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LA 2028 would support U.S. Winter Olympics, but it’s complicated

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PARK CITY, Utah (AP) — The venues are there. The city loves the Olympics. The memories of the last Winter Games it hosted are still fairly fresh and mostly positive.

This is the story of Los Angeles, which will host the Summer Games in 2028.

It’s also the story of Utah, which might get in the mix to host a Winter Olympics in 2026 or 2030.

The chairman of the LA bid was in Park City on Tuesday for the U.S. Olympic Committee media summit to discuss Los Angeles’ recent victory; many of the questions he fielded, though, involved whether a U.S. bid for an upcoming Winter Games might make sense, too.

“Twenty-six is complicated, obviously,” Casey Wasserman said. “Obviously, there are real challenges from a timing perspective, two years before us. But I think our approach has been, the Olympic Games, whether summer or winter, are good for American athletes. Our intent is to be a good partner to the USOC and American athletes.”

The USOC board will meet next month to discuss the possibility. 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.

Salt Lake City hosted the Winter Olympics in 2002, and what remains there and in Park City pretty much adheres to every concept of Agenda 2020, the blueprint that IOC President Thomas Bach set for future Olympics, which calls for less spending on new venues and infrastructure.

Through a legacy foundation, the area has maintained an Olympic speed skating oval and a Nordic skiing course, each of which have drawn new athletes to their respective sports and could be used as part of an upcoming bid. The Utah Olympic Park remains an active training ground for action sports, for both U.S. athletes and those from other countries who are invited to work out there.

Meanwhile, Utah likes the Olympics: NBC says Salt Lake City has ranked as either No. 1 or 2 among U.S. TV markets over the last three Winter Games.

Leaders of the movement to bring the games back to Utah have largely stayed quiet, not wanting to take the limelight from Los Angeles, which helped the U.S. put a stop to a long string of embarrassing losses on the Olympic bid front. But a handful have told The Associated Press that there is enthusiasm for a potential bid if the USOC will sign on.

“There’s fantastic momentum to have the Games come back. I think we could do it for a very affordable price compared to the rest of the world,” said Ted Morris, the executive director of U.S. Speedskating, which is based in the Salt Lake City area. “In my opinion, looking at ’26 is probably not realistic, but ’30 seems like an opportunity.”

The most complicating factor for either year would be a reworking of an agreement between LA and the USOC that transfers the USOC’s marketing rights to the city’s organizing committee over an eight-year span. Adding another American Olympics to that mix would force some major renegotiations.

There’s also the issue of the IOC bid process. Bach has redrawn the rules for 2026, creating friendlier deadlines for cities to commit to a bid. But he has not committed to a potential double award for 2026 and 2030, the way he did with 2024 and 2028.

Also, the USOC will have to consider Denver and Reno, Nevada, which also have expressed interest in hosting a Winter Games but would be behind the curve compared with Salt Lake City.

“Thomas Bach has publicly stated he’d like to see the Winter Games return to a more traditional location, and to me, that’s code for Europe or North America,” said USOC chairman Larry Probst, speaking to the fact that the hosts for 2014, 2018 and 2022 are Russia, South Korea and China. “We’ve got to look at that, then develop a strategy about whether we’re going to bid for the (2026) Winter Games or beyond that.”

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MORE: USOC names 3 cities interested in Winter Olympic bid

Olympic ski cross champion suffers serious knee injury

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Canadian Marielle Thompson, the reigning Olympic and World Cup ski cross champion, ruptured an ACL and MCL in a training crash in Switzerland.

Alpine Canada did not say when the accident happened or what Thompson’s chances are of returning to defend her Olympic title in PyeongChang.

Thompson flew from Switzerland to Vancouver for an MRI that confirmed the injury.

“I’ll be making a plan with my team moving forward and when the time is right getting back on the ski cross course stronger than ever,” Thompson said in a press release.

Thompson, 25, tore a meniscus in January 2015 and returned to competition 11 months later. She won seven of the 13 World Cup races last season.

Other Olympic medal contenders include Swede Sandra Näslund and Swiss Fanny Smith.

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Nathan Chen leads Yuzuru Hanyu at Grand Prix opener (video)

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U.S. champion Nathan Chen hopes to become comfortable in this spot this season — ahead of reigning Olympic and world champion Yuzuru Hanyu in the standings.

The 18-year-old Chen landed two quadruple jumps in his short program at the opening Grand Prix event in Moscow, taking a 5.69-point lead over Hanyu going into Saturday’s free skate.

Two-time world champion Yevgenia Medvedeva of Russia topped the women’s short program with 80.75 points (one tenth off her world record).

Full Rostelecom Cup results are here.

Chen’s tally — 100.54 points — is the second-highest short of his flourishing international career. It would have been higher if not for two of his three jumping passes receiving negative grades of execution for wonky landings.

The Japanese megastar Hanyu fell on his final jump, a triple toe loop, on Friday. No matter, Winnie the Pooh bears rained down on the ice from the adoring crowd, many of whom traveled from Japan.

Hanyu scored 94.85 points, one month after breaking his world record short program score with 112.72 points in a small event in Canada.

“Today I made some mistakes in my short program, but overall it didn’t feel bad,” Hanyu said, according to the International Skating Union.

Hanyu, though he is the current PyeongChang favorite, has never won his season-opening Grand Prix event in seven tries.

Chen has now outscored Hanyu, who is four years older, in four of their last eight head-to-head skates.

Hanyu was better in the two biggest programs at last season’s world championships. Chen placed sixth at worlds in April, perhaps gassed at the end of his first senior season while competing on duct-taped skates.

In the women’s standings, Medvedeva topped Olympic bronze medalist Carolina Kostner of Italy by 6.13 points.

American Mirai Nagasu landed a triple Axel that was called under rotated and fell on her other two jumping passes. She ended up ninth, two spots behind U.S. bronze medalist Mariah Bell.

In the short dance, two-time world medalists and U.S. champions Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani tallied 77.30 points.

The siblings lead by .97 over Russians Yekaterina Bobrova and Dmitry Soloviyev going into the free dance.

Russians are one-two in pairs. World bronze medalists Yevgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov lead Olympic silver medalists Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov by 5.49.

All of the free skates are Saturday, live on Olympic Channel. A full schedule is here.

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Rostelecom Cup
Men’s Short
1. Nathan Chen (USA) — 100.54
2. Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN) — 94.85
3. Dmitriy Aliyev (RUS) — 88.77
11. Grant Hochstein (USA) — 67.56

Women’s Short
1. Yevgenia Medvedeva (RUS) — 80.75
2. Carolina Kostner (ITA) — 74.64
3. Wakaba Higuchi (JPN) — 69.60
7. Mariah Bell (USA) — 63.85
9. Mirai Nagasu (USA) — 56.15

Short Dance
1. Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani (USA) — 77.30
2. Yekaterina Bobrova/Dmitry Soloviyev (RUS) — 76.33
3. Alexandra Stepanova/Ivan Bukin (RUS) — 71.32
7. Rachel Parsons/Michael Parsons (USA) — 59.41

Pairs Short
1. Yevgenia Tarasova/Vladimir Morozov (RUS) — 76.88
2. Ksenia Stolbova/Fedor Klimov (RUS) — 71.39
3. Valentina Marchei/Ondřej Hotárek (ITA) — 68.48
7. Marissa Castelli/Mervin Tran (USA) — 54.37