Hanyu, Ledecká rise above it all in a year when world sport needed them - and other athletes - as salvation from scandal and cowardice

Hanyu, Ledecká rise above it all in a year when world sport needed them - and other athletes - as salvation from scandal and cowardice

In international sports, 2018 was a year of courage and cowardice and common sense in seeing through a con.

And, as usual, it was a year of athletes of all colors, backgrounds, nations, shapes and sizes rising above the inanity, craven callousness and amorality of the old, white men who run global sports.

To which one can only say this:  Thanks, Yuzuru Hanyu and Simone Biles, thanks Ester Ledecká and Chloe Kim, thanks Eliud Kipchoge and Team Shuster. . .thanks to you and more for the achievements and goodwill that made us remember that sport, for all its ugly, scandalous warts, can show humankind at its most attractive.

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As Winter Games loom, skier and skater were world's best in an odd 2017

As Winter Games loom, skier and skater were world's best in an odd 2017

The Olympic cycle, like the calendar, has odd years and even years.

The even years, like 2018, include an Olympics, in this case the Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

The odd years, like the one that just ended, are not devoid of big events in international sports.  And 2017 was full of them, but the overriding feeling was of a year that was just plain odd – and, at times, depressingly sad.

For the second annus horribilis in a row, athletes have saved Olympic sport from itself and its feckless leaders.  Celebrating their excellence is the best way to express hope for a better 2018.

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Holding your breath as Vonn chases history by skiing right on the edge of crazy (and thoughts on other things Olympic, including 2024, Nathan Chen & Evgenia Medvedeva)

Holding your breath as Vonn chases history by skiing right on the edge of crazy (and thoughts on other things Olympic, including 2024, Nathan Chen & Evgenia Medvedeva)

1.  Los Angeles has an excellent 2024 Olympic bid.  So does Paris.  So the idea of having the International Olympic Committee vote in September for both 2024 and 2028 rather than just 2024 makes absolute sense.  If both bids get to the day of reckoning in Peru, neither deserves to lose.

No one knows how the mechanics of an unprecedented IOC two-for-one deal might go.  It carries the slight risk of a huge upset if, as expected, the vote for 2028 would occur after that for 2024, because there is a third 2024 finalist, Budapest.

Sure, it is a) highly unlikely that Budapest could beat either Paris or L.A. head-to-head; and b) if Paris gets 2024, marking the centennial of its last Olympics, it is also unlikely that the IOC would choose to put two straight Summer Games in Europe (that hasn’t happened since 1948-52.)

Paris 2024 – LA 2028 is the best scenario, since it assures the Xenophobe-in-Chief will be out of office when Los Angeles is host – even if there is a chance the U.S. president who follows Trump will be equally deplorable.  (Or more deplorable, if that is possible.)

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In long term, radical change needed to reduce Olympic host burden

In long term, radical change needed to reduce Olympic host burden

If the International Olympic Committee thought the bidding process changes in its Agenda 2020 reforms would end the negativity about being a host of the Summer or Winter Games, it has been sadly mistaken.

The frightening new financial projections about the cost of the 2020 Tokyo Summer Games and Rome’s withdrawal from the 2024 race on financial grounds make it clear the IOC still has a long way to go in convincing citizens of democracies that being a host of the ever-more-bloated Olympic Games is worth the time, money and hassle.

 The italicized passage above was the opening of my Friday column, which dealt with short- and long-term solutions to a mess so bad that six of the 10 official candidates to be host of the 2022 Winter Games and 2024 Summer Games withdrew after formalizing candidatures – and another, Boston, dropped out before filing its paperwork.

In the short term – for the 2024 vote coming next September – I borrowed an idea from my colleague Alan Abrahamson, who posited that the IOC should award the next two Summer Games at the same time, with Los Angeles getting 2024 and Paris 2028.

I suggested that the order makes no difference (click here for that column).  The important thing is doubling down will give the IOC more time to sort out its future.

The long-term answer?  Dramatic changes should be considered.

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Older, wiser Lindsey Vonn finding less risk can bring more reward

Older, wiser Lindsey Vonn finding less risk can bring more reward

Three weeks ago, when Lindsey Vonn was tearing up the Alpine ski circuit and still keeping her oft-battered body intact, I spoke with her on the phone to gather information for a story to appear before the World Cup finals in mid-March.

We talked about several things.

*The loneliness of months on the road that led her to get a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppy, Lucy, now five months old, as a travel companion.

*The slow rebuilding of confidence after her two extensive knee surgeries in 2013.

*The pride she is taking in consistently winning and breaking records.

*Risk management.

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