Skater: Flag-Bearer Coin Toss Done 'Dishonorably'

Shani Davis tweet hints race had something to do with luger Erin Hamlin getting picked over him
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 8, 2018 8:49 AM CST
Skater: Flag-Bearer Coin Toss Done 'Dishonorably'
In this Jan. 6, 2018, file photo, Shani Davis competes in the men's 1,500 meters during the US Olympics long track speed-skating trials in Milwaukee.   (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

It was a feel-good story for a few hours: Luge veteran Erin Hamlin gets the chance to enter her last Olympics carrying the US flag into the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang Games, winning that distinction after a vote by some of her fellow athletes. And then Shani Davis tweeted. With that, the entire process was called into controversy, the AP reports. The tweet posted to Davis' account Thursday said the process by which Hamlin won was executed "dishonorably" and included a reference to Black History Month—raising the question of whether the speedskater was suggesting that race played a role in the decision. Davis is black, Hamlin is white. Hamlin and Davis were among eight nominees, from each of the eight winter sports federations, for the flag-bearer role on a Wednesday night ballot.

The final vote was deadlocked at 4-4, and Hamlin won a coin toss, the predetermined method of picking a winner if all else fails. Hours before the tweet, Hamlin, a four-time Olympian with a bronze medal from Sochi and 23 World Cup medals, was beaming about the opportunity. "[My brothers and I have] grown up watching the Olympics and we're always like, 'Who's going to be carrying the flag?' ... To actually be that person is insane," she said. Davis is also a worthy candidate: He's a five-time Olympian, with two gold medals and two silver medals. It couldn't be determined if Davis posted the tweet himself or if someone with access to his account did. It's not the first time Davis has seen Olympics controversy. In 2006, Davis opted out of the team pursuit at the Turin Games and raised the ire of teammate Chad Hedrick. Davis stormed out of a presser when Hedrick broached the matter.

(More Olympics stories.)

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