Speedskaters Davis, Hansen Not Walking in Opening Ceremony

Speedskater Shani Davis expressed his frustration after Team USA announced its decision to select luger Erin Hamlin to be the team’s flag bearer for the opening ceremony. Davis tweeted that Team USA “dishonorably” tossed a coin to make its decision and indicated he felt he was more deserving.

(Published Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018)

Chicago-area speedskaters, including Olympic star Shani Davis, weren't expected to walk in the Opening Ceremony in Pyeongchang Friday, according to the athletes and US Speedskating.

Davis and suburban skater Brian Hansen were skipping the grand start of the Winter Games to rest their legs ahead of the competition.

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"Opening Ceremony is one of my favorite days from the past two Olympic Games I’ve competed in, but at the same time, you know, I remember the next day, my legs were just a little stiff, my lower back was a little sore, so, you know, I think I might skip it this time around," Hansen told NBC 5's Katie Kim.

He later posted on Instagram that he was "super excited to watch @teamusa walk in!"

Fellow suburban skater Emery Lehman also considered skipping the event, but ended up going at the last minute.

“I told them I would march with an early departure, but I might not now just because the 5K is so close after Opening Ceremony. I have to talk to my coach and see what happens," he said earlier.

Despite controversy surrounding Davis' comments about the opening event, US Speedskating officials said the prominent skater didn't plan on attending the ceremony to begin with.

A spokesman for US Speedskating said attending the ceremony would have altered Davis' training program, but he had reconsidered going to the event after learning he was nominated as a potential flag bearer.

Luge veteran Erin Hamlin was selected to carry the U.S. flag into the ceremony at the Pyeongchang Games following a vote by some of her fellow athletes and subsequent coin toss.

Hamlin and Davis were among eight nominees for the flagbearer role, and athletes from each of the eight winter sports federations represented those nominees in a balloting that took place Wednesday night.

Eventually, the final vote was deadlocked at 4-4. Hamlin won a coin toss, the predetermined method of picking a winner if all else failed in the athlete-led process.

But Davis tweeted 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.

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