Yesterday, luger Erin Hamlin was named the U.S. flag bearer for Friday’s opening ceremony. It’s traditionally a big honor, since the flag bearer is chosen by a vote of fellow athletes, and Hamlin is a fine choice: Competing in her fourth Olympics, Hamlin in Sochi took bronze in singles luge, becoming the first American athlete ever to medal in a singles luge event. But there are a lot of fine choices.
Speed skater Shani Davis, appearing in his fifth Olympics, has two golds and two silvers and in Torino in 2006 became the first black athlete to win gold in any individual Winter Olympic event. Davis was the runner-up to Hamlin in the voting, and he lost by a particularly painful mechanism: a coin flip. He was evidently not happy with that outcome:
Here’s how the voting for flag bearer works: Each of the eight U.S. Olympic federations nominate one athlete to be flag bearer, and designate another athlete to cast a vote. Hamlin and Davis both received four votes. As determined beforehand, a coin flip was used to choose between them. The coin flipped Hamlin’s way.
A crappy way to lose, but Davis could still be honored by carrying the flag at the closing ceremony; that decision will be made at the close of the Games.
Past opening ceremony U.S. flag bearers include skier Todd Lodwick, luger Mark Grimmette, and speed skaters Chris Witty and Amy Peterson. Recent closing ceremony flag bearers include hockey player Julie Chu, skier Bill Demong, speed skater Joey Cheek, and bobsledder Brian Shimer.