Who should carry Canada's flag?

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VANCOUVER — It is Joannie Rochette’s flag to lose.

There are other candidates — other excellent candidates to carry the Canadian flag at the closing ceremony of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games — just no one like Rochette. No one who has inspired the way she has. No one who has demonstrated the emotional strength and courage of an Olympian the way she has here.

It is her flag to carry if she wants it, if she can handle it. It is her flag to carry if she’s comfortable with being front and centre in the closing ceremony after all that has happened this week.




This is normally a Canadian debate of sorts, nearing the end of every Olympic Games. Who deserves the flag? How do you make the choice? How do you quantify the accomplishments of one Olympian vs. another?

It was easy four years ago in Turin. Cindy Klassen was a no-brainer. She won five Olympic medals in 2006, which almost made her a country all her own. These Olympics are ending up successfully for Canada, especially for the powerful women, but there have been no Klassens at these games in terms of podium dominance.

There has been Rochette, whose story stopped a nation and made us cry tears of both sadness and joy, just days after the sudden and unexpected death of her mother. She has lived through the unimaginable and found a way to seek triumph at a time of tragedy.

She is our choice to carry the flag, assuming it is also her choice.

Sometime in the next day, chef de mission Nathalie Lambert will sit down with her assistants, Joey Juneau and Steve Podborski — Olympic medal winners all three of them — and make a decision. There is a process they will work through and they will announce the flag bearer Sunday morning, just hours before the gold-medal hockey game.

And should Rochette decline — or worse, not be asked — there are a strong list of viable candidates after her:

Alexander Bilodeau: The previously little known moguls skier won Canada’s first gold medal on Canadian soil — or was that artificial snow? — and has proven to be an inspiration throughout the Games. He has made every appearance possible, shaken hands, kissed babies, and donated $25,000 to charity. And to make our friends in Quebec happy, he’s even bilingual. You can’t go wrong with Bilodeau carrying the flag.

Morning Line: 2-1

Kristina Groves: Often the flag is handed to the most decorated Olympian at the Games. In Turin, that honour went to speed skater Cindy Klassen. Groves won two medals here, a silver and a bronze. That certainly makes her a credible candidate for the flag but, in these Games, maybe not the best candidate.

Morning Line: 7-1

Clara Hughes: Ordinarily, the person who carries the flag in the opening ceremony is not chosen to carry it in the closing. But we have discovered over the years that there is nothing ordinary about Hughes. In her final Olympics of an illustrious athletic career, Hughes won her sixth Olympic medal; four Winter and two Summer. No one represents the qualities of an Olympian more than she does. She won’t be chosen by the Canadian Olympic Committee to carry the flag out, but I wouldn’t have the least problem with it. She is that special.

Morning Line: 100-1

Pierre Lueders: This is Lueders fifth and expected to be his final Olympics. He has been winning Olympic medals, and bobsled races around the world for the past 16 years. He may not be Mr. Warm and Fuzzy, but he has a terrific resume and in other years and at other less successful Games, would be worth the choice for career achievement alone.

Morning Line: 150-1

Christine Nesbitt: She won one gold, and would be a solid choice, as well.

Morning Line: 10-1

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