Madrid’s chances of hosting 2020 Olympics

Madrid 2020
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The International Olympic Committee will make the first of three major votes at its session in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Saturday.

Nearly 100 IOC members will choose the host city of the 2020 Olympics — Istanbul, Madrid or Tokyo — via secret ballot beginning at 2:45 p.m. Eastern Time with the winner scheduled to be announced between 4 and 4:30. For more on what happens Saturday, click here.

OlympicTalk will look at the chances each city has of winning the vote. Here is a rundown of Madrid:

Madrid hopes it has the experience, influence and star power to avoid its fate of four and eight years ago.

Spain hosted the Olympics once before, the praised Barcelona 1992 Summer Games. The seventh IOC president — Juan Antonio Samaranch — was Spanish, and his son is an IOC executive board member.

This is the Spanish capital’s third straight time as a finalist to host the Summer Olympics. It came in third behind London and Paris for 2012 and second to Rio de Janeiro in 2016. How badly does Spain want the Games? It’s talked about a Barcelona bid for the 2022 Winter Games.

“They know this stuff inside out,” said Robert Livingstone, the producer of GamesBids.com, covering Olympic host city bidding. “The IOC knows them well. They know the IOC well. They have a lot of influence in the IOC. It’s such a huge positive to have all that going for them.”

Madrid’s slogan is “Illuminate the Future,” and it plans to do so with the most cost-efficient bid with many existing venues (28 of the 35, including its iconic bullring for basketball, according to The Associated Press). The thrift angle is key for a nation in an economic crisis with more than 26 percent unemployment.

“Madrid’s vision focuses on social and economic development,” the IOC wrote in its evaluation commission report in April. “Taking advantage of its existing, modern infrastructure, Madrid 2020 seeks to demonstrate that the Olympic Games can be organised with low financial investment without compromising the delivery of a high quality Olympic experience.”

Istanbul’s chances of hosting 2020 Olympics

Madrid has received more star backing than Istanbul or Tokyo. Its greatest all-time basketball player (Pau Gasol), tennis player (Rafael Nadal) and cyclist (Miguel Indurain) lent support, as have members of its World Cup-winning soccer team, Xavi and Iker Casillas. Not to mention the world’s two greatest soccer players, who happen to play club soccer in La Liga — Argentina’s Lionel Messi (in a video here) and Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo.

“Spanish sport and the people of Madrid need the boost the Olympic Games would provide, and Madrid is ready to face this challenge,” Gasol, who is in Buenos Aires, told the AP.

The downsides? The potential loss of votes from Italian and French members, who might want to see a non-European bid win to better the chances of Rome and Paris for 2024. The poor economy as well, but Livingstone doesn’t see it as much of a problem.

“Several years down the road, economies can flip around,” Livingstone said. “They (the IOC) know that. And (Spain) is recovering a bit now. The fact that it’s weak right now is negligible.”

The AP described Madrid’s bid as “climbing.” Public support is at 91 percent, according to a Madrid bid committee poll.

“We are all in high spirits, we all have a good feeling about it, but we also realize that there is a vote and the result could go any way,” Spanish Olympic Committee president Alejandro Blanco said, according to Agence France-Presse. “You have to be optimistic, fight to the last and wait for the decision.”

GamesBids.com ranks Madrid third out of the three cities, but Livingstone said it has enough concrete votes to get through a first round of voting, if there are multiple rounds.

“If I had to pick the safest bid, that’s probably the one,” Livingstone said.

Squash’s chances of 2020, 2024 Olympic inclusion

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Key information for IOC session in Buenos Aires

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Hail Ilia Malinin’s first U.S. figure skating title for six-quad ambition, Jason Brown’s advice

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SAN JOSE, California – Ilia Malinin clearly will have mixed emotions when he remembers winning his first U.S. figure skating title.

That was apparent from his reaction after finishing Sunday’s free skate.

The 18-year-old with limitless potential and seemingly limitless confidence had been rattled by his worst free skate of the season.

He shook his head sadly. Then he shook it again.

“Of course, this wasn’t the skate I wanted, but there’s always ups and downs, and you just after get over it and move on,” Malinin said.

FIGURE SKATING NATIONALS: Full Results

He planned the hardest technical program anyone ever had attempted, with six quadruple jumps and two challenging combinations in the second half of the four-minute program. And he gamely kept trying to execute it, even after significant mistakes that would leave him second to surprising Andrew Torgashev in the free skate.

Malinin (287.74 total points) still finished comfortably ahead of the evergreen Jason Brown (277.31). Torgashev was third overall at 256.56.

Malinin skated with doggedness rather the dynamism that infused his brilliant short program Friday, by far his best short program of the season.

“I think I was just a little bit sluggish, and I just wasn’t prepared for what was about to happen,” he said.

Malinin fell on his opening jump, the quadruple Axel, then reeled off three other quads flawlessly. He popped two other planned quads into doubles, then turned his final jumping pass, planned as a sequence of two jumps, into an unprecedented triple Lutz-triple Axel-triple toe loop sequence. For context: only Malinin has done a triple Lutz-triple Axel sequence.

“I think its’s not that I was planning too much,” he said. “I think it was I wasn’t really prepared for this amount. And it was mostly because we were focusing on that short program.”

Brown, 28, who first competed at senior nationals 12 years ago, skated magnificently. If it weren’t for a fall on his ambitious final free skate jump, a triple flip coming out of a knee slide, Brown’s overall performance in both the short and free would have been as good as any he had done in the U.S. Championships.

With his longevity and insight, Brown, a two-time Olympian and seven-time national medalist (gold in 2015) was able to put what had befallen Malinin into accurate perspective and encourage him not to lose confidence over it.

Brown heard the press conference questions Malinin was getting over what went wrong, questions both legitimate and expected, and he wanted his younger teammate not to dwell on them.

“You did a triple Lutz-triple Axel-triple toe at the end of your program, and I did a knee slide and could barely stand up to do the flip,” Brown said to Malinin, sitting next to him at the dais.

“The way you keep pushing the sport is incredible. So don’t stop being you.”

Malinin, an unexpected second at last year’s nationals, came here under a spotlight brighter than any he had experienced, largely due to his history-making success earlier this season as the first to land a quad Axel in competition.

For all his disarming bravado, evidenced by choosing quadg0d as his social media name, Malinin is not immune to the pressure of a big event and his position as favorite.

“There is an amount of experience (necessary) that it takes time to get,” Brown said. “I’ve been through it all. I’ve had a lot of ups, I’ve had a lot of downs. As you (Malinin) said, it’s how you take this experience and learn from it and grow from it. That’s what you’re going to do.”

Both Malinin and Brown leave Monday to perform eight shows in three Swiss cities over 11 days with the Art on Ice tour. They are both expected to be on the U.S. team for the world championships this March in Japan.

Malinin leaves with the title and the satisfaction of not having minimized risk given his big lead after the short program.

“This was an opportunity for me to try this new layout,” Malinin said. “Of course, it didn’t go off the best. We’ll take advice from this and look forward to worlds.”

Philip Hersh, who has covered figure skating at the last 12 Winter Olympics, is a special contributor to NBCSports.com.

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Mark McMorris breaks Winter X Games medals record with slopestyle gold

Mark McMorris
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Canadian snowboarder Mark McMorris broke his tie with American Jamie Anderson for the most Winter X Games medals across all sites, earning his 22nd medal, a slopestyle gold, in Aspen, Colorado.

On the final run of Sunday’s contest, McMorris overtook Norway’s Marcus Kleveland with back-to-back 1620s on the last two jumps. McMorris’ last three Aspen slopestyle titles were all won on his final run (2019, 2022).

“It’s something I never thought would ever come to me as a kid from Saskatchewan,” McMorris, 29, said on the broadcast. “Everything’s just been a bonus since I became a pro snowboarder.”

In a format introduced three years ago, athletes were ranked on overall impression of their best run over the course of a jam session rather than scoring individual runs.

McMorris won his record-extending seventh X Games Aspen men’s slopestyle title, one day after finishing fourth in big air.

“It just keeps getting crazier because I keep getting older,” he said. “People just keep pushing the limits, pushing the limits. Last night was such a downer, almost bums me out, like, dude, do I still have it? … To have one of those miracle wins where you do it on the last run and someone makes you push yourself, those are the best feelings.”

McMorris won slopestyle bronze medals at each of the last three Olympics and reportedly said last February that he was planning to compete through the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Games.

Canadian Max Parrot, the 2022 Olympic slopestyle champion, is taking this season off from competition.

Anderson, a two-time Olympic snowboard slopestyle champion, is expecting her first child.

Later Sunday, U.S. Olympian Mac Forehand won men’s ski big air with a 2160 on his last run, according to commentators. It scored a perfect 50. Olympic gold medalist Birk Ruud of Norway followed with a triple cork 2160 of his own, according to commentators, and finished third.

Canadian skier Megan Oldham added slopestyle gold to her big air title from Friday, relegating Olympic champion Mathilde Gremaud of Switzerland to silver.

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