Beijing favorite in IOC vote for 2022 Winter Olympics

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KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) -- When it comes to votes on Olympic host cities, geopolitics can play a crucial role in determining the victor.

That's likely to be the case more than ever Friday when the International Olympic Committee chooses between Beijing and Almaty, Kazakhstan, for the 2022 Winter Games.

It's a contest between China, the world's most populous nation and a rising global giant with a huge economy, against a young country and former Soviet republic in Central Asia that is hoping to establish itself as a player on the world stage.

Against that backdrop and after a low-key campaign, Beijing goes in as the favorite as it bids to become the first city to host both summer and winter games.

"The general feeling is that Almaty may do a little better than most people would have thought," IOC vice president Craig Reedie told The Associated Press on Thursday. "You have to believe the sheer weight of Chinese influence on a worldwide basis may be enough to swing them over the line."

Neither Beijing nor Almaty was given much of a chance of landing the games when the 2022 bid race opened two years ago. But they found themselves as the only two candidates left after four European cities - including Oslo and Stockholm - pulled out for political or financial reasons. Some were scared off the by the $51 billion price tag associated with the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

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Beijing 2022 Olympic Bid
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Beijing favorite in IOC vote for 2022 Winter Olympics
Members of the delegation from Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics candidate city react after the city was elected to host the 2022 Olympic Winter Games at IOC meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Friday, July 31, 2015. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian, Pool)
International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach shows the card with the name Beijing as the winning name of the 2022 Winter Olympic bid city, during the 128th International Olympic Committee (IOC) session in Kuala Lumpur on July 31, 2015. AFP PHOTO / MANAN VATSYAYANA (Photo credit should read MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP/Getty Images)
Participants celebrate following the announcement that Beijing will host the 2022 Winter Olympics at a gathering outside of the Beijing Olympic Stadium, also known as the Birds Nest, in Beijing, Friday, July 31, 2015. Beijing was selected Friday to host the 2022 Winter Olympics, becoming the first city awarded both the winter and summer games. The sign reads "Warm celebration of the successful Winter Olympics bid". (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)
Volunteers react in front of journalists a few minutes before the announcement by the International Olympic Committee voting for Beijing to host the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing on July 31, 2015. AFP PHOTO / FRED DUFOUR (Photo credit should read FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images)
People react as they watch live coverage on a large TV screen of the announcement of Beijing as the host city for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games, in Beijing on July 31, 2015. AFP PHOTO / GREG BAKER (Photo credit should read GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
Members of the Chinese delegation clap hands during the Beijing's bid presentation for the host city for the 2022 Winter Games, at the 128th International Olympic Committee session in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Friday, July 31, 2015. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian, Pool)
China's Vice Premier Liu Yandong, second left, is greeted by Wang Anshun, left, Beijing mayor and president of the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games Bid, as other members of the delegation from Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics candidate city react after Beijing was elected to host the 2022 Olympic Winter Games at IOC meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Friday, July 31, 2015. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian, Pool)
President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Thomas Bach, center, greets retired Chinese professional basketball player Yao Ming, right, during the Beijing's bid presentation for the host city for the 2022 Winter Games, at the 128th International Olympic Committee session in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Friday, July, 31, 2015. (AP Photo/Joshua Paul)
BEIJING, CHINA - JULY 31: People celebrate at Olympic Plaza as Beijing wins the bidding of 2022 Olympic Winter Games on July 31, 2015 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Xiaolu Chu/Getty Images)
Chinese policewomen wave a Chinese national flag to celebrate as Beijing is announced as the host city for the 2022 Winter Olympics at the ski resort region of Chongli where the Nordic skiing, ski jumping, and other outdoor Olympic events will be held in northern China's Hebei province Friday, July 31, 2015. Beijing was selected Friday to host the 2022 Winter Olympics, becoming the first city awarded both the winter and summer games. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
A mother celebrates with her daughter after watching the announcement of Beijing as the host city for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing on July 31, 2015. AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA - JULY 31: Vice president of the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games Bid Committee Zhang Haidi, Mayor of Beijing Wang Anshun, China's Vice Premier Liu Yandong, President of the Chinese Olympic Committee Liu Peng and members of the of the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games Bid Committee celebrate after Beijing, China was announced as the host city for the 2022 Winter Olympics during the Announcement Ceremony at the 128th IOC Session at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre on July 31, 2015 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (Photo by Olivia Harris-Pool/Getty Images)
Volunteers parade in front of journalists a few minutes before the announcement by the International Olympic Committee voting for Beijing to host the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing on July 31, 2015. AFP PHOTO / FRED DUFOUR (Photo credit should read FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images)
Children play in front of the Bird's Nest stadium in Beijing on July 30, 2015, on the eve of voting by the International Olympic Committee on the city's bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics. Beijing Olympic officials Oshrugged off questions July 27 over snow levels and spread-out venues in their 2022 Winter Games bid as they launched their final pitch in Malaysia ahead of an IOC vote this week. AFP PHOTO / FRED DUFOUR (Photo credit should read FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images)
A participant holds Chinese and Beijing 2022 flags before the announcement that Beijing will host the 2022 Winter Olympics at a gathering outside the Beijing Olympic Stadium, also known as the Birds Nest, in Beijing, Friday, July 31, 2015. Beijing was selected Friday to host the 2022 Winter Olympics, becoming the first city awarded both the winter and summer games. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)
Chinese people gather to celebrate as Beijing is announced as the host city for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games, in Zhangjiakou, in northern China's Hebei province on July 31, 2015. Zhangjiakou will co-host the Games with neighboring Beijing. CHINA OUT AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
Children play in front of the Bird's Nest stadium in Beijing on July 30, 2015, on the eve of voting by the International Olympic Committee on the city's bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics. Beijing Olympic officials Oshrugged off questions July 27 over snow levels and spread-out venues in their 2022 Winter Games bid as they launched their final pitch in Malaysia ahead of an IOC vote this week. AFP PHOTO / FRED DUFOUR (Photo credit should read FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images)
A woman poses in front of the Bird's Nest stadium in Beijing on July 30, 2015, on the eve of voting by the International Olympic Committee on the city's bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics. Beijing Olympic officials Oshrugged off questions July 27 over snow levels and spread-out venues in their 2022 Winter Games bid as they launched their final pitch in Malaysia ahead of an IOC vote this week. AFP PHOTO / FRED DUFOUR (Photo credit should read FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images)
Children play in front of the Bird's Nest stadium in Beijing on July 30, 2015, on the eve of voting by the International Olympic Committee on the city's bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics. Beijing Olympic officials Oshrugged off questions July 27 over snow levels and spread-out venues in their 2022 Winter Games bid as they launched their final pitch in Malaysia ahead of an IOC vote this week. AFP PHOTO / FRED DUFOUR (Photo credit should read FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images)
Yao Ming, retired Chinese professional basketball player smiles during a press conference for Beijing 2022 Olympic bid in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Wednesday, July 29, 2015. Malaysia is hosting the 128th International Olympic Committee executive board meeting where the vote for the host cities of the 2022 Olympic Winter Games and for the 2020 Youth Olympic Winter Games will take place. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)
Wang Hui, Spokeswomen of Beijing bid committee, answers a question during a press conference at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Monday, July, 27, 2015. Malaysia is hosting the 128th International Olympic Committee executive board meeting where the vote for the host cities of the 2022 Olympic Winter Games and for the 2020 Youth Olympic Winter Games will take place. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)
A coach guides a young Chinese girl during a freestyle skating practice session on an ice rink at a shopping mall in Beijing Sunday, July 26, 2015. China’s capital city Beijing, which hosted the 2008 Olympics, is seeking to become the first city to stage both summer and winter games. The International Olympic Committee will vote on Friday, July 31 on the host city for the 2022 Winter Games, choosing between Beijing and Almaty, Kazakhstan. The voting will take place at the IOC session in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
Hong Kong movie star Jackie Chan, sixth from left, stands with Chinese officials and music composers at a launch for Olympic Music Week on stage during the 2022 Beijing's Winter Olympics bid campaign held at a hotel in Beijing, China, Wednesday, May 27, 2015. Jackie Chan is throwing his support behind Beijing’s bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics, even recording a song "Wake Up Winter" promoting the campaign. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
In this photo taken Sunday, May 31, 2015, Chinese security personnel rest near the Olympic rings near the Bird's Nest National Stadium in Beijing. Beijing has marketed its bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics as the reliable choice, despite concerns about a lack of natural snow, notoriously bad air pollution and warnings about the government’s treatment of political dissidents and minority groups. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
A security guard checks his cellphone in front of the Beijing National Stadium, also known as the Birds Nest, as a promotional video for the proposed Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics plays on the side of the stadium in Beijing, Saturday, March 28, 2015. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) concluded a 5-day visit on Saturday to inspect Beijing's bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)
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If Friday's vote among 86 IOC members were strictly on technical merits, Almaty would have an advantage because of its winter sports history and setting, surrounded by mountain peaks covered by plenty of natural snow - hence the slogan "Keeping it Real." Almaty boasts 70 percent of venues in place and a compact layout with all venues within a 30-kilometer (18-mile) radius.

"We have a lot of challenges in Kazakhstan," Prime Minister Karim Massimov said. "But snow is our advantage."

Beijing would use several venues from the 2008 Summer Olympics, including the "Bird's Nest" stadium and "Water Cube" arena.

"Legacy is everything," former NBA star and Beijing bid team member Yao Ming said. "Beijing 2008 allowed us to experience the Olympic spirit, and 2022 gives us a chance to carry on the spirit."

Beijing's mountain events would be held at venues in Yanqing and Zhangjiakou, 60 and 140 kilometers (40 and 90 miles) away from the city. A planned high-speed rail line to Zhangjiakou is designed to cut travel time to 50 minutes.

In contrast to Almaty, Beijing would rely heavily on artificial snow. Chinese officials said they have plenty of water supplies and snow-making equipment to provide excellent conditions.

Weighing in Beijing's favor is the IOC's familiarity with China from the 2008 Games and trust that the Chinese can deliver. China's pitch to develop winter sports to a market of more than 300 million people in northern China also resonates with the IOC, as does the country's political and economic stability. Lesser familiar Kazakhstan, whose 75-year-old president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, has been in power since 1989, is seen as more of a risk by many IOC members.

Both countries have been criticized for their human rights records. Watchdog groups have called on the IOC to ensure that the winning bid upholds new clauses in the host city contract on non-discrimination and protection of rights during the games. However, IOC President Thomas Bach said Thursday the provisions could only be enforced "in the context of the Olympic Games."

"The IOC has to respect the laws of sovereign states," he said the opening ceremony of the body's 128th session. "The IOC is not a world government."

IOC votes can be unpredictable, as members vote often for individual reasons. This is especially the case when it comes to the Winter Games, as a majority of the members have little connection with winter sports. Many members are more interested in the race for the 2024 Summer Games.

Almaty is bidding for a second time, but this is the first time it made it to the vote after being cut in the preliminary stage for the 2014 Games. Securing the Olympics would represent a major step in raising its global profile.

"In the international arena, we can place Kazakhstan on the map and place Almaty on the international sports map," Massimov, the prime minister, told a small group of reporters. "Twenty-five years ago we were part of the Soviet Union. We had a different image. We want to change the image. We want the international audience to understand better what we are doing and where we heading in the future."

LOOKING BACK AT SOCHI

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A look back on the Sochi Olympics
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Beijing favorite in IOC vote for 2022 Winter Olympics
A member of Russian honor guard listens to the Olympic Anthem during a welcome ceremony for the German Olympic team at the Mountain Olympic Village prior to the 2014 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Members of the Italian team cheer as they enter the stadium during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Friday, Feb. 7, 2014. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Russian tennis player Maria Sharapova carries the Olympic torch during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Friday, Feb. 7, 2014. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 07: Snowflakes transform into four Olympic rings with one failing to form during the Opening Ceremony of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Fisht Olympic Stadium on February 7, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
Fireworks are seen over the Olympic Park during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Friday, Feb. 7, 2014. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Members of the Slovenian Cross-country ski team ski in front of Olympic rings at Laura Cross-country Ski & Biathlon Center of the 2014 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Gero Breloer)
Speedskaters from Russia train at the Adler Arena Skating Center during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)
Stefania Berton and Ondrej Hotarek of Italy compete in the team pairs short program figure skating competition at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the 2014 Winter Olympics, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
Czech Republic's Sarka Pancochova takes a jump during the women's snowboard slopestyle qualifying at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Kate Hansen of the United States prepares to start a run during the women's singles luge training at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)
Sweden's Niklas Mattsson finishes his first run during men's snowboard slopestyle qualifying at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
Goalkeeper Jennifer Harss of Germany reaches for the puck as Johanna Olofsson's of Sweden shot get by her for a goal during the third period of women's ice game at Shayba Arean during the 2014 Winter Olympics, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Mark Blinch, Pool)
Charles Hamelin of Canada celebrates winning the men's 1500m short track speedskating final at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the 2014 Winter Olympics, Monday, Feb. 10, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 11: Shaun White of the United States crashes out in the Snowboard Men's Halfpipe Finals on day four of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park on February 11, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
Silver medallist Jan Smeekens of the Netherlands pulls his hair after completing his second heat for the men's 500-meter speedskating race at the Adler Arena Skating Center at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Monday, Feb. 10, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Devin Logan of the United States takes a jump during the women's freestyle skiing slopestyle qualifying at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 08: Qingshuang Yue of China during curling training on day 1 of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at the Ice Cube on February 8, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Gold medallist Michel Mulder from the Netherlands clenches his fist after his second heat race in the men's 500-meter speedskating race at the Adler Arena Skating Center during the 2014 Winter Olympics, Monday, Feb. 10, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Erin Hamlin of the United States hugs her parents Ron and Eileen Hamlin after the flower ceremony during the women's singles luge competition at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. Hamlin won the bronze medal. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)
Shani Davis of the U.S. takes a breather after competing in the men's 1,000-meter speedskating race at the Adler Arena Skating Center during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Sweden defenseman Erik Karlsson (65) loses his footing as he passes the puck from Czech Republic forward Martin Erat in the first period of a men's ice hockey game at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 08: Ashley Wagner of the United States reacts to her score after competing in the Figure Skating Team Ladies Short Program during day one of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Iceberg Skating Palace on February 8, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Darren Cummings/Pool/Getty Images)
France's Marie Marchand-Arvier crashes into safety netting during the women's downhill at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Switzerland's Dominique Gisin reacts after finishing the women's downhill the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. She tied for first place with Slovenia's Tina Maze to win the gold medal.(AP Photo/Gero Breloer)
A referee signals a goal as Slovenia goaltender Robert Kristan lays on the ice after Russia defenseman Anton Belov scored in the third period of a men's ice hockey game at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. Russia won 5-2.(AP Photo/Mark Humphrey )
Katharine Eustace of New Zealand is met by her coach after her final run during the women's skeleton competition at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Friday, Feb. 14, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)
Norway’s skip Thomas Ulsrud, center, shouts to his sweepers Haavard Vad Petersson, left, and Christoffer Svae after delivering the rock during the men's curling competition against Sweden at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
Women's downhill medalists, from left, Slovenia's Tina Maze and Switzerland's Dominique Gisin, who tied for the gold, and Switzerland's Lara Gut, who finished third for the bronze, pose with their medals at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Latvia defenseman Sandis Ozolins collides with Czech Republic forward Milan Michalek in the third period of a men's ice hockey game at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Friday, Feb. 14, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Li Jianrou of China celebrates winning the women's 500m short track speedskating final at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the 2014 Winter Olympics, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
USA forward T.J. Oshie prepares to take a shot against Russia goaltender Sergei Bobrovski in an overtime shootout during a men's ice hockey game at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. Oshie scored the winning goal and the USA won 3-2. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Kamil Aizetulin gets his face painted in the colors of the Russian flag during a women's ski cross seeding run at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, the 2014 Winter Olympics, Friday, Feb. 21, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
China's Wu Chao jumps during men's freestyle skiing aerials training at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 08: Team Canada talk before thre game prior to the Women's Ice Hockey Preliminary Round Group A Game against Switzerland on day 1 of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Shayba Arena on February 8, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images)
Mao Asada of Japan competes in the women's free skate figure skating finals at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the 2014 Winter Olympics, Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Members of Team Sweden and Team Finland mix it up during the 2014 Winter Olympics women's quarterfinal ice hockey game at Shayba Arena, Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Men's super-G joint bronze medal winner Bode Miller of the United States is consoled by his wife, Morgan, at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
Russia forward Pavel Datsyuk reacts after scoring a goal against the USA in the second period of a men's ice hockey game at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Sweden's Lars Nelson skis past a hole in the snow during the men's 4x10K cross-country relay at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
Unidentified athletes ski through the fog as the men's biathlon 15K mass start race has been postponed due to the lack of visibility at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
Russia defenseman Yevgeni Medvedev and USA forward Ryan Callahan shove each other in the first period of a men's ice hockey game at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 15: Kamil Stoch of Poland jumps during the Men`s Large Hill Individual 1st Round on day 8 of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at RusSki Gorki Jumping Center on February 15, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)
Germany's Andreas Wank, left, hugs huis teammates after winning the gold during the ski jumping large hill team competition at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Monday, Feb. 17, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)
Martina Sablikova of the Czech Republic skates her way to gold in the women's 5,000-meter speedskating race at the Adler Arena Skating Center during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
New Zealand's Beau-James Wells gets air during the men's ski halfpipe final at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 12: Eric Frenzel of Germany celebrates as he wins the gold medal during the Nordic Combined Individual Gundersen Normal Hill and 10km Cross Country on day 5 of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at the RusSki Gorki Nordic Combined Skiing Stadium on February 12, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)
USA goaltender Jonathan Quick catches a shot on the goal during the first period of men's quarterfinal hockey game against the Czech Republic in Shayba Arena at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 14: Hansin Lee of South Korea starts a run during the Men's Skeleton heats on Day 7 of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Sliding Center Sanki on February 14, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 21: Krystyna Palka of Poland competes during the Women's 4 x 6 km Relay during day 14 of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Laura Cross-country Ski & Biathlon Center on February 21, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)
SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 07: Jo Alexander Koppang of Norway in the Luge during a training session ahead of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at the Sanki Sliding Center on February 7, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Norway's Tora Berger shoots during the mixed biathlon relay at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
Polina Edmunds of the United States competes in the women's short program figure skating competition at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the 2014 Winter Olympics, Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)
Belarus' Nadezhda Skardino skis during a women's biathlon training session at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
Sweden goaltender Henrik Lundqvist blocks a shot by Finland during the third period of a men's semifinal ice hockey game at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Friday, Feb. 21, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 13: Elise Christie of Great Britain (C) falls and collides with Seung-Hi Park of South Korea (L) and Arianna Fontana of Italy (R) as she competes in the Short Track Speed Skating Ladies' 500 m Final on day 6 of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at at Iceberg Skating Palace on February 13, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)
SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 15: Anna Fenninger of Austria in action during the Alpine Skiing Women's Super-G on day 8 of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Rosa Khutor Alpine Center on February 15, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Carolina Kostner of Italy casts a shadow as she begins her routine in the figure skating exhibition gala at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the 2014 Winter Olympics, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)
Russia's gold medal winner Alexander Legkov, Russia's bronze medal winner Ilia Chernousov and Russia's silver medal winner Maxim Vylegzhanin, from right, rest in the finish area after the men's 50K cross-country race at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)
SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 09: Sarah Hendrickson of the United States jumps during the Ladies' Normal Hill Individual Ski Jumping training on day 2 of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at RusSki Gorki Jumping Center on February 9, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
Canada's Justine Dufour-Lapointe, right, is congratulated by her sister, Chloe, after taking first place in the women's moguls final at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. Justine won the gold medal and Chloe took the silver. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 14: Lydia Lassila of Australia practices before the Freestyle Skiing Ladies' Aerials Qualification on day seven of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park on February 14, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 21: (L-R) Fanny Smith of Switzerland, Anna Holmlund of Sweden, Katrin Ofner of Austria and Kelsey Serwa of Canada compete in the Freestyle Skiing Womens' Ski Cross Semi Finals on day 14 of the 2014 Winter Olympics at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park on February 21, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 12: Gold medalist Eric Frenzel of Germany jumps in celebration alongside silver medalist Akito Watabe of Japan (L) and bronze medalist Magnus Krog of Norway (R) during the flower ceremony for the Men?s Nordic Combined Individual Gundersen Normal Hill and 10km Cross Country on day 5 of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at the RusSki Gorki Nordic Combined Skiing Stadium on February 12, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 14: Lydia Lassila of Australia competes in the Freestyle Skiing Ladies' Aerials Qualification on day seven of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park on February 14, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 22: Sami Vatanen #45 and Tuomo Ruutu #15 of Finland celebrate with teammates after defeating the United States 5-0 during the Men's Ice Hockey Bronze Medal Game on Day 15 of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics at Bolshoy Ice Dome on February 22, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images)
Bronze medalist Amelie Kober, from left, of Germany silver medalist Anke Karstens, also of Germany,and gold medalist Julia Dujmovits, of Austria, take pictures after their flower ceremony for the women's snowboard parallel slalom at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
(From L) Canada's gold medallists Duncan Keith, goalkeeper Carey Price and Jonathan Toews celebrate during the Men's Ice Hockey Medal Ceremony at the Bolshoy Ice Dome during the Sochi Winter Olympics on February 23, 2014. AFP PHOTO / JONATHAN NACKSTRAND (Photo credit should read JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP/Getty Images)
The team from France FRA-1, with Loic Costerg, Romain Heinrich, Florent Ribet and Elly Lefort, react after their final run during the men's four-man bobsled competition final at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)
Women's slalom gold medal winner Mikaela Shiffrin of the United States steps off of the podium after a flower ceremony at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, Friday, Feb. 21, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Gero Breloer)
Fireworks explode over Olympic Park at the end of the closing ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)
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