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The newest International Olympic Committee member from the United States has business ties to Salt Lake City and a history of boosting Utah's efforts to host the Winter Games.

Jim Easton, chairman and president of Jas. D. Easton Inc., was elected to the IOC last week, becoming the United States' second representative on the committee. The other is Anita DeFrantz, a former Olympian from Los Angeles.Easton, also from Los Angeles, was on the organizing committee for the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles and is president of the International Archery Federation.

He said last week he concurs with media reports labeling Salt Lake City as the front-runner among the nine cities bidding for the 2002 Winter Olympics. However, he said, that is not necessarily the best position.

"I think it's certainly a difficult place to be in, exposed, with everyone out to come after you."

He said if the IOC considers only the technical merits of the nine cities, Salt Lake's bid - which includes winter sports facilities either already built or in the planning stages - would be difficult to beat.

But geographic balance, which hurt Salt Lake in the bidding for the 1998 Games, could still play against Utah, he said.

Easton has two manufacturing operations in Salt Lake: One makes aluminum ski poles, tent tubing and arrow shafts and the other manufactures bows.