Seven countries interested in hosting 2026 Winter Olympics

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Seven countries among three continents submitted interest in bidding for the 2026 Winter Olympics before the International Olympic Committee’s deadline.

The current dialogue phase runs to October, when the IOC will choose which cities to invite to its candidate phase running up to a September 2019 IOC members vote for the host.

Bids could hinge on public votes, which led to the demise of recent Summer and Winter Games bids.

The seven potential bids:

Austria (Graz)
Austria ranks fourth in Winter Olympic medals behind Norway, the U.S. and Germany and hosted in Innsbruck in 1964 and 1976. Graz is the nation’s second-largest city after Vienna. It shares a province with Schladming, host of the 1982 and 2013 World Alpine Skiing Championships. A potential venue plan would include figure skating, short track speed skating, hockey and curling in Graz, Alpine skiing in Schladming, more hockey games in Vienna, Linz or Klagenfurt and speed skating and sliding sports in Germany, up to 200 miles from Graz. A planned Innsbruck bid for the 2026 Winter Games was dropped in October after defeat in a public vote. Austria lost in Olympic bidding for 2002 (Graz), 2006 (Klagenfurt), 2010 (Salzburg) and 2014 (Salzburg).

Canada (Calgary)
Calgary hosted the 1988 Winter Games that included the first Jamaican bobsled team and the Battle of the Brians and the Battle of the Carmens in figure skating. If this bid happens, it could see Nordic combined and ski jumping at the Vancouver 2010 venue in Whistler, B.C., more than 500 miles west of Calgary. If Calgary gets the 2026 Winter Games, it could hurt a potential 2030 U.S. bid from Denver, Reno-Tahoe or Salt Lake City since the IOC has never awarded back-to-back Summer or Winter Games to North America (though a Summer Games in North America has been followed by a Winter Games in North America in 1976/1980 and 1984/1988.) Calgary’s mayor said in PyeongChang that a “real decision” on being “serious” about bidding must be made by the summer, according to Sportsnet. Toronto dropped a 2024 Summer Olympic bid. Quebec City showed 2026 bid interest last year before dropping out as well.

Italy (Cortina d’Ampezzo/Milan/Torino)
Italy’s initial declaration last week mentioned only Milan and Torino, but the Cortina mayor later wanted in, too. The three sites are separated by about 300 miles across northern Italy. Torino hosted the Winter Games in 2006, with one Winter Olympics in Europe since then (Sochi 2014, though Russia is transcontinental). Cortina was Italy’s other Winter Games host in 1956. The Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) said it will present a feasibility study on its bid once the new Italian government forms for “a comprehensive evaluation of the entire project.” Italy’s general election on March 4 resulted in no clear majority.

Japan (Sapporo)
Sapporo, which has been talked about as a potential 2026 bid city for more than three years, hosted the first Winter Games in Asia in 1972 as well as the Asian Winter Games in 1986, 1990 and 2017. Sapporo is hoping for a third straight Winter Olympics in East Asia after PyeongChang 2018 and Beijing 2022. Tokyo is also hosting the 2020 Summer Games. IOC president Thomas Bach has said he hopes the Winter Olympics can return to a more traditional location in 2026, which USOC chairman Larry Probst called “code for Europe or North America.” Sapporo’s sliding sports track from 1972 is gone. Bobsled, luge and skeleton could be held at the 1998 Olympic venue in Nagano, which is 600 miles south of Sapporo and on a different island.

Sweden (Stockholm)
The Swedish capital dropped a bid for the 2022 Olympics in 2015 due to lack of political and financial support. The bid was revived for 2026, declared dead by Swedish politicians last April, but kept alive by the Swedish Olympic Committee. As with the 2022 bid, Alpine events are slated for Åre, about 350 miles north. Sliding events could be in Latvia, 300 miles across the Baltic Sea. Sweden hosted one Olympics — the Summer Games in Stockholm in 1912 — plus equestrian events in Stockholm during the 1956 Melbourne Games. It also failed in bids for six straight Winter Olympics — 1984 (Göteborg), 1988 (Falun), 1992 (Falun), 1994 (Östersund), 1998 (Östersund) and 2002 (Östersund).

Switzerland (Sion)
The first city to officially declare 2026 candidacy nearly a year ago. Sion, with a population listed around 30,000, could be the smallest Olympic host city since Lillehammer, Norway, in 1994. The initial Sion framework included events in Bern, Lausanne and St. Moritz. Switzerland hosted the Olympics twice, both Winter Games in St. Moritz (1928 and 1948). Sion previously was a finalist to host the 1976, 2002 and 2006 Winter Olympics, finishing runner-up in voting every time. A possible bid from St. Moritz and Davos was rejected by voters in February 2017. A Sion bid could hinge on a public vote set for June 10.

Turkey (Erzurum)
Turkey has never bid for a Winter Olympics nor hosted a Summer or Winter Games. Istanbul bid for the Summer Olympics in 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2020, coming as close as runner-up to Tokyo for 2020. If successful, Turkey could become the third nation to host a Winter Olympics with no prior Winter Olympic medals. The others were Yugoslavia in 1984 and France at the first Winter Games in 1924. Turkey’s best-ever Winter Olympic finish was 15th (out of 15 teams) in the 1998 men’s cross-country skiing relay, according to the OlyMADMen. Erzurum is an Eastern provincial capital with about 400,000 people.

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MORE: Lillehammer rules out 2026 Olympic bid

Madison Chock, Evan Bates win an ice dance world title for the ages

Madison Chock, Evan Bates
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After 12 years and three Olympics together, Madison Chock and Evan Bates won their first world title in ice dance, becoming the oldest gold medalists in the event and the second U.S. couple to win.

Chock, 30, and Bates, 34, won worlds in Saitama, Japan, totaling 226.01 points between the rhythm dance and free dance for their first gold after three previous silver or bronze medals.

Despite Chock’s fluke fall in the middle of Saturday’s free dance, they prevailed by 6.16 over Italians Charlène Guignard and Marco Fabbri. Canadians Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier took bronze.

“We wouldn’t be sitting here today without many of those challenges that we faced, not just this season, but through all the many seasons of our career,” Chock said. “We really persevered and showed a lot of grit, and, I think, maybe our performance today was a little reflection of that — perseverance and grit yet again. That little blip in the middle was so fast and so unexpected.”

All of the medalists were in their 30s, a first for any figure skating discipline at worlds since World War II, in an event that included none of last year’s Olympic medalists. None have decided whether they will continue competing next season.

FIGURE SKATING WORLDS: Results

French Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron, who won last year’s Olympic and world titles, skipped this season on an indefinite and possibly permanent break from competition. Olympic silver medalists Viktoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov have been barred from competing since last March due to the blanket ban on Russians for the war in Ukraine. Americans Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue, the Olympic bronze medalists, retired.

Chock and Bates, the top returning couple from last season, became the oldest couple to win the ice dance at worlds or the Olympics.

Birthdates are hard to come by for the earliest world champions from Great Britain in the 1950s — before ice dancing became an Olympic event in 1976 — but the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame confirmed many of the missing ages, as did Brit Paul Thomas, a 1956 gold medalist who now coaches in Canada.

Chock and Bates join their former training partners, Meryl Davis and Charlie White, as the lone Americans to win a world title in ice dance. Davis and White did it in 2011 and 2013, then in their final competition in 2014 became the first (and so far only) U.S. couple to win an Olympic ice dance title.

Chock and Bates’ competitive future is uncertain, but they are committed to a summer 2024 wedding.

Perhaps no ice dancers, and few, if any, figure skaters since World War II have waited longer to reach the top of the sport.

Each was looking for a new partner in 2011 when they teamed up, a year after Bates placed 11th in his Olympic debut with Emily Samuelson.

After Davis and White stopped competing, Chock and Bates ascended as the next top U.S. couple in the nation’s strongest figure skating discipline.

For years, it looked like their peak came at the 2015 World Championships, when they led after the short dance and then posted their best free dance score of the season. But Papadakis and Cizeron relegated them to silver minutes later with a breakout performance.

The next season, Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani overtook Chock and Bates as the top U.S. couple. When the Shibutanis stepped away from competition 2018, Hubbell and Donohue inherited the American throne.

Chock and Bates endured her ankle injury in the 2018 Olympic season (they were ninth at those Games, a nadir), her concussion after fainting on a walk on a hot Montreal day in 2020 and a fourth-place finish at last year’s Olympics, missing a medal by 3.25 points.

They did earn an Olympic medal in the team event that will be gold or silver, pending the resolution of Russian Kamila Valiyeva‘s doping case.

“When I think about the totality of our career, I’m struck by what our coaches have done for us and the lifeline that they gave us five years ago,” Bates said, noting their move from Michigan to Montreal in 2018. “After PyeongChang, we could have easily been done.”

Chock and Bates ranked second in the world this season after the fall Grand Prix Series. Things changed the last two months.

In January, Chock and Bates won the U.S. title by largest margin under a 13-year-old scoring system, with what Bates called probably the best skating of their partnership. In February, Chock and Bates won the Four Continents Championships with the best total score in the world this season.

Meanwhile, Gilles and Poirier, the top couple in the fall, lost momentum by missing their nationals and Four Continents due to Gilles’ appendectomy.

World championships highlights air Saturday from 8-10 p.m. ET on NBC, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app.

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2023 World Figure Skating Championships results

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2023 World Figure Skating Championships in Saitama, Japan, top 10 and notable results …

Women
Gold: Kaori Sakamoto (JPN) — 224.61
Silver: Lee Hae-In (KOR) — 220.94
Bronze: Loena Hendrickx (BEL) — 210.42
4. Isabeau Levito (USA) — 207.65
5. Mai Mihara (JPN) — 205.70
6. Kim Chae-Yeon (KOR) — 203.51
7. Nicole Schott (GER) — 197.76
8. Kimmy Repond (SUI) — 194.09
9. Niina Petrokina (EST) — 193.49
10. Rinka Watanabe (JPN) — 192.81
12. Amber Glenn (USA) — 188.33
15. Bradie Tennell (USA) — 184.14

Men (Short Program)
1. Shoma Uno (JPN) — 104.63
2. Ilia Malinin (USA) — 100.38
3. Cha Jun-Hwan (KOR) — 99.64
4. Keegan Messing (CAN) — 98.75
5. Kevin Aymoz (FRA) — 95.56
6. Jason Brown (USA) — 94.17
7. Kazuki Tomono (JPN) — 92.68
8. Daniel Grassl (ITA) — 86.50
9. Lukas Britschgi (SUI) — 86.18
10. Vladimir Litvintsev (AZE) — 82.71
17. Sota Yamamoto (JPN) — 75.48
22. Andrew Torgashev (USA) — 71.41

FIGURE SKATING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

Pairs
Gold: Riku Miura/Ryuichi Kihara (JPN) — 222.16
Silver: Alexa Knierim/Brandon Frazier (USA) — 217.48
Bronze: Sara Conti/Niccolo Macii (ITA) — 208.08
4. Deanna Stellato-Dudek/Maxime Deschamps (CAN) — 199.97
5. Emily Chan/Spencer Howe (USA) — 194.73
6. Lia Pereira/Trennt Michaud (CAN) — 193.00
7. Maria Pavlova/Alexei Sviatchenko (HUN) — 190.67
8. Anastasia Golubova/Hektor Giotopoulos Moore (AUS) — 189.47
9. Annika Hocke/Robert Kunkel (GER) — 184.60
10. Alisa Efimova/Ruben Blommaert (GER) — 184.46
12. Ellie Kam/Danny O’Shea (USA) — 175.59

Ice Dance
Gold: Madison Chock/Evan Bates (USA) — 226.01
Silver: Charlene Guignard/Marco Fabbri (ITA) — 219.85
Bronze: Piper Gilles/Paul Poirier (CAN) — 217.88
4. Lilah Fear/Lewis Gibson (GBR) — 214.73
5. Laurence Fournier Beaudry/Nikolaj Soerensen (CAN) — 214.04
6. Caroline Green/Michael Parsons (USA) — 201.44
7. Allison Reed/Saulius Ambrulevicius (LTU) — 199.20
8. Natalie Taschlerova/Filip Taschler (CZE) — 196.39
9. Juulia Turkkila/Matthias Versluis (FIN) — 193.54
10. Christina Carreira/Anthony Ponomarenko (USA) — 190.10
11. Kana Muramoto/Daisuke Takahashi (JPN) — 188.87

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