Winter Olympics: Lizzy Yarnold named Team GB flagbearer

Written By: BBC/Hunja Macharia
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Reigning Olympic skeleton champion Lizzy Yarnold with carry the Great Britain flag at the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

The 29-year-old was selected by her fellow Team GB squad members for the flagbearer honour when the 23rd Games open in South Korea on Friday.

She said: “It’s really exciting and the opening ceremony is the start of something that I know from Sochi will be the biggest two weeks of my life.”

Yarnold will aim to become the first Britain to defend a winter Olympic title when she competes at Alpensia Sliding Centre on 16 and 17 February.

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Organisers are concerned about the extreme temperatures in South Korea and especially for those attending the opening ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, which has no roof.

They are installing wind shields and huge heaters and spectators will be given, blankets, heat pads, a warm seat cushion and rain coats to protect them from the elements.

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Temperatures are expected dip to -10C with wind chill during the ceremony which starts at 20:00 local time (11:00 GMT).

Yarnold told BBC Sport: “I wanted to be part of the team and the opening ceremony regardless of the weather. I’m going to try and hold the flag out with one arm throughout the ceremony – we’ll see.”

She had her first training runs on the track on Wednesday and was pleased with her times – which placed her fifth, just behind British team-mate Laura Deas.

“The Alpensia track is quite different to when we have been here before. The Luge [which use the same track] have a different cut to the ice so it did feel quite strange but it was exciting.

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“It’s nice there’s more to learn and the ice is absolutely perfect – super hard.”

Yarnold secured one podium finish during the World Cup season – a bronze in the first race in Lake Placid in the United States.

“It’s been an up and down World Cup season,” she admiited, adding “and I think it’s a lesson that I needed to respect the sport and appreciate anything can happen but I do know what I’m doing, I’ve learned and think I’m in a good place.”

She also carried the flag at the closing ceremony in Sochi, Russia, four years ago after her gold medal triumph.

A decision on whether 47 Russian athletes and coaches can take part in the Winter Olympics may not be made until Friday – the day the Games start.

The Russians believe they have been wrongfully excluded from Pyeongchang by the International Olympic Committee.

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They include the 28 athletes who had their life bans lifted by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas) last week.

A Cas panel started hearing the appeals on Wednesday but they have been adjourned until Thursday.

“The panel’s decisions are expected to be announced either late in the evening of 8 February 2018 or in the morning of 9 February 2018,” Cas said.

The Winter Olympics run from 9 to 25 February in South Korea – although some events start on 8 February, the day before the opening ceremony.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) invited 169 Russins to compete as independent athletes in Pyeongchang after their country was banned from the Games.

That ban followed an investigation into state-sponsored Russian doping at their home Games in Sochi in 2014.

The IOC also banned 43 Russians for life from the Olympics following a further inquiry.

 

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