Malcolm Kelly - Saturday Feb. 22, 2014 19:41 ET

Canada's closing ceremony flag-bearer: 3 unique perspectives

Denny Morrison, Gilmore Junio, Kailie Humphries and Heather Moyse among choices

getty-rochette-vancouver
Joannie Rochette’s emotional bronze medal performance at Vancouver, just days after her mother died of a heart attack, saw her carry the Canadian flag in the closing ceremonies. (Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP/Getty Images).

Canada’s flag-bearer for the closing ceremonies of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics will be announced around 1 a.m. ET on Sunday, and the choice seems to come down to three categories – wins and losses, the Olympic ideal, or correcting a perceived wrong.

The decision is ultimately made at the Canadian Olympic Committee level, represented by president Marcel Aubut and Chef de Mission Steve Podborski.

Those closing ceremonies run at 11 a.m. ET on CBC TV and online at CBC.ca/olympics. 

Let’s take a look at some possibilities, matched with previous flag-bearers.

1. The Performance: Alexandre Bilodeau, or Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse

Bilodeau is one of the purely athletic choices, having made history by becoming the first freestyle skier to repeat as an Olympic champion, taking the men’s moguls event at Sochi after opening the Vancouver Games with a gold. That first one, of course, made him (at the time) the only Canadian to win the big medal on Canadian soil. Many more would follow.

Bobsledders Humphries (pilot) and Moyse (brakeman) put in a dominant fourth run to win their second-consecutive gold medal in the two-man event.

This kind of choice, based on victories, has a long history.

Cindy Klassen, the country’s greatest Winter Olympian, carried the flag in 2006 after a stunning performance in long track speed skating that included a gold in the 1,500 metres, silvers in the 1,000 metres and team pursuit, and bronzes in 3,000 and 5,000 metres.

Catriona Le May Doan, also a speed skater, won a gold and a bronze at Nagano in 1998 to earn the honour, and would follow that up with another gold in four years later.

Myriam Bedard dominated the Canadian headlines in 1994 with victories in both the 7.5 km and 15 km biathlon events.

2. The Ideal: Denny Morrison and Gilmore Junio

Just four years ago the honour went to Joannie Rochette, who was dealt a stunning blow a few days before her women’s figure skating event began in Vancouver when her mother, Therese, died of a heart attack. Rochette dedicated her skate to her mom and won a bronze medal.

Her choice represented the Olympic ideal.

Fast forward to Sochi where Junio, a member of the long track speed skating team, was approached by coaches the day before the 1,000 metres and asked if he would consider giving up his spot in favour of Morrison, who had fallen in the Canadian trials and wasn’t in that event. Realizing Morrison had a chance at a medal and he didn’t, Junio readily agreed.

Morrison did his job by winning a silver medal, and followed that up later with a bronze in the 1,500 metres. He then started an online campaign to make Junio the flag-bearer. The story of these teammates captivated the country.

3. The Message: Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir

With a gold from Vancouver and a silver at Sochi in the ice dance portion of the figure skating program, this couple would be a solid choice anyway.

But with some people, inside and outside the sport, feeling the Canadians were unfairly judged in their showdown with Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White, picking the pair would be a way for the COC to show where they thought Virtue and Moir should have finished.

This is not without precedent.

Marc Gagnon won two short track speed skating golds at Salt Lake City in 2002, but the honour went to Jamie Sale and David Pelletier, the pairs figure skaters who had a gold medal taken from them in a scandal that would eventually change the way the whole sport was judged.

They were awarded a share of gold a few days later and then handed the flag as the Games closed. This type of choice for flag-bearer could be seen as making a point to the International Skating Union in both cases.

Other options

There are other good candidates from the Sochi Games as well, including:

• Charles Hamelin, who had a tough time, falling in the 1,000 metres and 500 metres, but did win a gold in the 1,500, giving him three over the last two Olympics.
• Marie-Philip Poulin, who scored the tying and winning goals to beat the Americans for the gold in women’s hockey. She had notched both markers in the 2010 gold medal victory too.
• Jennifer Jones, who became the first woman to skip a curling rink to an undefeated record and the gold medal.

Now it’s up to Aubut and Podborski.

 

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