Leading the Opening Ceremony parade of the US athletes was the Team’s flag-bearer, Mark Grimmette. He was selected at a meeting of all the sport team captains, and was told of this honor by his luge partner, Brian Martin. These two men have been a luge team for almost two decades, and have earned the highest marks ever by a US pair. Having met Mark a few years ago, I rejoiced in the news that he would be our team’s standard bearer.
“It was one of the greatest honors I have ever received,” Mark told me with a big smile on his face. He described how when the US team was in the tunnel, a volunteer handed him a leather sling into which he could place the flagpole if he wished, but he wanted to wave the flag during his march around the arena, so he politely declined.
Mike Plant (the US Chef de Mission) told him that he was not allowed to “dip the flag” even out of respect for the IOC President or the Canadian Prime Minister, because there is a law preventing such a display of subservience.
When someone came over, I placed my arm on Mark’s shoulder and gushed, “There are more US Olympic multiple medal winners than there are flag bearers.” He smiled and said, “I’d make the trade.”