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The 2014 Winter Olympics get underway February 7 in Sochi, Russia. More than 85 nations will be represented this year, and some of the athletes who will compete come from Idaho.Over the coming weeks, we’ll introduce you to some of these Idaho Olympians. You'll meet an ice hockey forward from Sun Valley to a woman making her bid for the U.S. Virgin Islands’ ski team.You’ll find our Olympics coverage ahead of the games and during, along with stories from NPR’s team of reporters, right here on this page.Plus, connect with Idaho's Olympic athletes on Twitter.

Mountain West Cities Go Head-To-Head For Winter Olympics Bid

Doug Mills
Associated Press
This Feb. 8, 2002 file photo shows U.S. champion Michelle Kwan practicing for the women's short program for the Winter Olympic Games at the Salt Lake Ice Center in Salt Lake City.

Salt Lake City and Denver are the last two American cities vying for the 2030 Winter Olympic Games.

Earlier this week, Reno and Lake Tahoe shelved their joint bid for the 2030 Winter Olympic Games. They said it wasn’t financially viable.

Rob Ruck, a sports history professor at University of Pittsburgh says both Salt Lake and Denver could avoid the pitfalls of recent host cities that have left vacant stadiums and displaced marginalized communities.

“It would strike me that they would have the capacity to hold games and do much less damage than a lot of cities and countries would have,” Ruck says.

Both metro areas have experienced explosive growth over the past few years and are close to popular winter recreation areas.

Ruck says both cities could pull in enough major sponsors and advertisers to lock down a bid.

“The International Olympic Committee is driven by the bottom line,” he says.

Salt Lake hosted the 2002 winter games -- even after accusations of officials bribing Olympic committee members came to light.

The IOC clamped down on travel to bidding cities to try to limit this type of corruption, but Ruck says it’s still around in international sports.

“I don’t think it’s been adequately dealt with anymore than questions of abuse have been dealt with in a lot of U.S. sporting organizations.”

Denver also has a contentious past with the Winter Olympic Games.

Four decades ago, Colorado voters overwhelmingly approved an amendment to the state Constitution to ban taxpayer dollars paying for any part of the Mile High City’s bid for the 1976 games.

Lillehammer, Norway hosted the Winter Olympics in 1994 and is also considering a bid for 2030.

Copyright 2018 Boise State Public Radio

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, Yellowstone Public Radio in Montana, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.

I cover politics and a bit of everything else for Boise State Public Radio. Outside of public meetings, you can find me fly fishing, making cool things out of leather or watching the Seattle Mariners' latest rebuilding season. If you have a tip, please get in touch!

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