2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Olympics may include Turin after all

2006 Olympics Speedskating
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MILAN — Speed skating for the 2026 Milan-Cortina Olympics might be moved to the 2006 Turin Olympic oval or a temporary facility elsewhere after the IOC rejected plans to build an expensive roof over the outdoor track at Baselga di Piné.

Costs for the roof were initially slated at $54 million, according to a project announced in November. But there were concerns that actual costs could rise by at least 50%.

“The IOC said the investment was underestimated and not sustainable for the area and the IOC reserves the right to point the way in terms of executing the Games,” said Giovanni Malagò, president of both the 2026 organizing committee and the Italian Olympic Committee.

“I defended the original masterplan but there comes a time when you can no longer defend the undefendable,” Malagò added. “Everything that has happened since then, from COVID to the war (in Ukraine), has gone against us. Baselga is not a victim but rather one of the issues that arise systematically during the organization of an international event like the Olympics.”

While officials in the Trentino region are still hoping to rebuild the Baselga track, Malagò said Friday during a visit to the oval that he’s hoping Trentino and Lombardy can bid to host the Youth Winter Olympics for 2028.

Building a roof over the Baselga track was part of the plan when Milan-Cortina was awarded the Games in 2019 but not included in the official budget in an era of increasing sensitivity about the cost of staging the Olympics.

There have been calls from the start of Italy’s 2026 bid to hold speed skating at the existing indoor oval built for the 2006 Turin Games. The last Olympics to hold speed skating outdoors, where weather can affect ice conditions and therefore results, was the 1992 Albertville Games.

“It’s not automatic,” Malagò said about the possible move to Turin. “We will discuss all of the different possibilities.”

Outdoor ice is notoriously tough to keep in shape for all competitors to have a fair chance at a medal.

High temperatures made matters challenging in Albertville, where one recurring term was “slush,” with skaters ploughing through soft ice that sometimes had a thin sheet of water on top.

Over longer distances, when a competition session can take two hours, conditions at outdoor tracks can change to the extent that gold can depend as much on the starting time as on four years of preparation.

Ice-making facilities were removed from the Turin oval and it would cost an estimated $16 million to reinstall the system.

Besides Turin, other possibilities might include building a temporary track inside a convention center in the Lombardy or the Veneto regions that contain Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo, respectively.

Italy’s initial bid declaration in March 2018 was for a joint Milan-Turin candidate. Cortina was added within a week to make it a three-pronged bid. By September 2018, Turin dropped out after political infighting, when a senior Italian official declared the bid “dead.”

But the bid pressed on as Milan-Cortina and beat a Swedish bid in the 2019 host election.

Turin is 85 miles southwest of Milan, which is 200 miles southwest of Cortina.

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Ilia Malinin wins U.S. Figure Skating Championships despite quadruple Axel miss

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One year ago, Ilia Malinin came to the U.S. Championships as, largely, a 17-year-old unknown. He finished second to Nathan Chen in 2022 and was left off the three-man Olympic team due to his inexperience, a committee decision that lit a fire in him.

After the biggest year of change in U.S. figure skating in three decades, Malinin came to this week’s nationals in San Jose, California, as the headliner across all disciplines.

Though he fell on his quadruple Axel and doubled two other planned quads in Sunday’s free skate (the most ambitious program in history), he succeeded the absent Chen as national champion.

Malinin, the world’s second-ranked male singles skater, still landed two clean quads in Friday’s short program and three more Sunday. He totaled 287.74 points and prevailed by 10.43 over two-time Olympian Jason Brown, a bridge between the Chen and Malinin eras.

“This wasn’t the skate that I wanted,” said Malinin, who was bidding to become the second man to land six quads in one program after Chen. The Virginia chalked up the flaws at least partially to putting more recent practice time into his short program, which he skated clean on Friday after errors in previous competitions.

FIGURE SKATING NATIONALS: Full Results

Brown, a 28-year-old competing for the first time since placing sixth at the Olympics, became the oldest male singles skater to finish in the top three at nationals since Jeremy Abbott won the last of his four titles in 2014. As usual, he didn’t attempt a quad but had the highest artistic score by 9.41 points.

Brown’s seven total top-three finishes at nationals tie him with Chen, Michael WeissBrian Boitano, David Jenkins and Dick Button for the second-most in men’s singles since World War II, trailing only Todd Eldredge‘s and Hayes Jenkins‘ eight.

“I’m not saying it’s super old, but I can’t train the way I used to,” Brown said after Friday’s short program. “What Ilia is doing and the way he is pushing the sport is outstanding and incredible to watch. I cannot keep up.”

Andrew Torgashev took bronze, winning the free skate with one quad and all clean jumps. Torgashev, who competed at nationals for the first time since placing fifth in 2020 at age 18, will likely round out the three-man world team.

Japan’s Shoma Uno will likely be the favorite at worlds. He won last year’s world title, when Malinin admittedly cracked under pressure in the free skate after a fourth-place short program and ended up ninth.

That was before Malinin became the first person to land a quad Axel in competition. That was before Malinin became the story of the figure skating world this fall. That was before Malinin took over the American throne from Chen, who is studying at Yale and not expected to return to competition.

Malinin’s next step is to grab another label that Chen long held: best in the world. To do that, he must be better than he was on Sunday.

“You always learn from your experiences, and there’s always still the rest of the season to come,” he said. “I just have to be prepared and prepare a little bit extra so that doesn’t happen again.”

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Mark McMorris breaks Winter X Games medals record; David Wise wins first title in 5 years

Mark McMorris
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Canadian snowboarder Mark McMorris broke his tie with American Jamie Anderson for the most Winter X Games medals across all sites, earning his 22nd medal, a slopestyle gold, in Aspen, Colorado.

On the final run of Sunday’s contest, McMorris overtook Norway’s Marcus Kleveland with back-to-back 1620s on the last two jumps. McMorris’ last three Aspen slopestyle titles were all won on his final run (2019, 2022).

“It’s something I never thought would ever come to me as a kid from Saskatchewan,” McMorris, 29, said on the broadcast. “Everything’s just been a bonus since I became a pro snowboarder.”

In a format introduced three years ago, athletes were ranked on overall impression of their best run over the course of a jam session rather than scoring individual runs.

McMorris won his record-extending seventh X Games Aspen men’s slopestyle title, one day after finishing fourth in big air.

“It just keeps getting crazier because I keep getting older,” he said. “People just keep pushing the limits, pushing the limits. Last night was such a downer, almost bums me out, like, dude, do I still have it? … To have one of those miracle wins where you do it on the last run and someone makes you push yourself, those are the best feelings.”

McMorris won slopestyle bronze medals at each of the last three Olympics and reportedly said last February that he was planning to compete through the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Games.

Canadian Max Parrot, the 2022 Olympic slopestyle champion, is taking this season off from competition.

Anderson, a two-time Olympic snowboard slopestyle champion, is expecting her first child.

Later Sunday, American David Wise earned his first major ski halfpipe title since repeating as Olympic champion in 2018. Wise landed back-to-back double cork 1260s to end his winning run, according to commentators.

“I wouldn’t still be out here if I didn’t think I had a chance,” Wise, 32 and now a five-time X Games Aspen champ, said on the broadcast. “I’m not going to be the guy who just keeps playing the game until everybody just begs me to stop.”

U.S. Olympian Mac Forehand won men’s ski big air with a 2160 on his last run, according to commentators. It scored a perfect 50. Olympic gold medalist Birk Ruud of Norway followed with a triple cork 2160 of his own, according to commentators, and finished third.

Canadian skier Megan Oldham added slopestyle gold to her big air title from Friday, relegating Olympic champion Mathilde Gremaud of Switzerland to silver.

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