Salt Lake City civic leaders and athletes band together for possible bid to host Olympics again

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Olympic medalists Eric Heiden, Apolo Ohno, Shannon Bahrke, Derek Parra and Noelle Pikus-Pace are among the members of a large committee to prepare Salt Lake City and Utah for a possible bid for the 2030 or 2034 Winter Olympics.

Salt Lake City, which hosted the 2002 Games, is not yet officially in the running for the Games, but it will be the candidate if the U.S. bids.

The Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games will be led by a couple of business leaders — retired Rocky Mountain Power president/CEO Cindy Crane is the chair, while Sorenson Capital managing director Fraser Bullock is the committee’s president/CEO. The vice chairs are leaders of Utah’s top sports organizations — Jeff Robbins of the Utah Sports Commission and Colin Hilton of the Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation. 

All of the areas that have expressed interest in hosting the 2030 Games have hosted the Olympics in the past. The first official bid is 1972 Winter Olympic host Sapporo, Japan. Barcelona, which hosted the 1992 Summer Olympics, is bidding to follow Beijing in hosting the Winter Olympics after hosting the Summer Games.

Salt Lake City may be at a disadvantage in bidding for the 2030 Olympics because Los Angeles is hosting the Summer Olympics two years prior. Continental rotation isn’t a certainty, though, with Asia hosting both the 2020 (Tokyo) and 2022 (Beijing) Olympics.

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and recently elected Salt Lake Mayor Erin Mendenhall unveiled the committee Wednesday in the Utah State Capitol Building.

“This committee is an important next step for Utah, as the state of sport, to show that we continue to be ready, willing and able to play host to a future Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games,” Herbert said.

“We are ready to welcome the world again as a returning host of a future Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games,” Mendenhall said. “Our beautiful city has so much to offer our worldwide guests, including the added benefit of our existing Olympic facilities and infrastructure.”

Salt Lake City’s venues are still in consistent use. The Utah Olympic Oval is a popular World Cup stop, where the high altitude contributes to a lot of world records. Utah Olympic Park is an essential training spot for U.S. winter sports athletes, and its sliding track is frequently used for World Cup competitions.

The executive committee includes a current Olympian — short-track speedskater Maame Biney — along with retired speedskater Catherine Raney Norman and Paralympic skiing multimedalist Chris Waddell. The city’s pro teams are also represented by Steve Miller, son on longtime Utah Jazz owner Larry Miller, and Real Salt Lake/Utah Royals owner Dell Roy Hansen.

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Teri McKeever fired by Cal as women’s swimming coach after investigation

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Teri McKeever, the first woman to serve as a U.S. Olympic swimming head coach, was fired by the University of California at Berkeley after an investigation into alleged verbal and emotional abuse of swimmers that she denied.

McKeever was put on paid administrative leave from her job as head women’s swimming coach in May after an Orange County Register report that 20 current or former Cal swimmers said McKeever verbally and emotionally bullied her swimmers.

Cal athletics director Jim Knowlton wrote in a letter to the Cal team and staff that a resulting independent law firm report detailed “verbally abusive conduct that is antithetical to our most important values.”

“I strongly believe this is in the best interests of our student-athletes, our swimming program and Cal Athletics as a whole,” Knowlton said of McKeever’s firing in a press release. “The report details numerous violations of university policies that prohibit race, national origin and disability discrimination.”

The Orange County Register first published what it says is the full independent report here.

“I deny and unequivocally refute all conclusions that I abused or bullied any athlete and deny any suggestion I discriminated against any athlete on the basis of race, disability or sexual orientation,” McKeever said in a statement Tuesday confirming her firing and expressing disappointment in how the investigation was conducted. “While I am disappointed in the way my CAL Career will conclude, I wish to thank and celebrate the many student-athletes and staff that made my time in Berkeley a true blessing and gift.”

McKeever’s lawyer wrote that McKeever “will be filing suit to expose the manner in which gender has affected not only the evaluation of her coaching but harmed and continues to harm both female and male athletes.”

McKeever led Cal women’s swimming and diving for nearly 30 years, winning four NCAA team titles and coaching Olympic champions including Missy FranklinNatalie Coughlin and Dana Vollmer.

In 2004, she became the first woman to be on a U.S. Olympic swim team coaching staff, as an assistant. In 2012, she became the first woman to be head coach of a U.S. Olympic swim team. She was an assistant again for the Tokyo Games.

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Diana Taurasi returns to U.S. national basketball team

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Diana Taurasi is set to return to the U.S. national basketball team next week for the first time since the Tokyo Olympics, signaling a possible bid for a record-breaking sixth Olympic appearance in 2024 at age 42.

Taurasi is on the 15-player roster for next week’s training camp in Minnesota announced Tuesday.

Brittney Griner is not on the list but is expected to return to competitive basketball later this year with her WNBA team, the Phoenix Mercury (also Taurasi’s longtime team, though she is currently a free agent), after being detained in Russia for 10 months in 2022.

Taurasi said as far back as the 2016 Rio Games that her Olympic career was likely over, but returned to the national team after Dawn Staley succeeded Geno Auriemma as head coach in 2017.

In Tokyo, Taurasi and longtime backcourt partner Sue Bird became the first basketball players to win five Olympic gold medals. Bird has since retired.

After beating Japan in the final, Taurasi said “see you in Paris,” smiling, as she left an NBC interview. That’s now looking less like a joke and more like a prediction.

Minnesota Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve succeeded Staley as head coach last year. In early fall, she guided the U.S. to arguably the best FIBA World Cup performance ever, despite not having stalwarts Bird, Griner, Tina Charles and Sylvia Fowles.

Taurasi was not in contention for the team after suffering a WNBA season-ending quad injury in the summer. Taurasi, who is 38-0 in Olympic games and started every game at the last four Olympics, wasn’t on a U.S. team for an Olympics or worlds for the first time since 2002.

Next year, Taurasi can become the oldest Olympic basketball player in history and the first to play in six Games, according to Olympedia.org. Spain’s Rudy Fernandez could also play in a sixth Olympics in 2024.

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