The one BIG reason why L.A. has the better 2024 Olympic bid

The one BIG reason why L.A. has the better 2024 Olympic bid

Los Angeles has a significantly better bid than that of Paris for the 2024 Olympics.

In fact, the L.A. plan looks like the best all-around candidature, especially in its fiscal planning, from a city in a democratic nation during my 30 years of covering these bids.  Los Angeles bid leaders began with a lot of advantages in terms of existing or soon-to-be-built venues and have been smart enough to make the most of them.

The 1984 Los Angeles Summer Games saved the International Olympic Committee financially.  A 2024 Los Angeles Summer Games could have a similarly profound impact on the IOC’s ability to attract future bidders.

So there, I’ve said it.

And the reason why?

It comes from just one huge difference in the two strong bids, the difference that should mean the most to the International Olympic Committee at a time when almost no city in a democratic nation wants to be host of an Olympic Games, summer or winter, because of the financial peril involved.  (Latest in a long list of recent dropouts:  Stockholm, a wondrous city, as a potential candidate for the 2026 Winter Olympics.)

What truly separates Los Angeles from Paris is the U.S. candidate does not have to build an Olympic Village, a high-risk investment (ask Vancouver 2010 or London 2012).

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For Evgenia Medvedeva, the numbers add up to amazing

For Evgenia Medvedeva, the numbers add up to amazing

Like it or not, contemporary figure skating is a numbers game.

And Russia’s Evgenia Medvedeva has played it better the past two seasons than anyone else in the 14 seasons since the sport’s judging system was changed into something only an accountant with a computer can really love.

Now that the curtain has come down on the final act of the sport’s 2016-17 season, the recent World Team Trophy in Japan, it is worth taking a look at just how remarkable Medvedeva’s numbers have been as she became the first woman to win back-to-back world titles since Michelle Kwan in 2001 -- and, next season, the overwhelming Olympic women's singles favorite.

No matter what one thinks of the choreographic content or themes of her competition programs, (I really liked both in 2015-16 but found what she did this season a bit repetitive in gestures and emotions and generally less appealing), the overall quality of her performances in her first two seasons at the international senior level has simply been stunning.

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Asada's legacy of grace and grit will last forever.

Asada's legacy of grace and grit will last forever.

Whenever I saw Mao Asada skate well, which she did often, I was reminded of the second line in one of the most famous arias in the operatic canon, "La Donna è Mobile," from Verdi's Rigoletto.

When you get past the trope of the aria's title and opening verse, which scoffs at women for being flighty, you come to the nature of the flight: "qual piuma al vento" -- like a feather in the wind.

That is the best description for the way Asada moved on the ice, even in the later years of her career, when she added the mature elegance of a woman in her mid-20s to the jump that had separated her from nearly every other woman in the sport over the length of that career.

She became lighter than air.

That is how I will remember Asada, who announced her retirement Monday at the age of 26. The timing was a surprise, even if her struggling performances and knee problems over the past two seasons made it clear the time had come.

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Ten observations from the 2016-17 figure skating season

Ten observations from the 2016-17 figure skating season

Here are 10 random observations about the figure skating season following its biggest event, the 2017 World Championships in Helsinki:

1. Yuzuru Hanyu can look erratic, both painfully and delightfully so.

Even with that, the Japanese star is exceptional enough to have achieved consistently brilliant results in the past four seasons.

Olympic gold. Two world titles. Two world silvers. An unmatched four straight Grand Prix Final victories by a singles skater. Highest scores ever in the short program and free skate, and over a competition. A fan base in his own country and across the world that, thanks to social media, may be the largest in the sport's history.

And imagine what his record would be had he not lost leads after the short program at the 2015 and 2016 World Championships.

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My Five takeaways from 2017 World Championships

My Five takeaways from 2017 World Championships

HELSINKI, Finland -- With the 2017 World Figure Skating Championships in the rearview mirror, here are my five takeaways from an eventful week in Helsinki, Finland.

1. This time around, Ashley Wagner should have no margin for error based on past performance when it comes to the Olympic selection process: She either finishes in the top three at next year's U.S. championships or stays home.

In 2014, the procedure provided ample justification for U.S. Figure Skating to pick Wagner, even though she finished fourth in Boston -- including a fifth-place showing in the free skate.

The uproar over third-place Mirai Nagasu being overlooked was emotional rather than rational because few were aware of the criteria then in place.

Wagner, a three-time U.S. champion, understood the situation was different after her poor free skate Friday jeopardized the United States' chances of getting three ladies spots in South Korea next February.

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