<B>By SARA NESBITT</B> <FONT SIZE=-1><I>Staff Reporter</I></FONT>

With the exit of United States Olympic Committee President Bill Hybl in the coming year, two candidates are emerging as front-runners for the job.

They are Sandy Baldwin, a real estate agent from Phoenix, Ariz., and Paul George, an attorney from Boston. Neither could be reached for comment before press time.

Hybl said that both are currently vice presidents in the USOC’s six-member team of officers, and “great candidates” for the top job, but said the process of nominating them for the top slot at the USOC will take some time. There are three vice presidents in the team of officers, which also includes the president, the secretary and the treasurer. All are volunteer positions, and must be elected.

Baldwin has been a board member of the USOC since 1985. She was USOC Treasurer for the last four years, and has served on numerous USOC committees. She was also president of USA Shooting from 1994 to 1995 and president of USA Swimming from 1984 to 1986. Baldwin attended the University of Colorado, where she received a bachelor’s degree in English.

George was the U.S. Figure Skating Association representative to the USOC from 1989 to 1994. From 1994 to 1996 he served on the USOC board of directors for USA Hockey. He was a national junior pair skating champion and Eastern U.S. senior pair skating champion in 1962.

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Hybl said the first step is for a committee made up of members from six national governing sports bodies — such as USA Hockey or USA Figure Skating — to analyze the candidates. Two athletes will also look at the pair’s qualifications, as will two community-based members in Colorado Springs who will be identified soon. Hybl said the USOC would hire the new president by December.

Another new face will begin work at the USOC on Feb. 14. Norman Blake, former CEO of Promus Hotels and USF&amp;G Insurance, will step into the newly created position of CEO and secretary general. Promus Hotels includes the Embassy Suites, Hampton Inns, Doubletree, Homewood Suites and Red Lion Inns brands.

“He has a proven track record of excellent business acumen, financial experience and marketing know-how,” Hybl said of Blake.

Last September, USOC officials decided to combine some of the powers of both the president and the executive director. Instead of having an executive director, the upper tier of management has been reorganized to function more like a business with a CEO and a board of directors that helps make decisions.

Blake is taking the place of Dick Schultz, currently the executive director who announced last September that he would retire.

Schultz, who is also president of the board of the Olympic Properties of the United States, will remain on that board even after he steps down from the executive director position. He plans to remain on the properties board through the Sydney Olympics, which are scheduled for next year. OPUS is the money-making wing of the Olympic Committee, and Schultz said last fall that the organization had raised about $860 million for upcoming games.

OPUS brings in big names like General Motors, AT&amp;T, Texaco and Budweiser, which contribute to the games via national sponsorships.