Thursday, February 8, 2018

Opening Ceremonies Forecast: Awesome!

Today in the Main Press Center (MPC), I learned three key facts regarding tomorrow night's Olympic Opening Ceremony.

First, in a moment akin to Charlie Bucket discovering his golden ticket to Willy Wonka's chocolate factory, the Team USA press office handed me a media desk ticket to PyeongChang Olympic Stadium, so I'll be able to blog from the big event live, in person and (hopefully) in the comforts of a heated press box about 24 hours from now. Amazing!

The to-the-bone frigid mountain temperatures here bring me to the second news flash for Opening Ceremonies.

Point No. 2: It's freakin' cold here, but the South Korean national weather service predicts slightly warmer than normal temperatures -- closer to zero degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit) -- for the hours-long celebration. 

They won't ignite that cauldron soon enough (sidebar: the cauldron is spectacular-spectacular!).

On a patriotic note, the third big item du jour is that Team USA luger Erin Hamlin -- in her fourth consecutive Games and first since winning bronze in 2014 -- will carry the Stars and Stripes into Olympic Stadium during the parade of nations. 

I first met Hamlin at USA House in Sochi during a press event for then-client (by-partnership-with-UEG) Citi. What a great Olympian and person to represent USA on the world's stage. Newly engaged, she is a sweetheart with a lot of support from across the nation and her home stomping grounds of Remsen, N.Y.

At a press conference in MPC this morning, Hamlin answered questions about the announcement.

When I asked her how the flag bearer selection might rank in terms of life moments, as compared to qualifying for her first Games or winning bronze in Sochi, Hamlin said she's taking a wait-and-see approach to determine where the experience fits.

"It's up there pretty good," said Hamlin. "Winning a medal and accomplishing my athletic goals is a different feeling than being honored with something by my peers. It's exciting in the same aspects at being able to represent the U.S., and just being a part of the whole thing is awesome, so just gonna keep all of the [life moments] on the same level -- I haven't done it yet, so maybe [carrying the flag] will get it a couple notches higher afterwards."

Hamlin is the fourth U.S. luge athlete to be selected for Winter Olympic flag bearing duties. She said she won't change her routine now through Friday night, but maintaining her world champion shoulder and arm strength will be in the back of her mind while holding Old Glory aloft, not to mention managing a few butterflies in her stomach while billions of people are watching.

"The nerves will be flying for sure," said Hamlin. "

Olympic ticket and Erin Hamlin photos by Nicholas Wolaver. Weather image via PyeongChang 2018. 

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