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

Dominik Paris, world champion skier, suffers season-ending injury

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Italian Dominik Paris, the reigning world champion in the super-G, suffered a season-ending ACL tear in a training crash Tuesday ahead of this weekend’s speed races in Kitzbuehel, Austria.

Paris crashed in super-G training not far from the hallowed World Cup venue, slipping into a curve and damaging his right knee. He also suffered a fibula microfracture, according to the Italian federation.

“My season ends here,” he said, according to the International Ski Federation (FIS). “Unfortunately while I was sliding, the inside ski caught too much and the ligament broke. There is not much to add. In the next few days we will evaluate, together with the medical staff, how to proceed.”

Paris won his third Hahnenkamm downhill title last year and was one of the favorites for Saturday’s downhill, the most prestigious annual race in the sport. NBC Sports Gold streams live coverage for “Snow Pass” subscribers at 5:30 a.m. ET.

Paris, 30, won a pair of downhills in Bormio in December among five total podiums this season.

In his absence, Swiss Beat Feuz and German Thomas Dressen lead the podium contenders.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Alpine skiing season TV schedule

It’s Nathan Chen’s time at nationals for a feat 32 years in the making

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Nathan Chen can join Brian Boitano in U.S. figure skating history this week, a decade after holding Boitano in the palm of his hands with a program set to music from “Kung Fu Panda.”

Chen seeks a fourth straight national title in Greensboro, N.C. He would be the seventh man to do so since World War II. Five of the previous six won Olympic titles — Dick Button, Hayes Jenkins, David Jenkins, Scott Hamilton and, most recently, Brian Boitano from 1985-88.

Boitano remembered the first time he met Chen. He and Kristi Yamaguchi were compelled to leave their seats to find the teeny, tiny wunderkind who performed that program to the 2008 DreamWorks film.

“He was taking off his skates, and he probably came up to our waist,” Boitano said. “We knew when we saw him back then that he was going to be something special. He was really quiet. He’s still very quiet.”

In an interview last week, Chen focused on the present — coming back from a two-week cold or flu bug — rather than the perspective.

“I don’t like to typically think about that,” Chen said when asked about his streak. “It’s just different [from year to year]. It’s not really necessarily easier or harder.”

It is also different from previous eras. The last five men to win four in a row did it all in one Olympic cycle, then stepped away from competition after the Winter Games. That was back when turning professional meant the end of an Olympic career.

“It was kind of the norm back then,” Hamilton said. “After that it was kind of back and forth a lot [until Chen]. The business of skating changed so skaters could stay in a lot more, a lot longer. With all the money they brought in, they were able to prevent skaters from turning professional. So that brought in a different approach to nationals.”

NATIONALS PREVIEWS: Nathan Chen | Alysa Liu | Vincent Zhou | Pairs | TV Schedule

Both Hamilton and six-time (non-consecutive) U.S. champion Todd Eldredge could think of just one name to compare Chen’s dominance in the history of U.S. men’s skating: Button, who won the first seven national titles after World War II, plus two Olympic golds.

Button earned national and world titles as a Harvard student. Chen is on a two-season win streak while majoring in statistics and data science at Yale. Button was the first skater to land a double Axel and a triple jump of any kind. Chen was the first to land six quads in one free skate.

Eldredge coaches skaters at the same rink where Chen trains when Chen visits his Southern California-based coach Rafael Arutunian. He is awed by watching Chen working out. Though Eldredge owns more national titles, he never felt the massive favorite status that accompanies Chen.

Eldredge competed in the post-Hamilton/Boitano era, when national champions began competing over multiple Olympic cycles. Eldredge ebbed and flowed from his first national title in 1990, when compulsory figures were still around, to 2002, when he defeated Timothy Goebel, then known as the Quad King.

“Physically, the demands of the sport take their toll on your body,” Eldredge said. “It’s hard to maintain that same level for that length of period of time.

“[In] 12 years [since Chen’s first national title], when he’s 29 years old, is he going to be able to continue to sustain that?”

All of the recent top U.S. men competed in multiple Olympic cycles. The last multiple national champion was Jeremy Abbott, who earned two titles each in two different Olympic cycles. Abbott finished his career in a third Olympic cycle, placing fifth at the 2015 U.S. Championships. Abbott didn’t remember that Chen made his senior nationals debut that year, finishing eighth at age 15.

“For me, winning the third and the fourth [titles] were harder because I started thinking about winning,” Abbott said. “After the second one, I was heading into a new quad and I was two-time U.S. champion. Then my focus was, oh, I’m expected to win. So that was a harder mental game rather than just focusing on making an Olympic team. The expectation now that I’ve done this twice in a row, I’m expected to win again and again and again.”

Abbott and Chen came up in the era of the points-based judging system instituted in 2004.

“Now with the way the scoring system is very different [from the old 6.0], cumulative points, if you have a bad day as a national champion, that’s it. You can’t get the points,” Eldredge said. “[In previous eras], if a certain skater was, I’ll say politically supposed to be the champion, you got a higher score, and rightfully so in most cases.”

Chen has the benefit of going into competitions knowing the kind of advantage he has in base value points from his jumping arsenal. He won last year’s national title by 58 points. This international season, he is 80 points clear of the next-highest-ranked U.S. man, Jason Brown.

“I don’t think that the try-to-push technique is necessarily my goal here,” at nationals, Chen said. “Hopefully just to maintain my body, maintain my health and try to prepare myself for the second half of the season.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Canadian ice dancers overcome wardrobe malfunction at nationals

As a reminder, you can watch the events from the 2019-20 figure skating season live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. Go to NBCsports.com/gold/figure-skating to sign up for access to every ISU Grand Prix and championship event, as well as domestic U.S. Figure Skating events throughout the season. NBC Sports Gold gives subscribers an unprecedented level of access on more platforms and devices than ever before.