The IOC's Evaluation Commission gave high marks yesterday to Salt Lake City and Quebec as they emerged as the front runners in the nine-city race for the 2002 Winter Games. An IOC report evaluating each city's bid praised Salt Lake for "it's excellent financial plan, information technology network and media facilities." The report did not rate the candidates, but Salt Lake was given the highest praise. Quebec was cited for its financial plan, indoor facilities, and strong environmental protection attitude (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 12/21). Ostersund, Sweden, was given good marks, but there were questions regarding security and the environmental impact of the bobsled track. Graz, Austria, also considered a final four contender, was seen as having problems with the financial plan. Salt Lake Mayor Dee Dee Corradini: "We knew all along we had a very strong bid." The field will be narrowed to four candidates on January 24, with the final vote June 16 (Mike Dodd, USA TODAY, 12/21).