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Switzerland 2026 Olympic bid rejected by public vote

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SION, Switzerland (AP) — Another Olympic hosting bid in Switzerland was sunk Sunday by a public vote against expected high costs.

A total of 53.98 percent of voters in the Swiss region of Valais refused to pledge financial support for a 2026 Winter Games hosting bid centered on the town of Sion.

“There is no plan B,” Sion Mayor Philippe Varone said Sunday, declaring the bid campaign over.

It is the third time in five years that a bid campaign supported by the Swiss national Olympic body was rejected by the people.

In 2013, voters in the upscale ski resorts of St. Moritz and Davos, plus their home canton (state), rejected a bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics. Last year, the same Graubuenden region rejected a renewed campaign for 2026.

Sunday’s vote is another rejection by European voters for the International Olympic Committee, and one that hit closer to home.

Sion called for medal events to be scattered across Switzerland, including in the IOC’s home city of Lausanne in the neighboring canton of Vaud.

The IOC on Sunday blamed misinformation for the latest loss.

“From the polls, we understand that outdated information on the cost of the Games was the main concern for those voting against the funding,” the Olympic body said.

Sion offered what the bidders termed a sustainable Olympics relying on already existing ice venues and ski courses. Voters rejected assurances from the IOC and bid supporters that expensive new construction would not be needed.

The IOC has created a more flexible bidding process for the 2026 Olympics, and still has six possible bids in contention: Turin and Milan in Italy; Graz in Austria; Stockholm; Turkey’s Erzurum; Calgary, Canada; and Sapporo, Japan.

IOC members will make their decision in September 2019.

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MORE: A look at 2026 Olympic bid cities

First Olympic women’s aerials champion Cheryazova dies at 50

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MOSCOW (AP) Lina Cheryazova, the first woman to win an Olympic aerials skiing gold medal, has died. She was 50.

Officials in the Russian city of Novosibirsk, where Cheryazova was living for the last two decades, said she died “following a lengthy illness,” without giving further details.

Competing for Uzbekistan, Cheryazova won gold with a triple flip when aerials skiing debuted on the Olympic program in 1994 in Lillehammer.

Shortly after winning, she learned her mother died three weeks before.

Cheryazova’s career was derailed later that year when she suffered a serious head injury while training in the United States, and spent days in a coma. She retired after failing to qualify for the 1998 Winter Olympics.

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Clare Egan notches first World Cup podium in biathlon season finale

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In the final biathlon event of the 2018-19 season, American Clare Egan recorded her first career World Cup podium finish, placing third in the mass start in Oslo, Norway. She hit 19 of 20 targets and crossed the finish line 10.4 seconds behind winner Hanna Oberg of Sweden. Norway’s Tiril Eckhoff finished second.

Egan, 31, made her Olympic debut at the 2018 PyeongChang Games, but considered retiring from biathlon at the end of the last season. “I decided that I wanted to do one more year, just for fun, just to see how much I could learn and how good a biathlete I could become,” Egan said in a U.S. Biathlon press release.

Her decision to continue has paid off: since the start of the 2018-19 season, Egan has posted the top eight finishes of her career (including three top-10 results). She concludes the season ranked 18th in the overall World Cup standings.

“I skied much faster this year than I have in the past and I think that was due to finally finding a good balance in my training, between working hard and resting. I did not train more, but the quality was much higher. I’m very excited for the next season,” Egan told U.S. Biathlon.