Gilmore Junio or Jennifer Jones? Early favourites to carry Canada's flag in Sochi
Canadian speed skaters Denny Morrison and Gilmore Junio hold up a Canadian flag following a news conference at the Sochi Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Sunday February 16, 2014. (Adrian Wyld / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press
Published Saturday, February 22, 2014 6:34AM EST
SOCHI, Russia -- It was more than a week ago that Denny Morrison suggested teammate Gilmore Junio carry Canada's flag in the closing ceremonies.
Junio's gift of a spot in long-track speedskating's 1,000 metres that landed Morrison a silver medal was a good-news story for Canada in an Olympic Games full of them.
Junio, Alex Bilodeau, Kaillie Humphries, Jennifer Jones, the Dufour-Lapointe sisters, and a hockey goalpost, are just a few of the suggestions for flag bearers for Sunday's closing ceremonies.
Calgary's Junio gave up his spot to Morrison, from Fort St. John, B.C., knowing the veteran skater had a better chance at a medal.
After racing to silver Morrison tweeted: "@cdnhappygilmore for Closing Ceremonies flag bearer! This guy showing everything that is Canadian pride and Olympic Pride. #ThankYouGilmore"
Morrison, himself, is among the flag bearer favourites, racing to bronze in the 1,500 metres with a shot at a third medal in Saturday's team pursuit.
Bilodeau, from Rosemere, Que., battled back from a shaky start to lay down the run of his life and win moguls gold for the second consecutive Olympics. He sought out his brother Frederic, who has cerebral palsy, for a celebratory hug in what will be one of these Games' most enduring images. Bilodeau, however, has already returned home, meaning he'd have to hop a flight back to Sochi.
Humphries, from Calgary, with brakeman Heather Moyse of Summerside, P.E.I., displayed steely nerves to pilot her sled to a second consecutive Olympic title.
Winnipeg's Jones went on a stunning 11-0 run through round-robin play and the playoffs to win Canadian gold in women's curling, a day before Brad Jacobs led the men's team to victory.
"There's so many tremendous athletes at these Olympics Games and all of our teammates of team Canada were tremendous so any one of us could do that honour and do a tremendous job," said Jones. "Obviously it's a huge honour to carry the flag, but I'm just so excited to be a part of this team and to be included in the closing ceremonies and march out with our Canadian athletes."
Canada's golden goal-scorer Marie-Philip Poulin should be in the running for flag bearer, although teammate Hayley Wickenheiser carried the flag in the opening ceremonies. Poulin scored both Canadian goals in the Olympic final four year ago, and her overtime goal and equalizer in the final minute propelled Canada to a 3-2 win over the U.S.
How about the goalpost as flag bearer? The goalpost from the women's final has received plenty of online love, and tongue-in-cheek suggestions as flag-bearer. American Kelli Stack fired a long-range shot at the empty Canadian net with 1:26 left in the final and Canada down 2-1. The shot seemed destined to go in, but instead rang off the right post.
Justine Dufour-Lapointe of Montreal captured Canada's first gold medal of the Games, in women's moguls, with her sister Chloe right behind her. The sisters held hands before they took their spots on the podium for the flower ceremony -- one of Canada's lasting images of Sochi.
Canada has twice had two people share flag duties: pairs figure skaters Jamie Sale and David Pelletier in 2002, and rowers Marnie McBean and Kathleen Heddle in 1996.
Long-track speedskater Clara Hughes led the Canadian team into the opening ceremonies four years ago in Vancouver, while figure skater Joannie Rochette, who won bronze just days after the death of her mom, carried the flag in the closing.
Several countries have already announced their flag bearer. Women's hockey player Julie Chu, a four-time Olympian, will carry the American flag, while David Morris, a silver medallist in aerials, will march with the flag for Australia.