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Three U.S. cities talking to IOC about Winter Olympic bid

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Denver, Reno-Tahoe and Salt Lake City officials are discussing potential Winter Olympic bids with the International Olympic Committee before the March 31 declaration deadline for 2026, USOC CEO Scott Blackmun said Friday.

USOC leaders repeated they hope to bid for either the 2026 or 2030 Winter Games (preferably 2030) and that those are the three interested cities.

“We have encouraged the three cities from the U.S. that are interested in potentially hosting — Reno-Tahoe, Salt Lake City and Denver — to be in a dialogue with the IOC, and that is happening,” Blackmun said, adding that the USOC is “leaning” toward bidding for 2030 rather than 2026. “So, we’re very excited about the prospects of hosting, but nothing tangible to report in the way of timing.”

The IOC has not ruled out accepting multiple bids from the same country, but the USOC has not discussed that option.

“That is not a thought at this point,” Blackmun said. “We have not discussed that, although the IOC has been pretty clear that it’s very open-minded about having multiple cities host. I think it’s a little bit different thing to have multiple cities from one country competing to host.”

The USOC would rather bid for 2030 than 2026 to avoid challenges with the 2028 Los Angeles Summer Games.

A USOC leader said in October that the U.S. wants to be part of the discussion if the IOC wants to award the 2026 and 2030 Olympics in one vote like it did for Paris 2024 and Los Angeles 2028. In that case, the USOC may be interested in entering the next round of bidding.

If not, then a wait for the 2030 bidding in another four years is the preferred option.

Traditionally, host cities are determined after a candidate process by an IOC members vote seven years before the Games.

However, the 2024 and 2028 Summer Games were awarded at the same time to Paris and Los Angeles in September.

The 2018 and 2022 Winter Games are both in East Asia. The last time the U.S. hosted the Winter Olympics was in 2002 in Salt Lake City.

“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.”

The 2026 Olympics have one confirmed bid so far from Sion, Switzerland, though its future may hinge on a public vote. Sapporo, Japan, and Calgary have also expressed interest.

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IOC: ‘More exciting initiatives’ for Korean unity in PyeongChang

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — Olympic organizers on Friday welcomed an agreement between North and South Korea to unite athletes at the PyeongChang Winter Games and promised that “much more exciting initiatives” promoting Korean unity will emerge this weekend.

“Watch this space,” International Olympic Committee presidential spokesman Mark Adams told The Associated Press in an interview, a day before a crucial meeting of Korean delegations at Olympics headquarters in Lausanne.

He declined to elaborate, saying the decisions would come Saturday.

Referring to a detailed peace-making agreement between the rival countries announced Thursday by South Korea’s Unification Ministry, including a joint team in the women’s hockey tournament, Adams said it was “great … but these are discussions” — meaning the IOC had not yet given the deal the final green light.

“I can tell you that there will also be some much more exciting initiatives coming through as well tomorrow,” he added.

Provided that the IOC finalizes the deal, it would mark the first time the two National Olympic Committees would be competing together in a single team.

Some have questioned the fine print of the agreement announced by the two Koreas, saying it gives the combined hockey squad a far larger roster than any other national team.

Asked how the IOC planned to maintain the integrity of the sport, Adams said: “People would say that these are exceptional circumstances, and we need exceptional measures.”

“This is about the Olympic spirit,” Adams added. “And the Olympic spirit is about nations competing, athletes competing, and we will do our best make sure that it sends a signal that sport can improve the world.”

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Julia Mancuso skis final race dressed as Wonder Woman (video)

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Julia Mancuso bid farewell like only she could — with a tiara, cape and Wonder Woman suit.

The most decorated female U.S. Olympic skier with four medals announced Friday morning that today’s World Cup downhill in Cortina d’Ampezzo would be the last race of her career.

More on Mancuso’s retirement, career and immediate future here.

She raced Friday as her nickname — “Super Jules” — and coasted to the bottom 18 seconds slower than winner Sofia Goggia.

Afterward, U.S. Ski Team members sprayed her with champagne and lifted her up in the finish corral.

Mancuso chose an appropriate venue for her last race.

She notched her first World Cup podium in Cortina in January 2006, then won the Olympic giant slalom in Sestriere, Italy, four weeks later.

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