Megan Rapinoe, Carli Lloyd headline U.S. roster for Olympic qualifying

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Megan Rapinoe and Carli Lloyd lead a 20-player U.S. Olympic soccer qualifying roster, which could be a peek at what the team could look like in Tokyo.

The U.S. women, reigning World Cup champions after being upset in the Rio Olympic quarterfinals, will clinch an Olympic spot by placing top two at a CONCACAF qualifier in the United States from Jan. 28-Feb. 9.

The Americans played in every Olympic soccer tournament since women debuted at the 1996 Atlanta Games. Given they are ranked No. 1 in the world, and only one other CONCACAF nation is in the top 25 (No. 8 Canada), they will be heavy favorites to reach the Olympic qualifier final.

The qualifying team of 20:

Goalkeepers
Adrianna Franch
Ashlyn Harris
Alyssa Naeher

Defenders
Abby Dahlkemper
Crystal Dunn
Ali Krieger
Kelley O’Hara
Becky Sauerbrunn
Emily Sonnett

Midfielders
Julie Ertz
Lindsey Horan
Rose Lavelle
Samantha Mewis
Andi Sullivan

Forwards
Tobin Heath
Carli Lloyd
Jessica McDonald
Christen Press
Megan Rapinoe
Lynn Williams

The eight players who were named in December to this month’s camp who didn’t make the team: goalie Jane Campbell and field players Tierna Davidson, Midge Purce, Casey Short, Morgan Brian, Allie Long, Mallory Pugh and Sophia Smith.

Brian, Long and Pugh made the Rio Olympic team. The Tokyo Olympic team will be 18 players, two fewer than qualifying, with the roster likely to include two goalies.

Competition to make the final 18 will intensify in the spring, in part due to the expected return of forward Alex Morgan from pregnancy. The last two Olympic teams each had four forwards, but new coach Vlatko Andonovski may be signaling a different makeup by putting six on the qualifying team.

Williams and Sullivan are the only two players on the qualifying roster who were not on the 23-player 2019 World Cup champion team.

In 2016, Rapinoe was not on the Olympic qualifying roster due to an ACL tear but came back to make the Olympic team.

Lloyd, who turns 38 a week before the Tokyo Games, is bidding to become the oldest U.S. Olympic soccer player in history, breaking Christie Rampone‘s record. Lloyd and Heath are trying to tie Rampone’s U.S. record of playing in four Olympic tournaments.

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IOC gives more time to pick 2030 Olympic host, studies rotating Winter Games

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The 2030 Winter Olympic host, expected to be Salt Lake City or Sapporo, Japan, is no longer targeted to be decided before next fall, the IOC said in announcing wider discussions into the future of the Winter Games, including the possibility of rotating the Games within a pool of hosts.

The IOC Future Host Commission was granted more time to study factors, including climate change, that could impact which cities and regions host future Winter Olympics and Paralympics. The 2030 Winter Games host is not expected to be decided before or at an IOC session next September or October.

Hosts have traditionally been chosen by IOC members vote seven years before the Games, though recent reforms allow flexibility on the process and timeline. For example, the 2024 and 2028 Games were awarded to Paris and Los Angeles in a historic double award in 2017. The 2032 Summer Games were awarded to Brisbane last year without a traditional bid race.

Italy hosts the 2026 Winter Games in Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo.

There are three interested parties for the 2030 Winter Olympics, the IOC said Tuesday without naming them. Previously, Salt Lake City, Sapporo and Vancouver were confirmed as bids. Then in October, the British Columbia government said it would not support a Vancouver bid, a major setback, though organizers did not say that decision ended the bid. All three cities are attractive as past Winter Games hosts with existing venues.

U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee officials have said Salt Lake City is a likelier candidate for 2034 than 2030, but could step in for 2030 if asked.

The future host commission outlined proposals for future Winter Olympics, which included rotating hosts within a pool of cities or regions and a requirement that hosts have an average minimum temperature below freezing (32 degrees) for snow competition venues at the time of the Games over a 10-year period.

The IOC Executive Board gave the commission more time to study the proposals and other factors impacting winter sports.

The IOC board also discussed and will continue to explore a potential double awarding of the 2030 and 2034 Winter Olympic hosts.

Also Tuesday, the IOC board said that Afghanistan participation in the 2024 Olympics will depend on making progress in safe access to sports for women and young girls in the country.

On Monday, Human Rights Watch urged the IOC to suspend Afghanistan until women and girls can play sport in the country.

In a press release, the IOC board expressed “serious concern and strongly condemned the latest restrictions imposed by the Afghan authorities on women and young girls in Afghanistan, which prevent them from practicing sport in the country.” It urged Afghanistan authorities to “take immediate action at the highest level to reverse such restrictions and ensure safe access to sport for women and young girls.”

The IOC board also announced that North Korea’s National Olympic Committee will be reinstated when its suspension is up at the end of the year.

In September 2021, the IOC banned the North Korean NOC through the end of 2022, including banning a North Korean delegation from participating in the Beijing Winter Games, after it chose not to participate in the Tokyo Games.

North Korea, formally known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, was the only one of 206 National Olympic Committees to withdraw from Tokyo. The country made its choice in late March 2021, citing a desire “to protect our athletes from the global health crisis caused by the malicious virus infection.”

The IOC said in September 2021 that it “provided reassurances for the holding of safe Games and offered constructive proposals to find an appropriate and tailor-made solution until the very last minute (including the provision of vaccines), which were systematically rejected by the PRK NOC.”

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Olympic champion Justine Dufour-Lapointe leaves moguls for another skiing discipline

Justine Dufour-Lapointe
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Justine Dufour-Lapointe, the 2014 Olympic moguls champion, is leaving the event to compete in freeriding, a non-Olympic skiing discipline.

“After three Olympic cycles and 12 years on the World Cup circuit, I felt that I needed to find a new source of motivation and had to push my limits even more so I can reach my full potential as a skier,” the 28-year-old Montreal native said in a social media video, according to a translation from French. “Today, I am starting a new chapter in my career. … I want to perfect myself in another discipline. I want to connect with the mountain differently. Above all, I want to get out of my comfort zone in a way I’ve never done before.”

Dufour-Lapointe said she will compete on the Freeride World Tour, a series of judged competitions described as:

There‘s a start gate at the summit and a finish gate at the bottom. That’s it. Best run down wins. It truly is that simple. Think skiers and snowboarders choosing impossible-looking lines through cornices and cliff-faces and nasty couloirs. Think progressive: big jumps, mach-speed turns and full-on attack. Think entertaining.

Dufour-Lapointe has retired from moguls skiing, according to a Freeride World Tour press release, though she did not explicitly say that in social media posts Tuesday.

At the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, Dufour-Lapointe denied American Hannah Kearney‘s bid to become the first freestyle skier to repeat as Olympic champion. Older sister Chloé took silver in a Canadian one-two.

Dufour-Lapointe also won the world title in 2015, then Olympic silver in 2018 behind Frenchwoman Perrine Laffont.

Chloé announced her retirement in September. A third Dufour-Lapointe Olympic moguls skier, Maxime, retired in 2018.

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