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USOC narrows private list of 2024 Olympic bid cities

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The U.S. Olympic Committee trimmed its list of candidates for a potential 2024 Olympic bid on Tuesday but did not disclose which cities were chosen.

The USOC will probably make a public announcement in the next 10 days, after taking the next few days to communicate with the smaller group of cities individually.

“We’re not prepared to get into any specifics or details today, other than to say we had a great discussion, and we’re going to be moving forward with some really fantastic candidates,” USOC chairman Larry Probst said after a board of directors meeting in Boston, one of the cities that has expressed interest in bidding for 2024.

The other cities reported to be in the running were Dallas, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco and Washington. In May, Probst said the short list would probably be two or three cities.

The 2024 process, which began with the USOC sending letters to 35 mayors in February 2013, has been kept private to encourage participation from the cities, USOC CEO Scott Blackmun said.

“What we’re trying to do is create an opportunity to have open, meaningful conversations with these cities in a context where they don’t have to be public,” Blackmun said. “I don’t think any of the cities that we’re going to be talking to in the next six months have made unequivocal decisions that they want to stay in [2024 bidding].”

The U.S. has not hosted an Olympics since the 2002 Winter Games and is in the midst of its largest gap between hosting since the 28-year stretch between 1932 and 1960.

The U.S. has not committed to a bid for 2024 yet, and it said it will not decide until the outcome of Agenda 2020.

Agenda 2020, a blueprint introduced by IOC president Thomas Bach shortly after his election last year, includes the review of Olympic host city bidding procedures.

A finalized Agenda 2020 is expected to go up for IOC approval in December. The USOC has said it hopes to decide if it will bid, and, if it does, which city, by the end of this year.

“We clearly want to see the output from that [Agenda 2020] working group and what changes are adopted before we push the go button on formalizing a bid on 2024,” Probst said.

The next steps for a USOC bid team will be to perform what Blackmun called “deeper due diligence” on the short list of cities. The USOC wants to make sure each city can deliver Games essentials and big-ticket items such as an Olympic Stadium, Olympic Village and media centers.

The bid team will visit the short list of cities and provide an update to the board of directors at a September meeting.

Photos: 2014 World Cup stars who played in Olympics

Mark McMorris hospitalized after snowboarding accident

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Olympic bronze medalist Mark McMorris suffered several injuries including a fractured jaw, fractured left arm, ruptured spleen, stable pelvic fracture, rib fractures and a collapsed left lung during a backcountry snowboarding trip Saturday, according to Canada Snowboard.

McMorris underwent surgery to control bleeding from the spleen on Saturday. He underwent another surgery to repair the jaw and arm fractures Sunday and was resting in Vancouver General Hospital on Monday morning.

“While both the mandible and humerus fractures were complicated injuries, the surgeries went very well, and both fractures are now stabilized to heal in excellent position,” Canada Snowboard team physician Dr. Rodney J. French said, according to the press release. “It is too early to speculate on a timeline for Mark’s recovery.”

McMorris, 23, won bronze in the first Olympic snowboard slopestyle event in Sochi, competing 12 days after breaking a rib.

McMorris has been considered a threat for two gold medals in PyeongChang, with the addition of big air. He earned Winter X Games medals in both slopestyle and big air in 2015, 2016 and 2017, including double gold in 2015.

He has already come back in this Olympic cycle from breaking his right femur in an Air and Style big air run in Los Angeles on Feb. 21, 2016 (video here). His rehab has been extensively documented by Canadian media.

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MORE: McMorris, after horrible injury, ups risk for 2 golds in PyeongChang

Several women’s players spurn worlds inquiry from USA Hockey

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As sports organizations and notable hockey figures express support of the U.S. women’s team, several players say they rejected overtures from USA Hockey to serve as replacements for the upcoming world championships.

Two players told The Associated Press on Friday that USA Hockey reached out to them to gauge their interest for the worlds, which begin next week in Plymouth, Michigan.

Brittany Ott, a goaltender for the Boston Pride of the National Women’s Hockey League, and Annie Pankowski, a junior forward at the University of Wisconsin, said the email from USA Hockey was not an invitation but rather an inquiry about their availability.

“I responded to that email and I said I’m not willing,” Pankowski said.

A third player, goalie Lauren Dahm, told the AP on Saturday she also turned down an invitation. Dahm plays for the Canadian Women’s Hockey League Boston Blades.

The U.S. team has said it plans to boycott the worlds over a wage dispute with USA Hockey, which confirmed Thursday it would begin reaching out to potential replacement players. Several players posted messages on social media saying they support the national team and would decline or have declined any outreach from USA Hockey.

“From a personal standpoint I have never been invited to a USA Hockey series or camp or anything like that and I would honestly love to be invited to something like that,” Ott said by phone. “However at the current time, this is a fight that I believe in and I’m definitely going to stand up and help fight as much as I can.”

Many players posted a version of a Jerry Rice quote on Twitter on Friday: “Today I will do what others won’t so tomorrow I can do what others can’t. I said no to USAH & will not play in the 2017WC.” Not all players who tweeted that message were asked by USA Hockey if they could play.

On Saturday, NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith joined the chorus of support for the players, saying on Twitter the organization stands behind their pursuit of fairness and equality.

“These women understand inequality when they see it and are expressing their right to be treated fairly as athletes and workers,” Smith tweeted. “Of course, they have the NFLPA’s support in daring to withhold their services until a fair agreement is reached.”

Philadelphia Flyers coach Dave Hakstol posted his support on Twitter, calling players competitors and role models.

On Friday, the NHL Players’ Association and Major League Baseball players posted messages of support. The NHLPA posted on Twitter that it supports players and panned USA Hockey’s bid to stock the team with replacements, adding that the decision “would only serve to make relations, now and in the future, much worse.”

The MLBPA encouraged all female hockey players to stand united behind their national team colleagues.

Players are seeking a four-year contract that includes payments outside the six-month Olympic period. The sides met for 10-plus hours Monday, but players have called USA Hockey’s counterproposal “disappointing.”

USA Hockey said Thursday its priority was to have all the players selected for the national team on the ice March 31 when the tournament begins. But the organization added that it informed players’ representatives it would begin reaching out to potential replacements with the tournament coming up.

Star national team forward Hilary Knight said last week she wished USA Hockey luck putting together a suitable team of replacements to defend the gold medal because the player pool was united in the dispute. Ott and Pankowski said they had not heard from any players expressing a willingness to play in worlds.

“It’s a very unified front,” Ott said. “It’s a tight-knit community that we have in women’s hockey here. This is definitely a big opportunity for us to make a big change and have a big impact on our sport and have it grow. We’re all standing together.”

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