U.S. hockey player Angela Ruggiero was appointed by the International Olympic Committee to a panel that will inspect the three cities competing to host the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Ruggiero is among four Americans selected to the 11-member evaluation commission on Monday, signaling an increasing U.S. influence in the IOC.

The other Americans serving on the panel are Dwight Bell, representing the Association of International Olympic Winter Games Federations; Ann Cody, a member of the International Paralympic Committee; and Grant Thomas, an expert in infrastructure.

Ruggiero is a four-time Olympic medalist and graduated from Harvard in 2004 with a degree in government. She joins the evaluation commission after being elected to the IOC as an athlete representative.

The panel will visit 2018 candidates Munich; Annecy, France; and Pyeongchang, South Korea, between Feb. 8 and March 5.

Swedish Olympic official Gunilla Lindberg will lead the panel. Lindberg was an IOC vice president from 2004-08 and secretary general of Sweden's national Olympic committee.

"Ms. Lindberg has extensive knowledge of what it takes to host an Olympic Games, in particular a Winter Games," IOC president Jacques Rogge said in a statement.

The reports will be published when city officials meet IOC members in May in Lausanne, Switzerland.

IOC members will elect the 2018 host on July 6 in Durban, South Africa.

The appointments are a sign of harmony between the IOC and the United States after years of strained relations. Last week, the U.S. Olympic Committee agreed to contribute $18 million toward the administrative costs of the games, the first step to a possible new revenue-sharing agreement with the IOC.

Also on the 2018 panel: IOC Olympic games executive director Gilbert Felli; IOC member Barry Maister of New Zealand; Tsunekazu Takeda of Japan, representing the Association of National Olympic Committees; and advisers Simon Balderstone of Australia, Philippe Bovy of Switzerland and John McLaughlin of Canada.