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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

U.S. figure skating could have its best world team since 2006

Nathan Chen performs during the men's free skate competition at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
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KANSAS CITY — U.S. figure skating has a shot at medals in three of four disciplines at the world championships in Helsinki in two months, which hasn’t happened in 11 years.

Before this year, the U.S. men and U.S. women hadn’t boasted simultaneous medal contenders in a decade. Johnny Weir and Evan Lysacek spent the 2010 Olympic cycle in the world elite, while the U.S. women faded. After they stopped competing, Ashley Wagner and Gracie Gold moved into the women’s medal field while the U.S. searched for a new leading man.

He’s arrived. Nathan Chen confirmed he is one of the world’s best male skaters by landing a record seven quadruple jumps between two programs at Sprint Center this past week.

The 17-year-old already made the podium in an event that featured the world’s best, earning silver at the Grand Prix Final in December. Chen struggled with his short-program jumps at the Grand Prix Final and attempted one fewer quad overall yet still outscored everybody but Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu.

Of all of the U.S. medal hopes at worlds, Chen may face the stiffest trio of challengers. Not only is there Hanyu, but also two-time reigning world champion Javier Fernandez of Spain, plus Japan’s Shoma Uno, all of whom rank higher than Chen in best total scores in international competition this season.

MORE: Chen believes Olympic gold is possible after U.S. title

Wagner, who shares a coach with Chen, did not have her best nationals. She finished second to surprise winner Karen Chen (no relation to Nathan), who has yet to factor internationally.

But Wagner said before and after the U.S. Championships that her focus was to peak for the world championships. The goal for nationals was to make the world team, which required not winning but finishing in the top three. Mission accomplished.

The concern with Wagner is that she hasn’t produced a world medal-caliber result yet this season. Her best score from the fall ranks her sixth among women going to worlds. But Wagner has shown in the last few seasons that she can pull it together for major events. There’s her 2016 World Championships silver medal, plus her three straight Grand Prix Final medals from 2012-14.

At worlds, Wagner will have to deal with a Russian trio capable of sweeping the podium, three strong Japanese skaters, plus the revelation of this season, Canadian Kaetlyn Osmond.

VIDEO: Wagner passed Puffs in emotional press conference moment

The U.S.’ strongest discipline continues to be ice dance. Maia and Alex Shibutani and Madison Chock and Evan Bates finished second and third at the 2016 World Championships. They went one-two at the U.S. Championships this past week.

But two ice dance medals don’t appear to be in the cards in Helsinki. That’s because Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, who earned gold and silver at the last two Olympics, came back this season after a two-year break.

Virtue and Moir broke international scoring records in the fall, sweeping their four starts. The two-time reigning world champions, Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France, also beat the U.S. couples at the Grand Prix Final.

The Shibutani siblings and Chock and Bates have never finished ahead of Virtue and Moir in competition. Neither has bettered the French since the December 2014 Grand Prix Final, either.

But all it takes is one dance medal, plus Chen and Wagner at their best in Helsinki, and the U.S. could go into the Olympic year in its best place since 2006.

MORE: Gracie Gold comments on split from coach Frank Carroll

Laurie Hernandez discusses life after Rio, new book on TODAY (video)

Laurie Hernandez
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Laurie Hernandez‘s book, “I Got This: To Gold and Beyond,” is out Tuesday, and the Olympic champion gymnast stopped by TODAY on Monday to discuss its contents and life post-Rio.

An excerpt on Hernandez’s experience in Rio and the story of her floor-exercise wink to judges, is here.

On TODAY, Hernandez discussed another interesting anecdote from the book about tissues.

“Before Olympic Trials, we went out to eat, and I had a little breakdown because practice was really rough, and my routines weren’t coming the way I wanted them to,” she said. “This poor waitress kept bringing me over piles of tissues. … We were leaving, and my sister [Jelysa] told my dad, I’m going to save these tissues. I’m going to give them to her when she makes the team. I’m thinking to myself, you guys are crazy, this is not going to happen.”

Hernandez went on to finish second to Simone Biles at the Olympic Trials and make the five-woman Olympic team as the first U.S. female Olympian born in the 2000s.

The family celebrated the achievement, where Jelysa handed the tissues to Hernandez in a bag.

“Even when you fell, you couldn’t believe in yourself, we were there for you,” Jelysa told her.

“So it was a really defining moment,” Hernandez said.

Hernandez is away from gymnastics while promoting her book and touring with “Dancing with the Stars,” but she is expected to return to the sport at some point.

MORE: Hernandez explains 2017 goals: First date, driver’s license, Law & Order