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Another rival to potential 2026 U.S. Winter Olympic bid emerges

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Sapporo is reportedly expected to bid for the 2026 Winter Games now that it has approval from the Japan Olympic Committee.

The Japan committee’s vice president said that Sapporo, which hosted the 1972 Winter Olympics, is expected to announce its bid by the end of March deadline, according to Kyodo News.

The 2026 Olympics have one confirmed bid so far from Sion, Switzerland, though its future may hinge on a public vote. IOC members are expected to vote to choose the 2026 host city in 2019.

The U.S. Olympic Committee wants to bid for the 2026 or 2030 Winter Games, preferably 2030. Salt Lake City, the last U.S. Winter Olympic host city in 2002, Denver and Reno-Tahoe are possible U.S. bid cities.

The next two Winter Olympics in 2018 and 2022 will be in East Asia in PyeongChang, South Korea, and Beijing.

Japan is also hosting the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo.

“I think [IOC president] Thomas Bach has publicly stated that he would like to see the Winter Games return to a more traditional location,” USOC chairman Larry Probst said in September. “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.”

Sapporo, which has been talked about as a potential 2026 bid city for more than three years, hosted the Asian Winter Games this year, as well as in 1986 and 1990.

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MORE: 100 PyeongChang Olympic storylines

The secret messages Lindsey Vonn wrote on her Olympic race suit

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SCHEDULE UPDATE: Vonn will will return for the final women’s downhill training run on Monday at 9 p.m. ET. LIVE STREAM

Look closely at Lindsey Vonn.

When NBC cameras zoom in on the two-time Olympic medalist, viewers will notice that she wrote a couple of messages on her uniform in permanent marker.

On the thumb of her right glove, Vonn has the word “believe” in Greek. It mirrors a tattoo she has on the inside of a finger.

“Signifying my last Olympics [in 2018] and just need to believe in myself,” Vonn said to NBC’s Nick Zaccardi.

On her helmet, Vonn has the initials “D.K.” and a heart. It is meant to honor her late grandfather, Don Kildow.

Kildow, who served in the Korean War from 1952-54, died on Nov. 1. Watch to learn more about Vonn’s special relationship with her grandparents:

Hard falls at Olympics, but no hard rules about concussions

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PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AP) — At the bottom of the Olympic aerials landing hill, where crashes are common and the term “slap back” is part of the everyday lingo, skiers spend almost as much time figuring out how to protect their heads as they do working on all those flips and spins.

“We learn how to fall,” U.S. jumper Jon Lillis said.

Elsewhere around the action-sports venue, that’s not so much the case.

Concussion dangers lurk everywhere — from the iced-over deck of the halfpipe, to the steeply pitched landings on the slopestyle course, to the careening twists and turns of the snowboard cross track, to the aerials course, where “slap back” is the term for when a skier’s head slaps backward against the snow. But at the Olympics, there are no hard-and-fast rules regarding who diagnoses head injuries, and no hard-and-fast protocol that athletes must clear to be allowed back on the slopes after a concussion.

“A bit concerning,” says neurologist Kevin Weber of the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center. “Because you worry that athletes in other sports that may not be as popular as football are getting, I wouldn’t say ignored, but the concussions they’re getting are under-scrutinized.”

Read the full story at NBCOlympics.com