CNR AT THE WINTER GAMES INDEX PHOTOS - WOMENS' SPORTS AT CNR - CNR MAIN INDEX



February 10, 2006


Five-time Olympian Chris Witty will carry the flag for the U.S. delegation.

OPENING CEREMONY

The Opening Ceremony marks the start of the Winter Games, with the Parade of Nations taking center stage of the event.  It is what has taken up the majority of my time in the Research Room at this point, as we try to determine who will carry each national delegation’s flag.  While most consider it to be a great honor, some athletes do not want the burden of carrying the flag during the ceremony.  Germany, for example, had to struggle to find someone willing to do it, as most of the athletes felt that it was too strenuous an activity on the eve of competition.  The Americans choose their flag bearer democratically, with the captains of the U.S. team meeting and voting on the flag bearer.  This year it is speed skater Chris Witty.  Torino marks Witty’s fifth Olympic appearance – she competed in speed skating in Lillehammer, Nagano, where she took home silver and a bronze, and Salt Lake, and in track cycling in Sydney in 2000.  Her Salt Lake performance is one of the most memorable of those Games – she won gold in the 1000m in world record time while battling what many thought was mononucleosis.  She later revealed that she was suffering from emotional stress caused by childhood memories of sexual abuse.  She returns to competition in Torino as a hero to many, which the decision of her teammates to make her flag bearer demonstrates.  She will likely compete in the 500m, the 1000m, and the 1500m, and while she has struggled since Salt Lake, she hopes to defend her gold medal in the 1000m.  Teammate Jennifer Rodriguez, who took home the bronze in the 1000m in 2002, will again be by her side.  Like teammate Chad Hedrick, a favorite in speed skating on the men’s side, Rodriguez has a background in in-line skating.  The American duo likely will be challenged by two of the best all-around skaters in the world, Canada’s Cindy Klassen and Germany’s Anni Friesinger

But before Witty faces the likes of Klassen and Friesinger, she has a job to do:  to carry the American flag into Stadio Olimpico to take part in a ceremony that has been, according to the organizers, 15,000 days in the making, using 6,100 volunteers.  Approximately 2 billion people are expected to watch – don’t get left out.





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