver medal in April.

Wagner totaled 196.44 points over two programs in Hoffman Estates, Ill., holding off countrywoman Mariah Bell by 4.85 points. U.S. champion Gracie Gold was fifth. Full results are here.

“The short program was definitely one of my world-class programs,” Wagner said on NBC. “Long program, I left a little bit out on the table.”

Wagner, who led by 3.75 points after Friday’s short program, was flawed in her free skate, including singling the back end of a jump combination and under-rotating two more jumps.

Still it was enough to overtake Bell, who had the highest free skate score by 3.73 points but was sixth in the short program.

It marked the first U.S. women’s one-two in a Grand Prix event since 2012 Skate America (Wagner and Christina Gao).

“I’m starting to realize my own potential and believe in myself,” Bell, who shares a coach with Wagner, said on NBC. “I’m very excited for the future.”

Gold fell in both of her programs as she tries to bounce back from dropping from first to fourth at last season’s world championships. Gold had her lowest Grand Prix finish (excluding Grand Prix Final) since her debut at 2012 Skate Canada.

Wagner notched her fifth career Grand Prix series win (only Michelle Kwan and Sasha Cohen own more among U.S. women). Wagner joined Kwan as the only women to bag multiple Skate America and U.S. Championships titles.

The women Wagner must be compared with are Russian teens. Wagner ended a 10-year U.S. medal drought at worlds last year, but Russia still rules women’s skating.

None of the top Russians competed at Skate America. Wagner is slated to face 2015 World gold and bronze medalists Elizaveta Tuktamysheva and Yelena Radionova at her next event, Cup of China, in four weeks.

The reigning world champion, Yevgenia Medvedeva, makes her Grand Prix season debut at Skate Canada next week. Medvedeva and Wagner could go head-to-head at the Grand Prix Final in Marseille, France, in December.

Earlier Saturday, Japan’s Shoma Uno topped the men’s short program with 89.15 points, landing one of his two quadruple jump attempts.

Uno, 18, was followed by the last two U.S. champions, Adam Rippon (87.32, no quads) and Jason Brown (85.75, fall on single quad attempt).

The men’s free skate is Sunday at 12:30 p.m. ET (NBC and NBC Sports app).

MORE: 2016-17 figure skating season broadcast schedule

Simone Schaller, oldest living Olympian, dies at 104

FILE - In this July 15, 1936, file photo, Simone Schaller, lower right, waves with members of the United States women's Olympic track and field team as they depart for Europe on the SS Manhattan. Schaller, an American hurdler who competed at the 1932 and 1936 Summer Games and was believed to be the oldest living Olympian, died of natural causes Thursday, Oct. 20, 2016,  in the Arcadia, Calif., home she and her husband built when they married in the 1930s, her grandson Jeffrey Hardy said, Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016. She was 104. (AP Photo/File)
Leave a comment

ARCADIA, Calif. (AP) — Simone Schaller, an American hurdler who competed at the 1932 and 1936 Summer Games and was believed to be the oldest living Olympian, has died. She was 104.

Grandson Jeffrey Hardy said Saturday that Schaller died of natural causes Thursday in the home she and her husband built when they married in the 1930s.

Schaller tied Babe Didrikson Zaharias for the world record in the first round of the 80-meter hurdles at the 1932 Los Angeles Games. Schaller finished fourth in the final behind Didrikson, who set another record. According to Olympic historian David Wallechinsky, Schaller had taken up hurdling only three months earlier.

At the 1936 Berlin Olympics, Schaller made it to the semifinals.

She won the hurdles at the 1933 U.S. Championships. She was also an avid tennis player.

Schaller had three children, seven grandchildren, a dozen great-grandchildren and numerous great-great-grandchildren.

MORE: Australia gold medalist gets mole removed after heads-up from fan