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U.S. bid for 2022 Winter Olympics goes under

Tahoe area was in running for 2022 site
By: Amber Marra, Journal Staff Writer
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Any hope of the 2022 Winter Olympics being held at Squaw Valley were quashed Tuesday afternoon after the U.S. Olympic Committee decided it will hold off on placing a bid for the games until 2024 or 2026.

Andy Wirth, Squaw Valley CEO, has been interim chairman of the Lake Tahoe Winter Games Exploratory Committee. The committee consists of civic leaders from both Nevada and California who want to bring the Winter Olympics back to the Lake Tahoe area.

The 2014 Winter Olympics are set for Sochi, Russia. The games were last held at Squaw Valley in 1960.

Wirth said in a press release that he hopes the U.S. Olympic Committee will place a bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics.

"The Lake Tahoe Region is one of America's greatest natural gems, and we believe that its place as a Winter sports destination remains unparalleled," Wirth said in the release. "While the USOC has chosen not to pursue the 2022 Winter Olympics, I believe, as does our board of directors, that we have laid the groundwork for a return of the Olympic Flame to this region and to our very own Olympic Valley in the future."

Along with the Lake Tahoe area, similar efforts for Olympic sites had surfaced in Denver and Salt Lake City.

According to the U.S. Olympic Committee's website, the board decided not to place a bid for the 2022 Winter Games because more time is desired. Bids for the 2022 games are due in 2013.

The committee ultimately decided to put together a group of members that will dedicate time specifically to the possibility of the U.S. hosting the Olympics in either 2024 or 2026.

The decision comes days after five Olympians said they would support the Lake Tahoe Winter Games Exploratory Committee. Those Olympians were Andy Gabel, a speed skater; Bret Hedican, an ice hockey player; Kristi Yamaguchi, a figure skater; and Jonny Moseley and Tamara McKinney, of the U.S. Ski Team.

"We have always understood that our efforts were contingent upon the USOC's determination about whether or not to pursue a bid," Wirth said in the release. "In light of the decision announced today by the leadership of the USOC, we respect our nation's Olympic Committee and their decisions, without reservation."

Before the committee's decision was announced on Tuesday, Christy Jay, co-owner of Atown Bikes, was excited about the prospect of the Olympics coming back to Placer County, especially for the potential impact for local businesses.

"It's a great idea. We need it and we definitely could handle it," Jay said.

Rebecca Martinez, of Colfax, said bringing the Olympics back to Squaw Valley would be positive for the local economy; there would probably be some costs involved.

"It would probably cost a lot of money for Placer County, but we also stand to make a lot of money and we would be left with all of these infrastructure improvements," Martinez said.

For others who have lived in Auburn their entire lives, bringing the Olympics to Placer County would mean a boost for local businesses and for local pride.

Giavanna Scicluna, a stylist with 979 Hair Design, said she would love for the games to come back to the area.

"I'd be more excited to live here than I already am," she said.

Contact Amber Marra at amberm@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @Amber_AJNews.