7 February 2014

Flag bearers for the 2014 Winter Olympics: Part Two #Sochi2014

As you will have seen from part one the nations are not walking into the stadium in the order that an English speaker would expect because of the Cyrillic spelling of their nations name. In this part I carry on from that near neighbour Georgia who finished the first quarter of the 88 nations in the parade this evening. As I said last time I'm hoping my knowledge of the Russian alphabet is up to the challenge though I apologise if  I have the name or order wrong.

So onwards with the second quarter of the parade of nations.

Denmark - Дания Lene Nielsen at 27 is returning to the Games eight years after her debut and only appearance. Then she played second on Dorthe Holm's rink in the curling this time she is the skip of her nations team. For the last three year's she has come 4th in the European Championships.

Dominica -  Доминика Gary di Silvestri the husband of the husband and wife team will be taking the honour of carrying the flag of this debutant Winter Olympic nation. At 47 the cross country skier is also one of the oldest athletes in Sochi. The philanthropist skis in the men's 15km classical, his wife in the women's 10km version.

Zimbabwe - Зимбабве Luke Steyn although born in his nation moved to Switzerland at the age of two where he got his bug for snow. He is the first person to represent Zimbabwe, a nation where it never snows, in the Winter Games and will take part in the men's slalom and giant slalom.

Israel - Израиль Vladislav Bykanov is like the rest of the team born outside Israel, in his case in Ukraine. He is a short track speed skater who is the first Israeli athlete in that event to have qualified for the Olympics, he will be taking part in all of the individual events 500m, 1,000m and 1,500m.

Iran - Иран Hossein Saveh-Shemshak from Tehran is a 28-year-old alpine skier who along with his younger brother Pouria formed their nations men's Alpine team in Vancouver in 2010. He is once again taking part in the slalom and giant slalom, but this time alongside Iran's first ever Asian Winter Games medalist Mohammad Kiadarbandsari.

Individual Olympic Athletes - Индивидуальные Олимпийские Спортсмены would far rather be carrying the Tiranga of India rather than the Olympic Rings into the stadium but elections for these three athlete's NOC are not taking place for another two days.

Ireland - Ирландия Conor Lyne will turn 21 the day after the Games finish. The Irish skier is currently based in Utah (there not being a lot of snow in Ireland). He will be taking part in the slalom and giant slalom.

Iceland - Исландия Saevar Birgisson is an Olympic debutant and will take part in the men's 15km classical cross country.

Spain - Испания Javier Fernández the 22 year old figure skater from Madrid is a real medal contender for Spain. He is the current men's European champion and took bronze in the World Championship last year. If he does stand on the podium on Valentine's night it will be only the third Winter Olympic medal for Spain and the first since 1992 the year that Barcelona hosted the Summer Games and the last before the Winter Games broke from the same four year cycle.

Italy - Италия Armin Zöggeler at forty is looking to break an Olympic record for most medals in one individual event. He currently shares the record with fellow luger Georg Heckl and speed skater Claudia Pechstein (both of Germany). If he stands on the podium at the conclusion of the men's single luge on Sunday he will have set a new record with six medals stretching back to his gold at Lillehammer. He currently has two golds, a silver and two bronzes in his event.

Kazakhstan -  Казахстан Yerdos Akhmadiyev is the 28-year-old cross country skier who was only starting to compete in his sport when the last Olympics took place.

Cayman Isles - Каймановы Oстрова Dow Travers is the only athlete from his nation to have represented them at the Winter Games having done so also in 2010. He also represents his nation in Rugby 7s so could dream of qualifying for that new Olympic sport in Rio. He takes part in the slalom and giant slalom.

Canada - Канада Hayley Wickenheiser was the captain of the gold medal winning women's ice hockey team on home ice in Vancouver four years ago. It was her third gold to add to a silver at Nagano 1998. The forward has twice been MVP of the Olympic tournament in the past and has the most goals for a female Olympian since the sport appeared in those 1998 Games. She also appears in the 2000 Summer Games in Softball.

Cyprus - Кипр Constantinos Papamichael is a 20-year-old Alpine skier. He will compete in the slalom and giant slalom.

Kyrgyzstan  - Киргизия Dmitry Trelevski is taking part in his second Games. He will be adding the Super-G to the slalom and giant slalom that he competed in at Vancouver.

China - Китай Tong Jian together with her pairs partner and finacé Pang Qing won silver in the Figure Skating four years ago. At 34 she will also be the eldest of the 66 athletes from China who will cross the border to the Games in Russia.

Chinese Taipei - Китайский Тайбэй Sung Ching-yang is actually an inline skater who has switched to long track speed skating. He is the first speed skater to represent his country in the Olympics and is taking part in the men's 500m and 1,000m.

Latvia - Латвия Sandis Ozoliņš announced his retirement from international Ice Hockey after his second Olympic appearance in 2006. But the former NHL defenceman annouced he was coming out of retirement to help Latvia qualify for Sochi. At 41 he is likely to announce his second and final retirement from international hockey at the conclusion of these Games.

Lebanon - Ливан Alexandre Mohbat is only 18-years-old. He is an Alpine skier and will take part in the men's slalom and giant slalom.

Lithuania - Литва Deividas Stagniūnas an American based figure skater is finally making his Olympic debut. Along with his former Ice Dance partner American Katherine Copely they had qualified in 2010, but the IOC require competitors to be nationals of the country they represent and Copely application was turned down. This time after an intial rejection his partner another American Isabella Tobias was granted citizenship in December last year.

Liechtenstein - Лихтенштейн Tina Weirather is competing in her second Games after a debut in Turin in 2006 she damaged her ACL weeks before Vancouver when she had qualified for all four Alpine disciplines. At 24 she is in form this season with 9 podiums in the World Cup and is hoping to emulate her mother Hanni Wenzel who won two Olympic golds at Lake Placid in 1980 and uncle Andreas Wenzel who won silver there and bronze four years later in Sarejevo. She has once again qualified in giant slalom, super-G, downhill and combined.

Luxembourg - Люксембург Kari Peters is the first ever cross-country skier to represent Luxembourg. Of course they are more famous for the adoptive son Marc Giardelli who won two silvers in Alpine in 1992.

That completes the first half of the nations entering the stadium, there are only another 44 delegations to come.

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