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Sam Mikulak headlines American Cup field

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Four-time U.S. all-around champion Sam Mikulak and Olympic all-around silver medalist Oleg Verniaiev of Ukraine lead the field for the American Cup, the biggest annual international gymnastics meet in the U.S.

This year’s American Cup will be March 4 in Newark, N.J.

The women’s field includes U.S. Olympic alternate Ragan Smith, another to-be-determined U.S. gymnast and four Rio Olympians from other countries.

None of the Final Five gymnasts are currently competing at the elite level, but none have announced retirements from gymnastics, either.

Mikulak, 24 and a two-time Olympian, was the last American man to win the American Cup in 2014. He’ll be joined by a second, to-be-determined American in Newark.

The international men’s field includes five Rio Olympians, led by Verniaiev, who finished .099 behind Japan’s Kohei Uchimura in the Olympic all-around and then won the parallel bars title.

Also at the American Cup will be two-time Japanese Olympian Ryohei Kato, who took team gold in Rio and also owns 2013 World all-around silver.

MORE: Kocian, Ross make history with NCAA gymnastics debuts

2017 American Cup competitors – Men
China: Sun Wei
Great Britain:  Sam Oldham
Germany:  Lukas Dauser
Japan:  Ryohei Kato
Netherlands:  Bart Deurloo
Switerzerland:  Eddy Yusof
Ukraine:  Oleg Verniaiev
USA:  Sam Mikulak
USA:  Wildcard, to be determined

2017 American Cup competitors — Women
Canada: Ellie Black
China:  Xie Yufen
France:  Melanie De Jesus dos Santos
Great Britain: Rebecca Tunney
Germany:  Kim Bui
Japan:  Asuka Teramoto
Netherlands:  Eythora Thorsdottir
USA:  Ragan Smith
USA: Wildcard, to be determined

*Correction: An earlier version of this post reported that Sam Mikulak won the 2013 American Cup. He won in 2014. An earlier version also said that Oleg Verniaiev was .99 behind in the Olympic all-around. He was .099 behind.

USOC expects to discuss possible Winter Olympic bid

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PARK CITY, Utah — USOC leaders are expected to discuss a possible Winter Olympic bid as early as next month.

The U.S. could bid for the 2026 or 2030 Winter Olympics. USOC CEO Scott Blackmun said it would be more difficult to bid for 2026 with the 2028 Summer Games set for Los Angeles.

Salt Lake City, Denver, Reno-Tahoe and other cities have expressed interest in bidding, Blackmun said Monday.

The USOC executive board meets Oct. 13. USOC chairman Larry Probst said they “need to talk about” a possible Winter Olympic bid and whether it could be for 2026 or 2030 or later down the line.

The USOC has focused on Summer Olympic bids since 2003. It was officially awarded the 2028 Olympics 12 days ago.

Blackmun added Monday that he hopes multiple U.S. cities could participate in the IOC’s invitational phase for possible bids over the next year. That phase is for cities to receive feedback before formally deciding to put forward a bid.

IOC members are expected to vote in 2019 to determine the 2026 Winter Olympic host.

Sion, Switzerland, is the only city to confirm bid plans.

Probst, an IOC member, also expects Innsbruck, Austria, to bid to become the first city to host the Winter Olympics three times. A public vote for a possible Innsbruck bid to move forward is scheduled for Oct. 15.

Calgary and Stockholm could also bid.

I think [IOC president] Thomas Bach has publicly stated that he would like to see the Winter Games return to a more traditional location,” Probst said. “So, to me, that’s code for Europe or North America. … We’ll have to monitor that, see what the situation looks like and then develop our strategy for whether we’re going to bid for the next Winter Games or longer than that.”

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MORE: Austria looks into multi-country 2026 Winter Olympic bid

USOC supports athletes expressing themselves after anthem protests

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PARK CITY, Utah — The U.S. Olympic Committee supports American athletes expressing themselves at winter sports events leading up to the PyeongChang Olympics.

Some MLB, NFL and WNBA players kneeled and remained in locker rooms during the national anthem at games over the weekend.

USOC CEO Scott Blackmun was asked Monday if the USOC would support American athletes peacefully protesting during the national anthem this fall and winter.

“I think the athletes that you see protesting are protesting because they love their country, not because they don’t,” Blackmun said at a pre-Winter Games media summit. “We fully support the right of our athletes and everybody else to express themselves. The Olympic Games themselves, there is a prohibition on all forms of demonstrations, political or otherwise. And that applies no matter what side of the issue you’re taking, no matter where you’re from. … But we certainly recognize the importance of athletes being able to express themselves.”

Blackmun mentioned Tommie Smith and John Carlos‘ raised-fist salute at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics. The USOC has honored Smith and Carlos. They visited the White House last year with the Rio Olympic team.

“That was a seminal moment not only for the Olympic Movement, but for the U.S. Olympic team,” Blackmun said of the 1968 podium gesture. “Our stance on this has been fairly clear. We certainly recognize the rights of the athletes to express themselves.”

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