AP

LA 2028 would support U.S. Winter Olympics, but it’s complicated

1 Comment

PARK CITY, Utah (AP) — The venues are there. The city loves the Olympics. The memories of the last Winter Games it hosted are still fairly fresh and mostly positive.

This is the story of Los Angeles, which will host the Summer Games in 2028.

It’s also the story of Utah, which might get in the mix to host a Winter Olympics in 2026 or 2030.

The chairman of the LA bid was in Park City on Tuesday for the U.S. Olympic Committee media summit to discuss Los Angeles’ recent victory; many of the questions he fielded, though, involved whether a U.S. bid for an upcoming Winter Games might make sense, too.

“Twenty-six is complicated, obviously,” Casey Wasserman said. “Obviously, there are real challenges from a timing perspective, two years before us. But I think our approach has been, the Olympic Games, whether summer or winter, are good for American athletes. Our intent is to be a good partner to the USOC and American athletes.”

The USOC board will meet next month to discuss the possibility. The same country hasn’t hosted back-to-back Olympics since before World War II, though when the International Olympic Committee scrapped its traditional rules and awarded 2024 (Paris) and 2028 (LA) at the same time, it indicated it was certainly open to new ideas.

Salt Lake City hosted the Winter Olympics in 2002, and what remains there and in Park City pretty much adheres to every concept of Agenda 2020, the blueprint that IOC President Thomas Bach set for future Olympics, which calls for less spending on new venues and infrastructure.

Through a legacy foundation, the area has maintained an Olympic speed skating oval and a Nordic skiing course, each of which have drawn new athletes to their respective sports and could be used as part of an upcoming bid. The Utah Olympic Park remains an active training ground for action sports, for both U.S. athletes and those from other countries who are invited to work out there.

Meanwhile, Utah likes the Olympics: NBC says Salt Lake City has ranked as either No. 1 or 2 among U.S. TV markets over the last three Winter Games.

Leaders of the movement to bring the games back to Utah have largely stayed quiet, not wanting to take the limelight from Los Angeles, which helped the U.S. put a stop to a long string of embarrassing losses on the Olympic bid front. But a handful have told The Associated Press that there is enthusiasm for a potential bid if the USOC will sign on.

“There’s fantastic momentum to have the Games come back. I think we could do it for a very affordable price compared to the rest of the world,” said Ted Morris, the executive director of U.S. Speedskating, which is based in the Salt Lake City area. “In my opinion, looking at ’26 is probably not realistic, but ’30 seems like an opportunity.”

The most complicating factor for either year would be a reworking of an agreement between LA and the USOC that transfers the USOC’s marketing rights to the city’s organizing committee over an eight-year span. Adding another American Olympics to that mix would force some major renegotiations.

There’s also the issue of the IOC bid process. Bach has redrawn the rules for 2026, creating friendlier deadlines for cities to commit to a bid. But he has not committed to a potential double award for 2026 and 2030, the way he did with 2024 and 2028.

Also, the USOC will have to consider Denver and Reno, Nevada, which also have expressed interest in hosting a Winter Games but would be behind the curve compared with Salt Lake City.

“Thomas Bach has publicly stated he’d like to see the Winter Games return to a more traditional location, and to me, that’s code for Europe or North America,” said USOC chairman Larry Probst, speaking to the fact that the hosts for 2014, 2018 and 2022 are Russia, South Korea and China. “We’ve got to look at that, then develop a strategy about whether we’re going to bid for the (2026) Winter Games or beyond that.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: USOC names 3 cities interested in Winter Olympic bid

Shelby Houlihan shatters American 5000m record

Shelby Houlihan
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Shelby Houlihan chopped 10.52 seconds off her own American 5000m record, clocking 14:23.92 at a Bowerman Track Club intrasquad meet in Portland, Ore., on Friday night.

Houlihan, who was 11th in the Rio Olympic 5000m, has in this Olympic cycle improved to become one of the greatest female distance runners in U.S. history.

She first broke Shannon Rowbury‘s American record in the 5000m by 4.47 seconds in 2018. In 2019, she broke Rowbury’s American record in the 1500m by 1.3 seconds in finishing fourth at the world championships in 3:54.99.

On Friday, Houlihan and second-place Karissa Schweizer both went under the American record. Schweizer, 24 and three years younger than Houlihan, clocked 14:26.34, staying with Houlihan until the winner’s 61-second final lap.

“I knew Karissa was going to try to come up on me and take the lead. She does that every time,” Houlihan told USATF.tv. “I had decided I was not going to let that happen.”

Houlihan improved from 41st to 12th on the world’s all-time 5000m list, 12.77 seconds behind Ethiopian Tirunesh Dibaba‘s world record.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Usain Bolt says one man can bring him out of retirement

Can T.J. Oshie, other established Olympic hockey stars hold on for 2022?

T.J. Oshie
Getty Images
Leave a comment

T.J. Oshie will be 35 years old during the next Winter Olympics. Jonathan Quick will be 36. Now that the NHL is one key step closer to returning to the Winter Games, the question surfaces: which 2014 Olympians will have a difficult time returning to rosters in 2022?

Oshie was the last of the 14 forwards chosen for the U.S. Olympic team for Sochi, beating out Bobby Ryan and Brandon Saad, in part for his shootout prowess.

In group play against Russia, Oshie was memorably tapped by U.S. head coach Dan Bylsma six times in a shootout, including all five in the sudden-death rounds. Oshie beat Sergei Bobrovsky four times, including the game winner.

“After I went out for my third attempt, I figured I was going to keep going,” Oshie said, according to USA Hockey. “Each time I would look up to see what [Bylsma] had to say, and he would just give me a nod every time. I kind of started laughing toward shot five and six because it was getting kind of ridiculous.”

Oshie became known as “T.J. Sochi” on social media. President Barack Obama congratulated him on Twitter. The U.S. eventually lost to Canada in the semifinals and Finland in the bronze-medal game.

When the NHL chose not to send its players to the PyeongChang Winter Games, it may have spelled the end of Oshie’s Olympic career.

Consider that the oldest forward on the 2014 U.S. Olympic team was 29, six years younger than Oshie will be come 2022. A recent Olympic roster prediction from The Hockey Writers put Oshie in the “Just Missed Out” list.

NBC Sports NHL analyst Pierre McGuire has Oshie among the finalists for the last forward spots in his early U.S. roster prediction.

“I wouldn’t discount T.J. Oshie because shootout is still part of it,” McGuire said. “He still has his shootout moves, even though he’s not getting any younger.”

Quick, the unused third goalie in 2010, played 305 out of 365 minutes in net for the U.S. in Sochi. He was coming off a Stanley Cup in 2012 and en route to another one in 2014.

Since, he was sidelined by a knee injury that required surgery. He remains the Los Angeles Kings’ No. 1 goalie, which almost automatically puts an American in the Olympic roster discussion these days.

“Somebody like Jonathan definitely merits consideration just because of his achievement level over time, but I think he’d be the first person to tell you injuries have definitely affected him,” McGuire said of Quick, looking to become the second-oldest U.S. goalie to play in the Olympics after Tom Barrasso in 2002. “It’s not going to be easy for him.”

The U.S. could bypass Quick for three Olympic rookies in 2022. Connor Hellebuyck, John Gibson and Ben Bishop have superior save percentages and goals-against averages and more games played than Quick since the start of the 2018-19 season.

A wild card is Spencer Knight, the 19-year-old No. 1 from the world junior championships who last year became the highest-drafted goalie since 2010 (No. 13 to the Florida Panthers). Knight would break defenseman Bryan Berard‘s record as the youngest U.S. Olympic hockey player in the NHL era.

The Canadian roster has traditionally been deeper than the U.S. The talent is overwhelming at center, led by Sidney CrosbyConnor McDavidPatrice Bergeron and Nathan MacKinnon. The Canadians must get creative if the likes of veterans Jonathan Toews and John Tavares will join them in Beijing.

Toews, then 21, was the best forward at the 2010 Vancouver Games and Canada’s only one on the all-tournament team. While Toews’ last NHL All-Star selection was in 2017, his last two seasons have been his best in terms of points per game since 2011.

“The one thing that Canada is very good at, they do it extremely well, they select players that fit roles,” McGuire said, noting Mike Richards shifting to the wing during the 2010 Olympics. “When you look at the overwhelming depth that Canada has, that’s going to be the thing that’s going that’s going to be very interesting to watch to see how it plays out at center.”

MORE: NHL players vote on world’s best female hockey player

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!