Salt Lake City may bid for ’22 - with a catch
A decade after it hosted the Winter Games, Salt Lake City is looking for a reprise a decade from now.
“We’ve proved to the world we can do it and do it better than anybody else,’’ Utah governor Gary Herbert declared recently after an exploratory committee was formed. “The question is: should we do it in 2022?’’
Landing the Olympics again won’t be easy. Denver and Reno-Tahoe already are interested and the International Olympic Committee only has tapped three winter sites twice - Lake Placid (1932, ’80), St. Moritz (1928, ’48), and Innsbruck in an emergency (1964, ’76).
Salt Lake clearly is the best American option, since it staged a remarkably successful Games and can use all of the same venues.
The hangup for all of the 2022 hopefuls is that the IOC and USOC still haven’t resolved their revenue-sharing dispute and the domestic committee won’t bid for any Olympics until they have. Meanwhile the clock is ticking - the USOC would have to nominate a candidate next year.
Vonn: Full speed ahead
Though she came up empty in Andorra over the weekend Lindsey Vonn still is on track to reclaim her World Cup Alpine title. With five speed races remaining, including next weekend’s Olympic test downhill in Sochi, Vonn leads Slovenia’s Tina Maze by a whopping 410 points . . . While most skiers are giving thumbs-up to Sochi’s men’s downhill slope for the 2014 Games (“Magnificent,’’ declared four-time World Cup champ Didier Cuche), Bode Miller is uncharmed by the long and twisty run. “It would be an epic super G,’’ allowed Miller, who missed a medal by just two-hundredths of a second at last week’s downhill test event there . . . Ashley Wagner’s upset victory over two-time world champion Mao Asada at last weekend’s Four Continents figure skating championships in Colorado Springs, the first by an American woman in five years, bodes well for a podium place at next month’s world championships in Nice where the new domestic queen will be bidding to be the first US medalist in a non-Olympic year since Sasha Cohen won silver in 2005. Ross Miner’s men’s bronze was a nice consolation prize for the Watertown resident, who just missed making the world team again . . . Evgeni Plushenko, who won both the Russian title and his seventh European crown this winter as part of his comeback bid for 2014, won’t try to regain his global crown. The three-time champion is having knee surgery in April to make sure he’s good to go in the pre-Olympic year.
Both defending champions were unseated at the world sprint speedskating championships in Calgary, where Christine Nesbitt lost her crown on home ice despite setting a world record in the 1,000 meters (1:12.68). China’s Yu Jing, who set a global mark in the 500 (36.94), was the 11th women’s champion in as many years while Stefan Groothuis became the first Dutchman to win since Erben Wennemars in 2005. No medals for the Americans - former titlist Shani Davis, last year’s bronze medalist, finished fifth while Heather Richardson was sixth. Davis, who won the 1,500 at Sunday’s World Cup event in Norway, will have another chance at this weekend’s world all-around championships, where he won the title in 2006 . . . With no chance to win the World Cup bobsled title, Olympic champion Steve Holcomb skipped the last two events to focus on reclaiming his world four-man crown later this month on the Lake Placid track where his 2009 victory set the stage for his historic gold medal in Vancouver. With two-time silver medalist Shauna Rohbock retired, the US women will have a tough task outracing the Germans, who could own the podium. On the skeleton side, newly minted Cup champion Shelley Rudman will bid to become the first British women’s winner while Latvia’s Martins Dukurs looks to retain his men’s title . . . Geoffrey Mutai won’t only be defending his Boston Marathon crown on Patriots Day, he’ll also be running for a place at Olympus. Mutai, who set a world best of 2 hours, 3 minutes, 2 seconds here last year, is one of six contenders being considered for Kenya’s three-man team. Four of the others - world record-holder Patrick Makau, world champion Abel Kirui, Emmanuel Mutai, and Wilson Kipsang - will trade elbows a week later in London while Moses Mosop, last year’s Boston runnerup, will be in Rotterdam going for a world record. The six female contenders include world champion Edna Kiplagat, Florence Kiplagat, Mary Keitany, Priscah Jeptoo, Lydia Cheromei, and Sharon Cherop, who’ll be in Boston.
Huge in the luge
As expected, the Germans cleaned up at last weekend’s world luge championships on their Altenberg home facility with Tatjana Huefner coming from behind to win her fourth women’s title and Felix Loch his third men’s in addition to a mixed-relay triumph. The Americans predictably were left well up the track as former champion Erin Hamlin placed 12th, Chris Mazdzer 22d, and the double of Christian Niccum-Jayson Terdiman 11th . . . The US men’s biathlon team made history last week in Finland when all four entrants cracked the top 16 in the sprint, with Lowell Bailey and Russell Currier placing fifth and sixth. The Americans, who rank eighth in the Nation Cup, clearly have come out of the woods . . . The US men’s curlers won’t have to worry about a samba speed bump on their way to next month’s world championships in Switzerland. After losing their coach, the Brazilians decided not to challenge the Yanks for the second regional berth behind Canada, as they had twice before.
Getting their kicks
The US women’s soccer team, which had to struggle to qualify for last year’s World Cup, was beyond dominant in the recent Olympic qualifying tournament in Vancouver, cannonading the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Mexico, Costa Rica, and Canada by a 38-0 aggregate. The 4-0 decision over the Mexicans was particularly sweet since it was a shock loss to their southern neighbors that required the Americans to win a playoff with Italy to make the Cup field. It was only fitting that Abby Wambach scored half a dozen goals, two of them in the 4-0 triumph over the hosts in the final. The Americans’ top gun broke her leg in an exhibition match three weeks before the Beijing Games, where her teammates won the gold medal. All but the Oceania representative has been determined for the 12-team field, which includes Canada, Great Britain, Sweden, France, Brazil, Colombia, South Africa, Cameroon, Japan, and North Korea. The most notable absentee will be Germany, which earned bronze at the last three Games . . . The US men’s soccer team’s Texas tuneup with Mexico at the end of the month could be a preview of next month’s Olympic qualifying tournament, where the regional archrivals will battle for a London ticket if they meet in the Kansas semifinals. The Americans, who need to make the final to make it to the Games for the seventh time in eight quadrennia, will face Canada, Cuba, and El Salvador in the prelims, while Los Tricolores are grouped with 2008 qualifier Honduras, Panama, and Trinidad & Tobago.
Granted, he hadn’t competed since he broke his hand at the 2008 national championships and he’d only been training for eight months after tearing up a shoulder, but Paul Hamm’s re-entry at the recent Winter Cup Challenge in Las Vegas was far from pretty. The former Olympic champion, who didn’t even finish in the top 45 after falling off the pommel horse in the prelims, conceded that his performance was “definitely in the D range.’’ Meanwhile Hamm has a court date next week in Columbus, where he’s up on charges for allegedly assaulting a cab driver while he was drunk . . . The US men’s field hockey team, depleted by retirements, injuries, and job conflicts, has pulled out of this week’s Olympic qualifying tournament in New Delhi rather than throw its promising juniors to the wolves. The Americans, who haven’t competed in an overseas Games since 1956, will focus on the new World League, which largely will determine the field for 2016 . . . Nine gold medalists are among the 21 finalists for the Olympic women’s team announced Monday by USA Basketball. In addition to Sue Bird, Tamika Catchings, and Diana Taurasi, who were on both the 2004 and 2008 squads, the group includes Swin Cash, who played for the Athens titlists, and Seimone Augustus, Sylvia Fowles, Kara Lawson, Candace Parker, and Cappie Pondexter, who won the title in Bejing. All 12 members of the 2010 world champion team are on the list, as is Baylor’s Brittney Griner, who would be the first collegian since 1988 to play on the Olympic team.
John Powers can be reached at email@example.com; material from Olympic committees, sports federations, and wire services was used in this report.