Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Hayley Wickenheiser was named Canada's flag-bearer for the Sochi Games. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Hayley Wickenheiser will lead the Canadian Olympic contingent into the Opening Ceremony of the Sochi Olympic Winter Games on Feb. 7.
The hockey player was named the Canadian team’s flag-bearer at a Canadian Olympic Committee press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, although she was unable to be physically in attendance in the nation's capital since Wickenheiser was training in Europe ahead of the Games.
The 35-year-old from Shaunavon, Sask. is a decorated Olympic veteran, having won three gold and one silver in the last four Winter Games. Wickenheiser and her teammates will be looking for another podium finish in the former captain's fifth Olympic appearance.
“This is an incredible honour and one that means so much to me after having represented Canada in hockey for so many years,” Wickenheiser said. “Today, I have been chosen as Canada’s flag-bearer, but today is about carrying the hopes and dreams of nearly 35 million Canadians to Sochi.
"I can’t wait to lead an amazing group of athletes who have dedicated their lives to achieving their Olympic dreams for both themselves and Canada.”
Scott Russell, host of CBC Sports Weekend, says it's clear why Wickenheiser was chosen by the COC.
“She has had the most distinguished career of any athlete in her sport and because she is hopefully going to take the aspirations of Canadian Olympians into the future as a member of the IOC.”
The entire Canadian women's hockey team will march in the opening ceremony, which is one night before their Olympic tournament opener against Switzerland.
Wickenheiser joins select company when it comes to Canadian flag-bearers at the Winter Games - speed skater Clara Hughes carried the flag into the Vancouver Games in 2010, and Joannie Rochette was selected at the closing ceremony flag-bearer that year.
Danielle Goyette was the last women's hockey player to get the honour - she carried the flag into the Turin Games in 2006.