Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Many of Canada's top Olympians don't want to carry flag in ceremonies

Well If none of the Canadian Atheletes want to carry the Flag in the Opening ceremonies then I will volunteer myself to do it! Jesus, mental this, and energy that, for God's sakes it's the Olympic Games you bunch of Woosies!! I guess someone needs to write the COC and let them know that at least I would do it for my country!


( CP) - Joe Sakic and the rest of Canada's men's Olympic hockey team will still be playing NHL games, so rule them out as possible flag-bearers for the opening ceremonies in Turin, Italy.

Beckie Scott, Canada's most famous cross-country skier, has a difficult race less than 48 hours after the ceremonies and has no desire to burn an ounce of energy doing anything other than competing.

A combination of circumstances, it seems, is limiting the number of high-profile athletes the Canadian Olympic Committee will be able to choose from in selecting a flag-bearer.

The COC will hold news conferences Jan. 26 in Calgary and Montreal to name the entire Olympic team, and also to announce who'll carry Canada's flag into the stadium during opening ceremonies Feb. 10.

Scott is defending Olympic champion in the cross-country pursuit, which is one of six events she's entered. She'll race 7.5 kilometres using classic technique, change equipment, and go another 7.5 kilometres in a ski-skate to the finish.

How the 31-year-old Vermilion, Alta., skier prepares is vital. As far as she's concerned, it shouldn't involve marching into a stadium, climbing stairs and sitting through hours of ceremonies.

"We just can't afford to waste any energy on anything," Canadian cross-country coach Dave Wood said Wednesday. "The opening ceremonies (on the Friday night) is, in a way, a gruelling event in itself.

"We have an event on Sunday and she felt, and we totally support her, that she's got a finite amount of energy, and she wants to put it into the competitions. Our sport is incredibly physically demanding. You just have to have everything at your disposal."

Each sport is asked by the COC to nominate a candidate for flag-bearer.

Because Scott doesn't want to do it, Cross Country Canada won't be forwarding a name.

Neither will Bobsleigh Canada after world champion Pierre Lueders, also citing the need to concentrate completely on competition, asked that his federation withhold his name from consideration.

Speed skating stars Cindy Klassen and Clara Hughes also asked that their names not be put forward.

They were personal decisions respected by Speed Skating Canada, said high performance director Emery Holmik.

Involvement in the opening ceremonies takes up the better part of the day and the time commitment is even greater for athletes living at sub-villages in far-flung towns.

"There are also many extra demands placed on the flag-bearer that potentially take away from the preparation (for competition) and which can be a distraction," said Holmik. "A number of athletes choose not to take on that added responsibility because they believe their first responsibility is to perform at their absolute maximum."

Holmik admits there is pride in carrying the flag and representing your country.

"But all that has to be balanced with how it affects the athlete," he said. "Some say participating in the opening ceremonies is an uplifting experience and take the position that, 'I'll benefit.' Others decide that taking part, standing for so long, having to change schedules . . . that maybe that will affect results and they choose not to participate."

To be accurate, the COC does not seek out individual athletes to be flag-bearer.

The COC sends a form three months before the Games to each national sport federation asking for one nominee per sport discipline. There are 15 disciplines, so the names of a maximum of 15 athletes can be put forward. A six-member committee chaired by Caroline Assalian, the COC's director of sport and major Games, then chooses a flag-bearer. The committee includes athlete and coaching representation.

The COC says it has yet to ask any athlete to be flag-bearer in Turin.

The Canadian Curling Association has nominated veteran Russ Howard, who is a member of Brad Gushue's rink that will compete at the Games.

"It's great to have such support but I'm just trying to focus on curling," says Howard. "They should pick Wayne Gretzky or somebody like that.

"It's just an honour to be nominated."

The women's hockey team, which plays its first game the day after the opening ceremonies, has submitted a name but, in keeping with the confidentiality requested by the COC, hasn't made it public.

After carrying the flag in the opening ceremonies in Salt Lake City four years ago, Le May Doan won a gold medal on the ice. She says she never bought into the so-called "flag-bearer's jinx."

"I almost loved that people then talked about the jinx because I never believed in it," she said. "So I wanted to prove that it was wrong. And I did."

In Nagano, Japan, in 1998, freestyle skier Jean-Luc Brassard happily accepted the role. After he failed to win a medal, he touched off controversy by suggesting that being flag-bearer hindered his efforts on the hills.

In Athens in 2004, judo athlete Nicolas Gill was selected, and there was an ensuing stink when it was reported the Montrealer had at one time supported the Quebec separatist movement.


Post a Comment

<< Home