The Winter Games have begun. The Team USA Flag Bearer was Erin Mullady Hamlin who said before the games began—
“Working hard and earning success is one thing, being acknowledged as a great representative and member of Team USA by fellow athletes–many who I have been inspired by–is above and beyond anything I’ve experienced. It is definitely a privilege and honor to be the one to lead the team and will be a very special moment.”
Erin Mullady Hamlin of New York was the sixth woman to be the USA flag bearer at the opening of the Winter Olympics. The first woman was Dianne Mary Holum of Illinois in 1972.
Ms. Holum had distinguished herself at the 1968 Games in Grenoble, France by winning Silver and Bronze medals. In 1972 at Sapporo, Japan she won Gold and Silver.
Retiring from active competition, she became a coach. At the 1976 Games she was the first woman to coach the women’s speed skaters.
At the 1976 Innsbruck Austria Winter Games Cindy Nelson of Minnesota was the flag bearer. She won a Bronze in Alpine Skiing.
In 1994 at Lillehammer, Norway Winter Games Cammy Myler of New York was the flag bearer. She never won a medal at the games, but she became a lawyer and professor.
Amy Peterson of Minnesota carried the USA flag at the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games’ Opening Ceremonies. This would be her last Olympics.
At the 2006 Torino Winter Games in Turin, Italy, Wisconsin’s Christine Witty led the USA Delegation. This was her last Olympics.
The following women led Team USA in the closing of the Winter Games:
Catherine Michelle Granato of Illinois at the 1998 Winter Games in Nagano, Japan and Julie Wu Chu of Connecticut at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
One has to wonder why it took so long before a woman was granted “privilege and honor.” In the previous Winter Games dating back to 1906 men carried the USA flag.
Since this post was about the Winter Games, we did not mention the Summer Games which we will discuss later this year. The first woman flag bearer of the Mexico City’s Summer Games of 1968 was Janice Romary. Ms. Romary was the first woman, period, to be the Team USA flag bearer.
Listed below are brief biographical references for these outstanding women.
Historical notes about women at the Olympics:
“Women first competed at the 1900 Paris Games. Women were allowed to compete in lawn tennis and golf, though there were three French women competing in croquet and there was at least one woman sailor as part of mixed crews. It is commonly believed that first woman to win an Olympic event was England’s Charlotte Cooper, who won the tennis singles title, however Swiss sailor Hélène de Pourtalès won a gold medal as part of a team in sailing earlier than this.”
“Equality in the available sports is one thing, but in many countries women do not have equal rights to participate in sports and the opportunity to participate in the Olympic Games. Prior to the 2012 Olympics in London, three Muslim countries have never before sent a female athlete: Qatar, Brunei, and Saudi Arabia. However, they all bowed to IOC pressure and sent female athletes to London. Now every national Olympic committee has sent women to the Olympic Games, a small step.”
G. D. Williams © 2018
Dianne Mary Holum
At the age of sixteen, Dianne Holum earned a silver medal in the 500m race at the 1968 Winter Games by finishing in a three-way tie for second place with two other Americans, Jennifer Fish and Mary Meyers. Two days later, she added a bronze medal in the 1,000m event.
Erin Mullady Hamlin
Cindy (Cynthia) Nelson was born on August 19, 1955 in Duluth, Minnesota. She was raised in Lutsen, Minnesota which is located on the North Shore of Lake Superior.
Christine Diane “Chris” Witty
Catherine Michelle Granato (Cammi)
Julie Wu Chu