Los Angeles bid for 2024 Olympics expands to Anaheim, Long Beach

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Three existing venues have been added to Los Angeles’ bid for the 2024 Olympics, including Long Beach as one of four main sports clusters.

LA2024 announced the additional venues Thursday, emphasizing its use of existing venues to avoid costly construction and cost overruns that have plagued Olympic host cities in recent years.

Long Beach’s arena, convention center, waterfront and pier would comprise one of four main sports clusters scattered around the Los Angeles area as opposed to having a single Olympic Park. The city joins the other clusters of downtown Los Angeles, the South Bay near Torrance and the San Fernando Valley.

The LA2024 bid committee said each cluster will be located within a secure perimeter where fans can walk between venues with food, music and celebration sites. The clusters are connected to the region’s public transit system.

The venue changes will be included in LA2024’s second bid file that is due to the International Olympic Committee on Oct. 7. The IOC will select the 2024 host city in September 2017. Los Angeles is competing with Paris, Rome and Budapest, Hungary.

Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi on Wednesday rejected her city’s bid, although her motion to withdraw the bid would have to be approved by Rome’s city assembly.

Handball would be held in Long Beach’s 13,500-seat arena, which recently underwent $10 million in upgrades, along with warm-up facilities at the connected convention center. BMX and water polo would be held in temporary facilities along the city’s waterfront, where open-water swimming and triathlon would be held. Sailing would be near the city’s Belmont Pier.

Long Beach’s venues are located 24 miles south of downtown Los Angeles. The athletes’ village would be on the UCLA campus on Los Angeles’ west side.

Honda Center in Anaheim would host indoor volleyball, bringing the Olympics to Orange County, with the 18,000-seat venue that is home to the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks located about 26 miles from Los Angeles. It would be about an hour drive from the athletes’ village.

In LA2024’s original plans, volleyball was to be played at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion. Instead, that 13,800-seat basketball arena would host wrestling and judo.

Historic Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles would host men’s and women’s golf. The course has hosted the U.S. Open, two PGA Championships and the annual PGA tournament since it opened in 1929.

Adding sites in Long Beach and Anaheim would bring the Olympics closer to the large populations in Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

LA2024 said UCLA’s tennis center and north athletic field have been added to the track and field stadium as part of the training center located at the athletes’ village in an effort to reduce additional travel for competitors.

“We’re very pleased to add more world-class existing venues to our fiscally responsible and innovative Games Plan for 2024,” LA2024 chairman Casey Wasserman said. “By relying on Southern California’s wealth of top sports, housing and transportation infrastructure, LA 2024 will minimize construction risk, operational struggles and costs, and can focus on providing athletes with the perfect stage to perform their best, without distraction.”

MORE: Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi rejects city’s 2024 Olympic bid

Japanese pair edges Americans for historic Grand Prix Final figure skating title

Riku Miura, Ryuichi Kihara
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Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara won the biggest title ever for a Japanese figure skating pair, taking the Grand Prix Final and consolidating their status as the world’s top active team.

Miura and Kihara, last season’s world silver medalists, barely outscored world champions Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier in Turin, Italy, in both Thursday’s short program and Friday’s free skate to win the six-pair event that is a preview of March’s worlds.

The Japanese totaled 214.58 points, distancing the Americans by a mere 1.3 points after Frazier erred on both of their side-by-side jumping passes in the free skate. Italians Sara Conti and Niccolo Macii took bronze.

“We had a very late start to our season than initially planned, so as we have been performing at each event, I see us getting stronger, improving things,” said Frazier, who with Knierim had their best short program and free skate scores of the autumn.

Knierim and Frazier didn’t decide to continue competing together this season until July.

“I feel a little personally disappointed tonight just for myself for my jumps,” Frazier continued. “I was a little all over the place and, normally, I can execute better, so I feel a little bad, but I’m very proud of us overall. We’ve done a great job of improving each competition and looking forward to the second half of the season where we can start tapping into our best skating.”

GRAND PRIX FINAL: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Miura and Kihara, who partnered in June 2019 and train in Ontario, both waited with trepidation for their final score to be posted, worried that each’s separate mistake on jumps might cost them the title. When they learned they won, both burst into tears.

“This was the first time in eight years that I made a mistake with a Salchow, so I thought we might not get a good score, and it would be my fault,” Kihara said.

Miura and Kihara entered the competition ranked No. 1 in the world by best scores this season ahead of Knierim and Frazier, who in March became the first U.S. pair to win a world title since 1979.

Last season, Miura and Kihara became the second Japanese pair to make a Grand Prix podium and to earn a world championships medal. Their ascension helped Japan win its first Olympic figure skating team event medal in February (a bronze that could be upgraded to gold pending the Kamila Valiyeva case).

In Grand Prix Final history, Japan had won 11 gold medals and 40 total medals, all in singles, before this breakthrough.

Knierim and Frazier, already the first U.S. pair to compete in the Grand Prix Final since 2015, became the first U.S. pair to win a Grand Prix Final medal. The Final has been held annually since 1996, though it was canceled the last two seasons due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Miura and Kihara and Knierim and Frazier ascended to the top of the sport while the top five teams from the Olympics from Russia and China have not competed internationally since the Winter Games.

All Russian skaters are ineligible for international competition due to the war in Ukraine. China’s pairs, including Olympic champions Sui Wenjing and Han Cong, didn’t enter last March’s worlds and did not compete in the fall Grand Prix Series.

Later Friday, world champion Kaori Sakamoto of Japan led the women’s short program with 75.86 points, 1.28 ahead of countrywoman Mai Mihara. American Isabeau Levito, the 15-year-old world junior champion, was fifth of six skaters in her Grand Prix Final debut.

Canadians Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier topped the rhythm dance with 85.93 points, edging Americans Madison Chock and Evan Bates by .44. Both couples are bidding for the biggest international title of their careers. None of the Olympic medalists competed internationally this fall.

The Grand Prix Final ends Saturday with the men’s and women’s free skates and free dance, all live on Peacock.

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A Winter Olympic medal still being decided, 10 months later

Fanny Smith, Daniela Maier
It's still unknown whether Fanny Smith (green) or Daniela Maier (blue) is the Olympic ski cross bronze medalist. (Getty)
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There is a second Winter Olympic medal result still in question, 10 months after the Games.

While the figure skating team event results are still unknown due to the Kamila Valiyeva case, the bronze medal in women’s ski cross is also in dispute.

Originally, Swiss Fanny Smith crossed the finish line in third place in the four-woman final at the Winter Games in February. Upon review by the International Ski Federation (FIS) jury, she was minutes later demoted to fourth place after making contact with German Daniela Maier near the end of the course. Maier, who originally was fourth, was upgraded to bronze.

“I tried to be OK with the fourth place. I was very disappointed, I have to say, [then] the jury was like this,” Maier said then. “I am really sorry for Fanny that it’s like this right now. … The jury decided like this, so accept it and be happy with the medal.”

Smith and the Swiss ski federation appealed. FIS reinstated Smith as the bronze medalist nine days after the race and six days after the Closing Ceremony. A FIS appeals commission met four times and reviewed video and written documentation for several hours before deciding that “the close proximity of the racers at that moment resulted in action that was neither intentional or avoidable.”

But that wasn’t the end. The case ended up reportedly going to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), whose rulings are usually accepted as final. The CAS process is ongoing, European media reported this week.

CAS has not responded to a request for comment. A FIS contact said Friday, “There is currently no update to provide in regards to the bronze medal in ski cross. Should there be any update, we will inform you.”

Smith said there should be news soon regarding the case, according to Blick.

Maier still has the bronze medal at her home and enjoys looking at it, according to German media, which also reported that the German ski federation expects Maier to win the case and keep the medal. Smith and Maier spoke extensively about it in recent training sessions and cleared things up. Maier said the best outcome would be bronze medals for both of them, according to the report.

For now, FIS lists Smith as the bronze medalist. The IOC lists Maier as the bronze medalist.

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