Inside the Olympics: The day Todd Lodwick carried the American flag | SteamboatToday.com

Inside the Olympics: The day Todd Lodwick carried the American flag

Six-time Olympian Todd Lodwick carries the flag during the opening ceremonies at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.

Certainly it was Todd Lodwick that did what was necessary to earn the honor of carrying the flag in the 2014 Winter Olympics Opening Ceremonies. Lodwick was competing that winter in his sixth Winter Olympics, an American record.

More directly, it was Bryan Fletcher who put Lodwick’s name forward for the honor, however.

Each discipline from the U.S. Olympic Team sent one representative to help decide which athlete would carry the flag, and each discipline got the chance to nominate one athlete.

Fletcher, about to compete in his first Olympics, was chosen to represent the Nordic combined team, and Lodwick was the obvious choice to be the team's nominee.

Representatives then took turns voting to eliminate candidates.

"There were so many great athletes out there that were representing Team USA, so it was hard to imagine Todd would be the winner of all that," Fletcher said of the process. "I was voting for some of the other athletes just as much as I was voting for Todd. It was a tough decision."

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Other top nominees included Steve Holcomb, a three-time Olympian who in 2010 piloted the U.S. four-man bobsled to a gold medal, and Lindsey Van, a skier jumper who led the fight to have women's ski jumping included in the Winter Olympics.

"We heard some pretty inspirational stories," Fletcher said. "It took almost six rounds of voting. There were a couple of ties."

When it was finally over, he had really good news to relay to Lodwick and the team.

Lodwick said the experience was his greatest honor, and four years later, the details stick with him.

The many national teams formed up underneath Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi, Russia, waiting their turn to walk up a ramp and into the stadium, filled with cheering fans.

Lodwick got into it, to say the least, helping lead a "USA! USA!" chant as the team waited for its moment. Finally it came, and he led the procession up and in, waving the flag with one arm and waving to the crowd with the other.

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JReich9.