It’s the Winter Olympics, which means it’s time to remember all the great Winter Olympians you probably haven’t thought about in a while.
Shani Davis, for example! Davis has been around since the 2006 Olympics, when he became the first black athlete to win an individual medal at the Winter Olympics. (Yes, it took that long.) He followed it up by winning another gold (and a silver) in 2010, and he’s on the team this year too. Given his history, Davis was an obvious candidate to carry the flag for the United States delegation at tomorrow’s Opening Ceremony.
Instead, that honor went to luger Erin Hamilton, herself a four-time Olympian and the first American of either gender to win a solo medal in luge. Shani Davis wasn’t happy about that:
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 #PyeongChang2018 pic.twitter.com/dsmTtNkhJs
— Shani Davis (@ShaniDavis) February 8, 2018
That’s an interesting take! Davis is referring to the process used to decide who gets to carry the flag, broken down here via AP:
Hamlin and Davis were among eight nominees for the flag-bearer role, and athletes from each of the eight winter sports federations — bobsled and skeleton, ski and snowboarding, figure skating, curling, biathlon, hockey, speedskating and luge — represented those nominees in balloting that took place Wednesday night.
Eventually, the final vote was deadlocked at 4-4. Hamlin won a coin toss, which was the predetermined method of picking a winner if all else failed in the athlete-led process. The U.S. Olympic Committee confirmed the tie, and that voters knew in the event of a tie, the coin toss would take place.
The coin toss is never anyone’s preferred outcome, and it’s not like Olympic federations are above accusations of shadiness. But in this case, it seems like the United States had two clear candidates, both with great stories, both entering their fourth Olympics, and they went with the fairest option to break the deadlock. Davis clearly had his heart set on the opportunity, so his disappointment is somewhat understandable.
It does make one wonder how he’ll react if he doesn’t get to carry the flag at the Closing Ceremony.