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The photographer who captured Miracle on Ice, Dream Team, raised-fist salute, Munich

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The Miracle on Ice. Larry, Magic and Michael. The raised-fist salute. The Munich hostage crisis.

Photographer Neil Leifer documented all of those Olympic moments and more, though the 73-year-old is best-known for his shots of Muhammad Ali.

Leifer, who is putting hundreds of photos from his personal collection up for auction this weekend, reflected on some of his most memorable Olympic images:

1984: Leifer with Cuban president Fidel Castro and boxer Teófilo Stevenson. (IMAGE HERE)

Leifer: In 1984 the Olympics were in Los Angeles. Time Magazine rolled the dice on a very expensive photo shoot, traveling around the world and shooting athletes like picture postcards (Carl Lewis in front of the Statue of Liberty, a Soviet weightlifter in front of Red Square, an Egyptian discus thrower in front of the Sphinx, the Indian field hockey team in front of the Taj Mahal, etc.).

No other people were in the pictures. Except this one for Stevenson.

I went to the Cubans and said that Fidel Castro was in fact the picture postcard of Cuba. He would be the only person other than the talent that would be in any of these pictures. They went back and forth with Time, and the Cubans eventually came and said that President Castro agreed to do the shoot.

When I got to Havana, maybe it was just for political reasons because it was President Castro, they brought half the Olympic team to the stadium when I was shooting. They didn’t want to offend the basketball team, the volleyball team. They brought in most of their best athletes.

So I photographed most of the group with Castro, but what I really was there to shoot was Stevenson. The highlight was, at the end of the session, I asked Castro for my picture with him, which I do with all my subjects, and he said yes. I have a few hundred pictures of me with various subjects, but this is the best one without question.

The Cubans later would boycott the 1984 Olympics, so the photo never ran.

1992: Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan (IMAGE HERE)

Leifer: For a Dream Team preview package for Newsweek. I had 20 minutes with the three of them for a pretty simple cover shoot. It was in San Diego. Michael Jordan had a tee time, so he told me when we came in that we have 20 minutes. He was absolutely wonderful for 20 minutes and, bingo, he was out the door at 21 minutes.

1992: Unified Team wrestler Aleksandr Karelin with a cooked turkey (IMAGE HERE)

Leifer: I was assigned to do something for the official program for the Barcelona Olympics. My recollection was I shot that in Pittsburgh, at a Russian family’s home.

1972: Munich Hostage Crisis (IMAGE HERE)

Leifer: I got woken up by a phone call from my assistant, whose husband was one of the producers for ABC for the Games. Something’s going on at the Olympic Village, and they thought we should get there.

Quite frankly, it sounded like nothing to me. I said, you know, I just can’t imagine it’s going to turn into anything serious. We’re working too hard, and I wasn’t there to photograph a break-in at the village. I never imagined it would become the story. Who would have imagined what happened.

I didn’t get out to the Olympic Village until all the press arrived. The village was closed, and I shot from outside. I shot pictures of the German police, who at one point were dressed in athletes’ warm-up clothes, so they looked like athletes, but they were carrying submachine guns.

I’m Jewish, and my mother lost her family in the Holocaust, so this was not a very good time. It ruined what had up to then been a wonderful Olympics. After that I just wanted to get the damn thing over with.

1980: Miracle on Ice (IMAGE HERE)

Leifer: I remember it wasn’t the final game. Maybe I’m too old about it, but I’ve never understood the big deal [with the Miracle on Ice]. Because, quite frankly, I remember a much more amateurish team beating the Russians in 1960. The Finnish team America had to beat in the [1980] final was no slouch, either. You can get very nationalistic, I was sure as hell rooting for America, and for me it was a great game and a wonderful moment in sport.

But I think what Eric Heiden did in Lake Placid, winning five gold medals, was much more impressive. I thought Eric Heiden was the story of the Games, Which is taking nothing away from what [the hockey team] did.

1976: Soviet weightlifter Vasily Alekseyev (IMAGE HERE)

Leifer: He was a wonderful character. There are people who like the camera, and he was one of them. You couldn’t take a bad picture of Alekseyev. I photographed him at home in Russia for Sports Illustrated for another piece in addition to the Games. He had a personality and an ego like Muhammad Ali.

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Tour de France route for 2018 unveiled

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PARIS (AP) — Defending champion Chris Froome can expect a stern challenge from Dutch rider Tom Dumoulin in next year’s Tour de France.

Froome is chasing a record-equaling fifth victory to move level with Belgian great Eddy Merckx, French riders Jacques Anquetil and Bernard Hinault, and Spanish great Miguel Indurain.

Froome and Dumoulin won the three Grand Tours last year, with Froome adding the Spanish Vuelta and Dumoulin winning the Giro d’Italia.

The 105th edition of the Tour features a hilly 31-kilometer (19-mile) time trial through the Basque country on the penultimate day.

Froome is a specialist, but Dumoulin is the reigning world time trial champion.

The 32-year-old Froome is still in his prime, while the 26-year-old Dumoulin is approaching his.

“A contest between Chris Froome and Tom Dumoulin, two riders with similar qualities, wouldn’t displease me. It would force one of the two to try something different to surprise the other,” Tour de France race director Christian Prudhomme said Tuesday. “We’re looking at a new generation that wants to entertain. I think that if Christopher Froome is up against Tom Dumoulin, they will want to do that. They will be more or less equal in the time trials. That’s something very exciting.”

The race starts on July 7 — a week later than usual because of the soccer World Cup in Russia — and opens with a flat 117-mile route for sprinters from Noirmoutier-en-l’ile to Fontenay-le-Comte in the Vendee region, on the Atlantic coast.

With the time trial returning after being omitted the last two years, Froome’s Team Sky will be confident of creating early time gaps on Stage 3 — 21.7-mile route starting and ending in Cholet in Western France.

But Sky faces tough competition, because Dumoulin’s Sunweb team is the reigning TTT world champion.

The Tour route, which goes clockwise, features 25 mountain climbs — ranging from the relatively difficult Category 2 to Category 1 and the daunting Hors Categorie (beyond classification).

Eleven are in the Alps, four in the Massif central region and 10 in the Pyrenees.

The difficult climbs start on Stage 10, the first of three straight days of grueling Alpine ascents.

But organizers have preceded that with a tricky ninth stage that could shake up the peloton.

It takes riders over 15 treacherous cobblestone sections: the highest number since the 1980 Tour, with nearly 13.6 miles altogether.

The Roubaix cobbles may perhaps trouble Froome, although Prudhomme thinks the British rider can handle anything.

“The leaders of the Tour have the ability to adapt. We’ve seen that Chris Froome has a range of abilities much wider than people said,” Prudhomme said. “He’s intelligent and hard-working. He keeps on winning in a different manner than in previous years.”

Even though Froome will be 33 on next year’s Tour, Prudhomme still thinks he can improve.

“I don’t think we’ve seen everything that Froome has to offer,” Prudhomme said. “He is strong in areas we didn’t think he was.”

The cobbles are followed by a rest day on July 16, and Froome had better make the most of it because the Alps start brutally the day after.

Stage 10 on July 17 has four difficult climbs on a 98.6-mile route from Annecy to Le Grand Bornand. They include a punchy ascent of Montee du plateau de Glieres, featuring for the first time.

“Six kilometers with an 11.2 percent gradient is monumental,” Prudhomme said.

The third day of Alpine climbing begins with Col de la Madeleine, then Croix de Fer (which translates as the ominous-sounding Iron Cross) and ends with an ascent of l’Alpe d’Huez: three of the Tour’s most well-known.

Dumoulin is not in Froome’s class as a climber, but is not so easy to drop. Whether he can hang in with Froome all the way to the Pyrenees, however, will prove crucial to his chances.

The three tough days of climbing in the Pyrenees starts with Stage 16 on July 24: a daunting 135-mile route from Carcassone to Bagneres-de-Luchon that follows the second rest day.

Stage 17 is short at 40 miles but cruel, with three consecutive nasty climbs, ending with an attack up Col de Portet.

Stage 18 is relatively flat but the next day’s third and final day of climbing on Stage 19 has four ascents and then ends with a potentially treacherous 12.4-mile descent that will test the concentration of tired riders.

Whoever is freshest after that will have a better chance of challenging Froome in the time trial.

The 21-stage race ends with its customary processional Sunday finish on the Champs-Elysees.

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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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