2014 Winter Olympics 10 Americans Who Should Be USA’s Flag Bearer At Opening Ceremonies
10 Americans Who Should Be Flag Bearer at Opening Ceremonies
Here is an Olympic fun fact for you: to carry your country’s flag at the Parade of Nations, you do not need to be an athlete participating in the Games. You can be classified as a "coach" (see Abdelkader Kada, a track and field coach for Djibouti in 2008), or an "official" (see Fuad Guliyev, a figure skating official from Azerbaijan in 2010) or just a “non-participant” (see Manny Pacquiao, the world-famous Filipino pugilist, in 2008) to bear your nation’s flag in Olympic Stadium.
However, those are just exceptions to the norm. Typically, a country’s National Olympic Committee or its Olympic team members select their best athlete to walk in with their flag. For the 2012 Summer Games, the U.S. Olympic team selected fencer Mariel Zagunis. While only the most ardent of the Olympic faithful would know of Zagunis, you could argue that she was one of America’s best athletes heading into London as the two-time defending gold-medalist in the women’s saber competition.
But in America, the “best athlete” formula is not always the answer. For the 2008 opening ceremonies, 1500-meter runner Lopez Lomong was the guy not so much for his athletic prowess (Lomong got eliminated in the semifinals), but for his inspirational back-story. Lomong was one of the Lost Boys of Sudan who moved to America in 2001 gained citizenship in 2007.
Same can be said for Bryshon Nellum, the flag bearer at the 2012 closing ceremonies. The Los Angeles native was shot in the leg by gang members in 2009 but returned to world-class level for the Olympics, coming home with a silver in the 4x400-meter relay.
For Sochi, the USA will sent a record 230 athletes across all 15 sports, giving America many options for whom shall carry out the honor. This slideshow includes only athletes, not a coach, official or any non-participants (sorry, Mike Eruzione).
10. Shani Davis
The first black athlete to win an individual Winter Olympic gold medal, Shani Davis fits the bill when it comes to championship pedigree. But when it comes to walking into Olympic Stadium with the American flag at the opening ceremonies, the speed skating legend might defer. The winner of two golds and two silvers from Torino and Vancouver, Davis, unlike most Olympians, takes no financial support from the U.S. Federation and has previously caused a stir by declining to partake in the team pursuit event.
9. Ryan Miller
Ryan Miller of the Buffalo Sabres would be a wise choice to carry the stars and stripes in Sochi after an MVP performance at the Vancouver Games. The problem is that Miller will not be in Russia for the opening ceremoies as the NHL will be playing games until Saturday the 8th.
8. Julie Chu
Julie Chu is a three-time Olympian and a three-time medalist, but the American ice hockey captain has faltered thrice in search of the elusive gold medal. Only the Canadians stand in Chu's way in Sochi.
7. Hannah Kearney
Hannah Kearney thwarted Canada's hopes of its first Olympic gold in Vancouver by winning the moguls competition over hometown favorite Jen Heil. The Vermont native with the trademark pigtails is also a giant fan of the Boston Red Sox.
6. Lolo Jones
Lolo Jones fits the description as an "inspirational" flag bearer. She is well known for her looks and for her athletic prowess, yet has struck out when it comes to taking home an Olympic medal. Motivated by failure, Lolo has teamed up with former collegiate track star Jazmine Fenlator in the two-women bobsled event.
5. Steve Holcomb
Steve Holcomb served in the Utah National Guard before becoming an Olympic bobsledder in 2006. In Vancouver, Holcomb was the driver of the gold medal USA-1 sled that is poised to repeat in Sochi.
4. Kelly Clark
30-year old Kelly Clark will be making her fourth appearance in the Olympics. At Salt Lake as an 18-year old, Clark crushed the women's halfpipe competition before finishing fourth in Tornio and winning a bronze in 2010.
3. Bode Miller
Bode Miller became a household name heading into the 2006 Winter Games due to Nike's "Join Bode" promotional campaign. The athletic apparel conglomerate failed to capitalize on Miller's success in Torino because the lad typically spent his nights partying it up. Miller, though, rebounded in 2010, taking gold in the super combined, silver in the super-G and bronze in downhill. Add that to two silver medals in 2002 at Salt Lake, and the five-time Olympian has become the most accomplished skier in American history.
2. Shaun White
Shaun White may be the best-known U.S. athlete in Sochi now that Lindsey Vonn is sidelined with knee issues (I know. I also really wanted to see Tiger Woods bundled up, supporting his woman on NBC's broadcasts). "The Flying Tomato" took home the last two gold medals in the men's halfpipe and the snowboarder is favored once again this Olympiad. White will also take part in the Winter Olympic debut of snowboard slopestyle.
1. Billy Demong
The flag bearer at the 2010 closing ceremonies deserves the same role at the more prominent opening ceremonies. A five-time Olympian, 31-year-old Billy Demong led a breakthrough American contingent in Vancouver in the sport of nordic combined (ski jumping and cross-country skiing). Before 2010, the U.S. had never medaled in the discipline until Demong and co. helped the Yanks win silver in the 4x5 km team pursuit before taking gold in the individual 10km large hill.