Sports

Virtue and Moir carry Canadian flag as Olympics open with dazzling spectacle

Virtue, of London, Ont., took the first turn with the Maple Leaf before passing it to Moir, of Ilderton, Ont., halfway through their tour of the venue.

Canadian ice dance team Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir lead team Canada into the Olympic stadium as the flag bearers during the opening ceremonies at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, on Friday, February 9, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Canadian ice dance team Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir lead team Canada into the Olympic stadium as the flag bearers during the opening ceremonies at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, on Friday, February 9, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

PYEONGCHANG, Korea, Republic Of — Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir were all smiles as they carried the Canadian flag into the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics on Friday.

The beaming figure skaters led Canada's red-clad contingent into Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium, one of 92 nations to enter the chilly 35,000-seat facility on a blustery night where temperatures dipped to -8 C with the wind chill.

Virtue, of London, Ont., took the first turn with the Maple Leaf before passing it to Moir, of Ilderton, Ont., halfway through their tour of the venue.

The pair won ice dance gold at the 2010 Games before capturing silver in 2014, and are a good bet to reach the podium again in South Korea.

The Canadians waved to the crowd, snapped selfies and danced to the music, but like the rest of the countries in the parade nations, they moved a little faster than usual to get to their seats — probably because of the cold.

The 225-member team is Canada's largest for a Winter Olympics, but some of the athletes skipped the festivities, while others indicated beforehand they would leave soon after their march around the pentagon-shaped stadium with the official start of competition looming Saturday.

Sam Edney was one Canadian athlete watching on television as he gears up for Saturday's first run of the luge men's singles competition. But he did post a picture of himself and other Canadian Olympians wearing comfortable pyjamas and sitting in beanbag chairs while taking in the festivities.

"4th Olympics AND a 4th time watching the opening ceremonies in a bean bag chair!! But this year we’ve got onesies!" he tweeted.

Freestyle ski star Mikael Kingsbury marched with the Canadian athletes just hours after finishing first in his qualifying run for the men's moguls final.

"Qualified in 1st place this morning. And walked to opening ceremony with @TeamCanada. What a good day," tweeted Kingsbury, posting a picture of himself standing under a piece of lighting rigging that resembled a halo.

Canada is taking part in 15 sports in South Korea and has been projected by data analysts to beat its previous high of 26 medals set eight years ago in Vancouver.

The best early opportunity at a podium finish comes Saturday in short-track speedskating with Charles Hamelin of Sainte-Julie, Que., in the men's 1,500 metres, and at the long-track oval where Ottawa's Ivanie Blondin is set to race in the women's 3,000.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wished Canada's athletes good luck in a statement released Friday and said the team's diverse makeup is a reflection of the country.

"When Team Canada marches into the Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium, young Canadians can look at our team and see themselves," Trudeau said. "Our Olympians hail from across the country and from all kinds of different backgrounds.

"Together, they represent the diversity that Canada so proudly stands for, and remind us all that no matter where we are from, we can succeed with drive and discipline."

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