After the humbling smackdowns of its last two bid cities, the US Olympic Committee is being patient and pragmatic about jumping back into the Games chase.
“We’re just trying to get smarter and see which cities we might want to have serious discussions with,” chief executive Scott Blackmun said after the board voted last month to explore possibilities for the 2024 Summer and 2026 Winter events.
There’s no shortage of potential candidates. Los Angeles, Dallas, and Tulsa are interested in the summer version and Salt Lake City, Denver, Reno-Tahoe, and Bozeman, Mont., in the winter. New York and Chicago, which were crushed in their quests for 2012 and 2016, could be up for another go, as could San Francisco, the runner-up to New York in the domestic race.
The landscape is decidedly more favorable for an American bid now that the International Olympic Committee and USOC have settled on a long-term revenue-sharing plan, helped by some savvy fence-mending by Blackmun and chairman Larry Probst, who has re-upped for a second four-year term.
But given the immense cost of staging the Games — London spent an estimated $15 billion — and a lead time of nearly a decade from lobbying for the USOC’s imprimatur to the opening ceremonies, it’s imperative that candidates know exactly what they’re undertaking.
“We will be smarter at the end of the year than we are at the beginning,” predicted Blackmun.
The chase for the 2020 Summer Games got down to the meat-and-potatoes phase Monday when finalists Tokyo, Madrid, and Istanbul submitted their detailed bid books at Olympic headquarters in Switzerland. The IOC’s evaluation commission will visit the cities in March and prepare a technical report for the members, who’ll choose the site at their September session in Buenos Aires.
Rupp on board
Olympic pole vault champion Jenn Suhr and distance medalist Galen Rupp will be the marquee domestic names, along with London hurdles gold medalist Aries Merritt, at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix Feb. 2 at Roxbury’s Reggie Lewis Center. Rupp, whose silver in the 10,000 meters was the first US medal in the event since Billy Mills’s gold in 1964, will be challenged by Ethiopia’s Dejen Gebremeskel, the silver medalist in the 5,000 in London. Tickets are available online at nbindoorgrandprix.com or by calling 1-877-849-8722 . . . A star-spangled slalom star? Mikaela Shiffrin has the Alpine world buzzing after winning her second World Cup race of the season by more than a second last weekend in Croatia. The 17-year-old Shiffrin, a native of Vail, Colo., and a product of Vermont’s Burke Mountain Academy, is the first American woman to accomplish that before 18 and the youngest since 1977. With Austrian defending champion Marlies Schild sidelined for three months after her December knee surgery, Shiffrin, who is atop the slalom standings and sixth overall, has a shot at next month’s world championships to become the first Yank to win the title in that discipline and figures to be the first podium finisher since Julie Parisien in 1993. Shiffrin earned the Snow Queen title with her Zagreb triumph, which came with a glass crown (broken in the box, as it turned out) and a robe. “I think I have a new Halloween costume for next year,” she said. “First I need to glue [the crown] back together.” . . . While the six races she missed while recovering from her intestinal ailment likely will keep Lindsey Vonn from retaining her overall Cup title, she still has an excellent chance of keeping both the downhill and Super G globes and reclaiming those titles at the world championships. Though Vonn has dropped to seventh on the table, 725 points behind Slovenian leader Tina Maze, she’s still ahead in both speed events with a chance to pad her lead in next weekend’s races in St. Anton, Austria. With six more Cup victories, Vonn will overtake Austria’s Annemarie Moser-Proell for most in a career. By winning last weekend’s slalom in Zagreb, Austria’s Marcel Hirscher took the men’s lead over Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal. Ted Ligety, who skied out of the first run, is in third but leads the GS standings going into the upcoming races in Adelboden, Switzerland.
After its Omaha debut later this month the US Figure Skating Association is going back to familiar ice for the three subsequent national championships. Next year’s Olympic selection event will be at TD Garden, which hosted in 2001, with Greensboro, N.C. (2011) and St. Paul (2008) in line for 2015 and 2016 . . . Newest members of the US Figure Skating Hall of Fame are Rudy Galindo and Lori Nichol, who’ll be inducted at the nationals. Galindo, who shocked the skating world when he dethroned Todd Eldredge in 1996 and went on to win global bronze, also won two pairs titles with Kristi Yamaguchi, whose daughter Emma he now coaches. Nichol, a Canadian citizen, has been the go-to choreographer for decades. She created Michelle Kwan’s transformative Salome program and shaped Evan Lysacek’s gold-medal programs for Vancouver . . . While the German men were sweeping last weekend’s World Cup bobsled races on their home track in Altenberg, US pilot Steve Holcomb was in St. Moritz tuning up for the world championships later this month, where the Olympic gold medalist will be bidding to retain the two-man and four-man titles he won in Lake Placid. Even conceding the Cup points, Holcomb still is within reach of German overall leader Manuel Machata. Though Canada’s Kaillie Humphries still is atop the women’s standings, her five-race win streak was snapped last weekend by Germany’s Cathleen Martini, who’d only made the medal stand once this season. The Americans have been respectable with five podium finishes but Elana Meyers, sitting in eighth overall, will need to crank it up to crack the top three.
Staying in Europe for the holidays paid off for US skeletors Katie Uhlaender and Nicole Pikus-Pace, who placed 2-3 at last weekend’s World Cup race in Altenberg with Uhlaender finishing just a hundredth of a second behind Cup leader Marion Thees. It was the second medal of the season for Pikus-Pace, who took two years off after the Vancouver Games and is aiming for Sochi . . . The German lugers, who’ve already put the rest of the world in their rearview mirror on the World Cup circuit, figure to open up the gap at next weekend’s European championships on their Oberhof track and the next Cup stop in Winterberg a week later. Their men, led by Felix Loch, are 1-2-3 in the standings while the women are 1-2 with Natalie Geisenberger and Anke Wischnewski, and Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt have won all five doubles races. No medals yet for the Americans, although the sixth-place showing by Julia Clukey of Augusta, Maine, in Koenigssee last weekend was promising . . . Off the ice shortly after he’d gotten back on was US luger Christian Niccum, who tore an Achilles’ tendon last month while playing basketball. The two-time Olympian, who had back surgery in April, had just resumed training with doubles partner Jayson Terdiman and was hoping to be back on the Cup circuit in a couple of weeks. While it’s conceivable that Niccum will return for the season finale on next year’s Olympic track in Sochi, he’ll miss the world championships in Whistler, B.C., at the beginning of next month . . . Making a stir again is the US men’s biathlon team, whose fifth-place relay effort at last weekend’s World Cup stop in Germany matched its best of the modern era. On the rise, too, is Tim Burke, who’s 11th in the overall rankings after he finished 3-4-7 in three events in Slovenia last month . . . Bryan Volpenhein and Lucas McGee are the new coaches for the US men’s rowing program. Volpenhein, who stroked the eight to its breakthrough gold medal in Athens in 2004, will oversee the fours at the high performance center that he heads in Oklahoma City while McGee, a former world gold medalist and Washington’s freshman coach, will direct the eight and coordinate the under-23 program.
John Powers can be reached at email@example.com. Material from Olympic committees, sports federations, personal interviews, and wire services was used in this report.