Alpine skiers Danelle Umstead and Tyler Carter were elected U.S. flagbearers for the Paralympic Opening Ceremony on Friday.
It’s the first Winter Games since nations started being encouraged to name one male and one female Opening Ceremony flagbearer rather than one athlete carrying the flag.
Umstead, 50, is a three-time bronze medalist competing in the visually impaired classification. Her husband, Rob, was her guide at the Paralympics in 2010, 2014 and 2018 and will be again this month.
“They did a beautiful thing, and they had my husband tell me,” Umstead, who will be joined by Rob as she carries the flag, said, according to TeamUSA.org. “Everything I have done, he has been by my side.”
Umstead had to mount comebacks since the last Winter Games. After competing on “Dancing with the Stars” in late 2018, she was sidelined during the 2018-19 season due to a multiple sclerosis relapse. She then suffered a broken tibia and fibula in a February 2020 downhill practice run. She returned the following season, then underwent another surgery in April 2021.
Umstead has said these will be her last Paralympics, though she made the same prediction before the 2018 Games.
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Carter, 28, also said these will be his final Games. He finished 27th in the giant slalom in 2014 and 19th in the slalom in 2018.
“I called my dad right away when I found out, and he was over the moon excited,” Carter said of being elected flagbearer by a majority vote of U.S. athletes. “I was crying when I was telling him. This is a really cool way to end my athletic career and Games experience.”
Carter, who was born without fibula in his right leg, has said the last three years have been the hardest of his life, “plagued with injuries and countless setbacks.”
He has trained while also working full-time as a supervisor at the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Museum in Colorado Springs.
In 2018, the U.S. topped the Winter Paralympic standings in total medals (36) and gold medals (13) for the first time since 1992.
The Winter Paralympics feature 78 medal events across six sports — Alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, biathlon, snowboarding, hockey and curling — with more than 700 athletes expected to compete from around the world, including 67 Americans.
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What's better than finding out you're Team USA's flag bearers for #OpeningCeremony at the #WinterParalympics?
Finding out you're the flag bearer with your @USParaAlpineSki teammate.@DanelleUmstead x @tcski2014 pic.twitter.com/OQJSroobPw
— Team USA (@TeamUSA) March 2, 2022