Sir Craig Reedie, chairman of the IOC Evaluation Commission, arrives at Tokyo's Narita International Airport to begin a four-day review of its bid for the 2020  Games // Photo Shugo Takemi, courtesy Tokyo 2020 Bid Committe

Sir Craig Reedie, chairman of the IOC Evaluation Commission, arrives at Tokyo's Narita International Airport to begin a four-day review of its bid for the 2020 Games // Photo Shugo Takemi, courtesy Tokyo 2020 Bid Committe

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Big-picture IOC thinking in this election year

Sir Craig Reedie, an International Olympic Committee vice-president, got the full red-carpet welcome Friday at Tokyo’s Narita International Airport.

Photographers happily caught Tokyo Gov. Naoki Inose introducing his wife, Yuriko, to Sir Craig. In another shot, Sir Craig was seen bounding along Narita’s walkways with a bouquet of welcoming flowers, a perfect tableau to set the stage for the IOC evaluation commission’s four-day inspection of Tokyo’s plan to host the 2020 Games.

Mikaela Shiffrin joins in at the closing ceremony of the 2013 world championships // photo courtesy Tom Kelly and U.S. Ski Team

Mikaela Shiffrin joins in at the closing ceremony of the 2013 world championships // photo courtesy Tom Kelly and U.S. Ski Team

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U.S. Ski Team: on its game

There once was a time when the Europeans scoffed at the U.S. Ski Team.

The Americans have the icy low hills back east and the amazing Rocky Mountains, Sierras and Cascades out west, and yet every winter the Americans would roll into the World Cup tour and maybe there would be the occasional breakthrough — Phil and Steve Mahre in the 1980s, for instance — but not the sort of consistent, across-the-board dimension that would make the Euros, the Austrians in particular, snap to and say, whoa, the Americans are so for real.