Bryan Fletcher, Taylor Fletcher

U.S. Olympians keeping an eye on tonight’s Big Game

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Before representing their country in Sochi, lots of Team USA athletes will take time out from last-minute preparations (or get them out of the way beforehand) to watch tonight’s Super Bowl XLVIII between the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks.

As you’d figure considering that the U.S. Olympic Training Center is a little more than an hour south of Denver in Colorado Springs, Colorado, there’s a healthy group of Colorado Olympians on the 2014 U.S. Olympic Team – 19 in all.

Two of them are the Fletcher brothers, Bryan and Taylor (pictured), who will be competing in the Nordic combined event that gets started Feb. 12.

The Steamboat Springs natives are massive Broncos fans and both of them have packed Broncos gear for their trip to Sochi – and, naturally, both of them think Denver will be victorious.

“I will have my Champ Bailey jersey, old-school Broncos hat and Broncos beanie,” Taylor said to TeamUSA.org. “If things are going well, the jersey will be taken off and put on the couch and the baseball cap comes on! I don’t believe I am superstitious.”

Bryan said that he’ll have a “lucky Mile High Salute t-shirt” to wear as he watches the game while traveling in the early morning hours “because jet lag will probably kick in.”

As for the eight-person Washington Olympian contingent, short track skater and ‘Hawks fan J.R. Celski (a native of nearby Federal Way, Wash.) is likely more than ready to cheer his team on.

Celski received perhaps the biggest honor a Seattle football fan can have in 2010, when he was chosen to raise the 12th Man flag before a game at the noise factory that is CenturyLink Field.

Perhaps he’ll be watching the Super Bowl with eight-time Olympic medalist and NBC Olympics’ own Apolo Anton Ohno, who was born in Federal Way.

“We will be watching the game at the hotel or IBC (International Broadcast Center) or maybe in the mountains via streaming content on my iPad :-),” Ohno said in the same TeamUSA.org piece. “Excited for the big game! Have friends who play on the Broncos and obviously my team is the Seahawks.”

Former Bills, Packers wide receiver makes U.S. Olympic Team

Salt Lake City forms committee to weigh Olympic bid

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Salt Lake City has formed an exploratory committee to decide if the city will bid to host the Winter Olympics in either 2026 or 2030 — taking a key step toward trying to become a rare two-time host city.

The group made up of elected officials, business leaders and one key member of the organizing committee for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City said Monday that it plans to make a recommendation to state leaders by Feb. 1.

The announcement comes after the U.S. Olympic Committee board said Friday that it was moving forward with discussions about bringing the Winter Games to America for either 2026 or 2030.

Because Los Angeles was recently awarded the 2028 Summer Games, a bid for 2030 would make more sense, chairman Larry Probst said Friday.

The USOC has until next March to pick a city; those expressing interest include Salt Lake City, Denver and Reno, Nevada.

Innsbruck, Austria, said Sunday it wouldn’t bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics, taking one more city out of the running. The hosting rights are set to be awarded in July 2019.

The same country hasn’t hosted back-to-back Olympics since before World War II, though when the International Olympic Committee scrapped its traditional rules and awarded 2024 (Paris) and 2028 (LA) at the same time, it indicated it was certainly open to new ideas.

Since 2012, Salt Lake City has been letting Olympic officials know the city was ready and willing to host again with a plan based on renovating and upgrading venues that have been in use since the Games ended.

The city had previously estimated it could put on a Winter Olympics for about $2 billion, but the committee will come up with a new cost estimate, said Jeff Robbins, the president and CEO of the Utah Sports Commission.

Robbins is one of three co-chairs on the committee along with Utah Senate President Wayne Niederhauser and Fraser Bullock, a key player in Salt Lake City’s 2002 Olympics.

Robbins said he thinks the city has a great shot at winning a bid based on the relatively low cost and because it has demonstrated it knows how to maintain venues and keep them in use, putting the city in line with Agenda 2020, the blueprint that IOC President Thomas Bach created for future Olympics calling for less spending on new venues and infrastructure.

There’s an eight-lane interstate running from the Salt Lake airport, which was upgraded for the Olympics, to Park City, which is the home of U.S. Ski and Snowboard. Park City is the host for key U.S. training centers for freestyle skiing, speedskating and cross country skiing.

Overall, the area has hosted about 75 World Cup and world-championship events in winter sports since the Olympic cauldron was extinguished more than 15 years ago.

He said an expanded light rail train line grid around Salt Lake City and a $3 billion airport renovation already underway are two examples of how Salt Lake City is even better prepared now to host than in 2002.

But he and other organizers will also have to answer questions about a bidding scandal that marred the 2002 Games and resulted in several International Olympic Committee members losing their positions for taking bribes.

“You can’t control the past,” Robbins said. “The results of what happened I think would certainly speak volumes. While there was some challenges, we hosted arguably one of the best Olympics ever hosted.”

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Simone Biles announces new coach

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When Simone Biles begins her comeback in earnest next month, she’ll be training under a new coach — Laurent Landi — who coached one of her Olympic teammates, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Landi, a 39-year-old former French gymnast, guided Rio uneven bars silver medalist Madison Kocian at the Dallas-area gym WOGA, along with wife Cecile.

“[Landi] was in Dallas, which is not far away, and had recently left WOGA, and I had worked with alongside him and know how he is with athletes,” Biles said, according to the newspaper. “He does a good job not letting pressure get to the athletes. You can see some coaches get stressed but he doesn’t.”

Biles’ previous coach since she was 7, Aimee Boorman, left their Houston-area gym for a gymnastics job in Florida after the Rio Games.

Biles said last week she plans to return to full-time training Nov. 1 and return to competition next summer.

Kocian is now at UCLA and uncertain to return to elite gymnastics.

Two other Final Five members — Aly Raisman and Laurie Hernandez — have said they plan to return to training for a Tokyo 2020 run. But neither has announced a return to the gym like Biles.

The last member — 2012 Olympic all-around champion Gabby Douglas — has not said whether she will come back.

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