For the second time in a month, a Utah athlete led Team USA’s athletes into Beijing’s National Stadium to kick off an international celebration of winter sport.
Park City native Danelle Umstead joined fellow alpine skier Tyler Carter in marching ahead of the 67-member United States delegation Friday as it entered the stadium best known as The Bird’s Nest. When much of the red-white-and-blue-adorned team stopped for a photo op the blind four-time Paralympian waved the American flag high.
Speedskater Brittany Bowe of Salt Lake City was granted a similar honor for the Feb. 4 Opening Ceremony of the Beijing Olympics. She was second in team voting and replaced bobsledder Elana Meyers Taylor, who could not perform the duty because she was in COVID quarantine after testing positive days before the event.
Umstead won double bronze, in the downhill and super-combined, in the women’s visually impaired class during her Winter Games debut in Vancouver 2010. She also collected bronze in Sochi 2014.
She is half of the only American married couple at the Beijing Paralympics. Umstead’s husband Rob, also a Park City native who has been her guide since 2008, surprised her with her selection.
“Everything I have done, he has been by my side,” she said, according to a Team USA press release. “He is so proud. This is such an honor, and I was completely shocked.”
The Opening Ceremony was aired live early Friday morning in Utah. It will be broadcast again from 6-9 p.m. Friday on NBC and Peacock networks with a focus on Team USA athletes.