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7 months ago
Team USA Picks Luge Star Erin Hamlin as Olympic Flag Bearer, Controversy Ensues

Team USA has officially picked a flag bearer for tomorrow's opening ceremony in PyeongChang: luger and four-time Olympian Erin Hamlin. At the Sochi Olympics in 2014, Hamlin made history by being the first American luger to win an Olympic singles luge medal (and was the first American woman to win at the World Championships in 2009).

“Working hard and earning success is one thing, being acknowledged as a great representative and member of Team USA by fellow athletes — many who I have been inspired by — is above and beyond anything I’ve experienced,” Hamlin said in a statement. "It is definitely a privilege and honor to be the one to lead the team and will be a very special moment.”

The process didn't come without controversy, though. After the U.S. Olympic Committee released their statement, Team USA speedskater Shani Davis tweeted his response, calling the entire process "dishonorable." Davis was one of the athletes in the running for the flag bearer spot, and had in fact tied with Hamlin in the voting. She then won out in a coin toss.

He wrote “I am an American and when I won the 1000m in 2010 I became the first American to 2-peat in that event. @TeamUSA dishonorably tossed a coin to decide its 2018 flag bearer. No problem. I can wait until 2022.#BlackHistoryMonth2018

As of Thursday morning (or night in Korea, given the time difference) Davis has not elaborated on his tweet. In a statement to The Guardian, Davis's speedskating teammate Joey Mantia added, “We feel strongly toward Shani and they felt strongly for Erin... That’s just that.”

Hamlin and Davis were the two final choices (among eight nominees) for flag bearer. One representative from each of the eight different winter sports federations – bobsled and skeleton, ski and snowboarding, figure skating, curling, biathlon, hockey, speedskating, and luge – voted. The vote was dead-locked 4-4, and so was decided with a coin-toss (which is reportedly the predetermined way to pick the winner).

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