USOC extends CEO’s contract through 2021 with option to 2024

Scott Blackmun
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — In the U.S. Olympic Committee’s version of a perfect world, CEO Scott Blackmun will help the Americans bring the curtain down on the Los Angeles Olympics in 2024.

The USOC board extended Blackmun’s contract by five years, through 2021, with an option to keep him through the 2024 Games.

Chairman Larry Probst said the extension, announced Friday, was recognition of the work Blackmun has done since he got the job in 2010, but clearly there’s another factor at play here: The USOC wants to show it is stable as it tries to help Los Angeles land the 2024 Olympics.

“It seemed like a no-brainer to me and the board,” Probst said. “We’re highly interested in him leading the organization forward for the next six years, at least.”

Blackmun will work under the same terms as his current contract, which pays him nearly $980,000 a year, including bonuses.

The announcement came on the same day that Mike Krzyzewski, the coach of Duke and the USA basketball team, was on hand to deliver a speech to the U.S. Olympic Assembly. He appreciated the message being sent.

“It’s really powerful,” Krzyzewski said. “When you keep changing, then people don’t know (the culture). The neighborhood he has to negotiate, it’s very difficult. The more knowledge and more activity you’ve had in it is a good thing.”

Blackmun came into the job five years ago, after a nine-month period of tumult at the USOC that included the forced resignation of Jim Scherr as CEO, the unpopular hiring of Stephanie Streeter to replace him and, most notably, the fourth-place humiliation of Chicago in the bidding for the 2016 Olympics.

All the upheaval, combined with the USOC’s poor international reputation, hurt Chicago’s cause. Under Blackmun and Probst, the USOC has established itself as a more reliable partner worldwide.

Los Angeles is in the running for the 2024 Games against Paris, Rome, Hamburg, Germany, and Budapest, Hungary. The vote is in 2017.

Blackmun’s contract runs through at least 2021, and if both sides agree, he would stay on for four years beyond that.

“He has offered terrific leadership to the organization and developed a high level or respect internationally,” Probst said.

Notes: Probst said LA 2024 chairman Casey Wasserman will be involved with the bid on a day-to-day basis but that Wasserman told the USOC board he also plans to hire a CEO. … The USOC is slimming down its operation of the training center in Chula Vista, California, hoping to redistribute some of the saved money to other sports and athletes. … Blackmun said the USOC has $15 million of the $20 million it is trying to raise to run its Safe Sport program and the nomination and governance boards were named earlier this month. … When Wasserman was 17, Probst hired him as an intern at EA Sports, where the executive-to-be was a game-tester. Probst: “If you’re 17 years old and get hired as a game tester and you get paid, you’re a pretty happy kid, and he did a great job.” … Probst said a defining moment for him came in 2012 when Thomas Bach, now the president of the International Olympic Committee, shook his hand after the USOC and IOC finally ironed out a revenue-sharing agreement that had been a sore spot for both sides for years. “He said something along the lines of, `Welcome to the Olympic movement,”‘ Probst said. “That was the highest hurdle we had to get over.”

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IOC gives more time to pick 2030 Olympic host, studies rotating Winter Games

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The 2030 Winter Olympic host, expected to be Salt Lake City or Sapporo, Japan, is no longer targeted to be decided before next fall, the IOC said in announcing wider discussions into the future of the Winter Games, including the possibility of rotating the Games within a pool of hosts.

The IOC Future Host Commission was granted more time to study factors, including climate change, that could impact which cities and regions host future Winter Olympics and Paralympics. The 2030 Winter Games host is not expected to be decided before or at an IOC session next September or October.

Hosts have traditionally been chosen by IOC members vote seven years before the Games, though recent reforms allow flexibility on the process and timeline. For example, the 2024 and 2028 Games were awarded to Paris and Los Angeles in a historic double award in 2017. The 2032 Summer Games were awarded to Brisbane last year without a traditional bid race.

Italy hosts the 2026 Winter Games in Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo.

There are three interested parties for the 2030 Winter Olympics, the IOC said Tuesday without naming them. Previously, Salt Lake City, Sapporo and Vancouver were confirmed as bids. Then in October, the British Columbia government said it would not support a Vancouver bid, a major setback, though organizers did not say that decision ended the bid. All three cities are attractive as past Winter Games hosts with existing venues.

U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee officials have said Salt Lake City is a likelier candidate for 2034 than 2030, but could step in for 2030 if asked.

The future host commission outlined proposals for future Winter Olympics, which included rotating hosts within a pool of cities or regions and a requirement that hosts have an average minimum temperature below freezing (32 degrees) for snow competition venues at the time of the Games over a 10-year period.

The IOC Executive Board gave the commission more time to study the proposals and other factors impacting winter sports.

The IOC board also discussed and will continue to explore a potential double awarding of the 2030 and 2034 Winter Olympic hosts.

Also Tuesday, the IOC board said that Afghanistan participation in the 2024 Olympics will depend on making progress in safe access to sports for women and young girls in the country.

On Monday, Human Rights Watch urged the IOC to suspend Afghanistan until women and girls can play sport in the country.

In a press release, the IOC board expressed “serious concern and strongly condemned the latest restrictions imposed by the Afghan authorities on women and young girls in Afghanistan, which prevent them from practicing sport in the country.” It urged Afghanistan authorities to “take immediate action at the highest level to reverse such restrictions and ensure safe access to sport for women and young girls.”

The IOC board also announced that North Korea’s National Olympic Committee will be reinstated when its suspension is up at the end of the year.

In September 2021, the IOC banned the North Korean NOC through the end of 2022, including banning a North Korean delegation from participating in the Beijing Winter Games, after it chose not to participate in the Tokyo Games.

North Korea, formally known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, was the only one of 206 National Olympic Committees to withdraw from Tokyo. The country made its choice in late March 2021, citing a desire “to protect our athletes from the global health crisis caused by the malicious virus infection.”

The IOC said in September 2021 that it “provided reassurances for the holding of safe Games and offered constructive proposals to find an appropriate and tailor-made solution until the very last minute (including the provision of vaccines), which were systematically rejected by the PRK NOC.”

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Olympic champion Justine Dufour-Lapointe leaves moguls for another skiing discipline

Justine Dufour-Lapointe
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Justine Dufour-Lapointe, the 2014 Olympic moguls champion, is leaving the event to compete in freeriding, a non-Olympic skiing discipline.

“After three Olympic cycles and 12 years on the World Cup circuit, I felt that I needed to find a new source of motivation and had to push my limits even more so I can reach my full potential as a skier,” the 28-year-old Montreal native said in a social media video, according to a translation from French. “Today, I am starting a new chapter in my career. … I want to perfect myself in another discipline. I want to connect with the mountain differently. Above all, I want to get out of my comfort zone in a way I’ve never done before.”

Dufour-Lapointe said she will compete on the Freeride World Tour, a series of judged competitions described as:

There‘s a start gate at the summit and a finish gate at the bottom. That’s it. Best run down wins. It truly is that simple. Think skiers and snowboarders choosing impossible-looking lines through cornices and cliff-faces and nasty couloirs. Think progressive: big jumps, mach-speed turns and full-on attack. Think entertaining.

Dufour-Lapointe has retired from moguls skiing, according to a Freeride World Tour press release, though she did not explicitly say that in social media posts Tuesday.

At the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, Dufour-Lapointe denied American Hannah Kearney‘s bid to become the first freestyle skier to repeat as Olympic champion. Older sister Chloé took silver in a Canadian one-two.

Dufour-Lapointe also won the world title in 2015, then Olympic silver in 2018 behind Frenchwoman Perrine Laffont.

Chloé announced her retirement in September. A third Dufour-Lapointe Olympic moguls skier, Maxime, retired in 2018.

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