The U.S. Olympic Opening Ceremony flag bearer is usually chosen two days before the Games. Therefore, everyone has another week to debate who this year’s choice should be.
The U.S. flag bearer generally falls into one or more of three categories — medal favorite (Mariel Zagunis, 2012), longtime Olympian (Mark Grimmette, 2010) or fascinating backstory (Lopez Lomong, 2008).
(Technically, a flag bearer doesn’t have to be an Olympian. Boxer/politician Manny Pacquiao carried the Philippines flag at the 2008 Olympics.)
With that in mind, NBC Olympics compiled a list of 13 candidates (plus the ubiquitous “other”) to carry the Stars and Stripes into Fisht Stadium on Feb. 7. One can vote here.
Here are 13 potential flag bearers:
Erika Brown, Curling — First competed at the Olympics in 1988 at age 15, when curling was a demonstration sport.
Julie Chu, Hockey — Only four-time U.S. Olympic hockey player in Sochi.
Emily Cook, Aerials — Competing in her third Olympics. Made the 2002 Olympic Team but withdrew due to injury.
Meryl Davis and Charlie White, Figure Skating — Only U.S. gold-medal favorites in figure skating.
Shani Davis, Speed Skating — Could become first U.S. man to win the same Winter Olympic event three times.
Chris Fogt, Bobsled — A U.S. Army Olympian.
Steven Holcomb, Bobsled — Drove the U.S. to its first four-man bobsled since 1948 in 2010.
Todd Lodwick, Nordic Combined — First six-time U.S. Winter Olympian.
Bode Miller, Alpine Skiing — First five-time Olympic Alpine skier.
Noelle Pikus-Pace, Skeleton — Skeleton gold-medal co-favorite, mother of two.
Kikkan Randall, Cross-Country Skiing — Favored to win first U.S. Olympic cross-country gold medal.
Lindsey Van, Ski Jumping — Veteran anchor of first U.S. Olympic Women’s Ski Jumping Team.
Shaun White, Snowboarding — Could become first Winter Olympian to enter at least four career events and win gold medals in all of them.
Who will represent U.S. Figure Skating in Olympic team event?
Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard was added to the list of 30 finalists to make the 12-man U.S. roster for the Olympics, USA Basketball announced Wednesday.
Lillard, 25 and a two-time All-Star, did not attend an August camp deemed mandatory for Olympic consideration, but called USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo and expressed desire for the Rio Games.
“Both [coach] Mike [Krzyzewski] and I feel like Damian is playing at a very high level and that he should be added to our list of Olympic finalists,” Colangelo said in a press release. “Damian has been a member of the USA National Team since 2014, and he participated in National Team training camps in 2013 and 2014, so he does have equity in USA Basketball, which is always important to me.”
USA Basketball has not said when the final 12-man Olympic team will be named. In 2012, it named its Olympic roster three weeks before the London Games.
The 2012 Olympic roster included three point guards — Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook and Deron Williams. Paul and Westbrook are finalists for the 2016 team, but Williams is not.
Other potential first-time Olympic point guards competing with Lillard include NBA MVP Stephen Curry, All-Star John Wall and past All-Star Kyrie Irving.
MORE: Tony Parker updates Olympic qualifying, Rio status
Bob Costas will be the Olympic primetime host for a record 11th time in Rio de Janeiro in August.
Costas, the primetime host at every Olympics on NBC since Barcelona 1992, also served as NBC’s late-night host at Seoul 1988.
“The Olympics are a unique television event,” Costas said in an NBC press release. “They involve classic sports coverage, of course, but also many elements of storytelling and travelogue aspects that are not as much a part of the typical sports broadcast. In a way, the Olympics are a three-week mini-series which, if done well, should bring viewers not only memorable athletic performances, but a sense of the host city and country, and an appreciation of what is a truly global gathering.”
NBC Olympics executive producer Jim Bell said “there is no one better than” Costas for the role.
“For a quarter-century, Bob has been NBC’s pilot of primetime at the Olympics, and over that span, the scope of our coverage has constantly evolved, with Rio set to become the most live event in U.S. television history,” Bell said in a press release. “Given his vast experience and uncanny expertise, simply put there is no one better than Bob to tell the stories of the athletes, take our viewers inside the world’s biggest sports event, and introduce them to one of the most spectacular cities on the planet.”
Jim McKay hosted Olympic primetime coverage eight times for ABC.
WATCH: NBC Olympics promo video