PARK CITY, Utah — The US Olympic Committee held its three-day Team USA Media Summit this week to highlight the athletes and story lines that will be likely focal points at the 2018 Winter Olympics and Paralympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.
While some athletes have already locked in their spots on Team USA, the season for qualifying is just beginning for many others. Some teams, such as freestyle skiing and snowboarding, will not be finalized until late January.
Here are some takeaways as the buildup to the Feb. 9-25 Games begins.
■ The USOC confirmed its interest in having the Winter Olympics return to the US, possibly as soon as 2026. But 2030 appears more likely for a US bid because Los Angeles only recently secured the 2028 Summer Games, and trumping that with a 2026 bid could be complicated.
Potential US locations for a Winter Olympics include Salt Lake City, which held the last Winter Games in the US in 2002, Denver, and Reno/Tahoe.
The USOC has not taken any action toward considering a bid, but CEO Scott Blackmun said he expects the issue to be discussed at the next USOC meeting in October.
“We’re grateful that we have multiple cities who are interested in looking at it,” Blackmun said.
■ Men’s hockey officials are optimistic about the team’s chance to medal in PyeongChang despite the NHL’s decision to not participate. Many are comparing this year’s team, which will be made up of college players, AHL players, and Americans playing overseas, to the 1980 team that featured all college players and was the last US team to win gold.
Troy Terry, the University of Denver star and a likely choice for the PyeongChang team, even cited the movie “Miracle” in his remarks this week.
But there’s a huge difference. The 1980 team practiced and played together through the months leading to the Games. In 2018, the players will assemble as a team for the first time in South Korea because all the players will be in the midst of a season with another team.
■ Meanwhile, the women’s hockey team is already together training in Florida and will begin a pre-Olympics tour with a game vs. Canada at Agganis Arena in Boston Oct. 25.
The team is also cognizant of a significant moment in team history: The 2018 Games will be the 20th anniversary of the US team winning the first women’s hockey gold medal in Olympic history.
“When I think about that team and what they did, what they stood for, and what they were able to accomplish, there’s a lot of parallels between that team and the group that we have right now,” said team captain Meghan Duggan, who is from Danvers.
“That was a powerful group of women that did something amazing by sticking together and putting their minds to bringing home that gold medal.”
The current team also has been a trail blazer. In March, players threatened to boycott the World Championships in a bid for better compensation and more equitable treatment. The dispute was resolved when USA Hockey agreed to a new four-year deal just days before the World Championships began in Michigan. The US defeated Canada in the title game.
“This is the group that’s going to do what that group did 20 years ago,” Duggan said.
■ Some young athletes could steal the show for the US. They include 17-year-old snowboard halfpipe star Chloe Kim, who is of South Korean ancestry; 17-year-old snowboard big air specialist Red Gerard; 18-year-old figure skater Karen Chen, the 2017 US women’s champion; 18-year-old figure skater Nathan Chen, who is also the US champ but not related to Karen; and freestyle skier Maggie Voisin, who will turn 19 in December.
■ Jordan Greenway of Boston University faces a bit of a tight schedule if he is chosen for the men’s hockey team. The final night of the Beanpot tournament is Feb. 12, and the US is scheduled to open pool play vs. Slovenia on Feb. 14.
“I don’t exactly know how it’s going to go,” Greenway said. “But obviously I have a big commitment to honor for Boston University, and I’m going to do everything I can to be in that tournament because it’s a fun one.
“I look forward to it every year, so I hope I can be there. But this is a huge stage, this is a once-in-a-lifetime thing, so this is an opportunity that I have to take and hopefully be able to play in the Beanpot again next year and get BU a championship.”
■ Security was an obvious concern, and many athletes were asked about it. Most said they were aware of the tension between the US and North Korea, but that it would not change their plans to travel to the Olympics, and many said they’d already purchased tickets for their families as well.
USOC leadership expressed confidence in security but also said it has been in regular contact with the US State Department regarding the Games.
■ Get ready to hear “Legends” by Sleeping with Sirens a lot. That’s the official song of the US team for this Olympics.
■ A few top story lines for the Paralympics, which immediately follow the Olympics: The men’s hockey team is going for a three-peat; “Dancing With The Stars” runner-up Amy Purdy is a contender for the snowboarding team; the wheelchair curling team is out to knock Canada off the top of the podium — no other nation has won gold in the sport; and snowboard banked slalom will make its debut.Follow Matt Pepin on Twitter at @mattpep15.