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OLYMPIC NOTEBOOK

Luger Erin Hamlin chosen to carry US flag

File/associated press

Luger Erin Hamlin won a coin toss to carry the US flag at the opening ceremoney after she tied speedskate Shani Davis (right) in the athlete vote.

Associated Press 

It was a feel-good story for a few hours: Luge veteran Erin Hamlin gets the chance to enter her last Olympics carrying the US flag into the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang Games, winning that distinction after a vote by some of her fellow athletes.

And then Shani Davis tweeted.

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With that, the entire process was called into controversy. The tweet posted to Davis’s account said the process by which Hamlin won was executed ‘‘dishonorably,’’ and included a reference to Black History Month — raising the question of whether the speedskater was suggesting that race played a role in the decision. Davis is black, Hamlin is white.

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‘‘We feel strongly toward Shani and they felt strongly for Erin,’’ US speedskater Joey Mantia said. ‘‘That’s just that.’’

Hamlin and Davis were among eight nominees for the flagbearer role, and athletes from each of the eight winter sports federations — bobsled and skeleton, ski and snowboarding, figure skating, curling, biathlon, hockey, speedskating, and luge — represented those nominees in a balloting that took place Wednesday night.

Eventually, the final vote was deadlocked at 4-4. Hamlin won a coin toss, the predetermined method of picking a winner if all else failed in the athlete-led process.

The US Olympic Committee confirmed the tie, and that voters knew if the tie couldn’t be broken by them the coin toss would have to occur.

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USA Luge declined comment on the tweet. Calls placed to Davis’s phone rang unanswered, and his agent Ian Baranski did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

Hours before the tweet was posted, Hamlin was beaming about the opportunity. The four-time Olympian told the story about how her parents, Ron and Eileen Hamlin, always wrestle with the decision about whether to spend the money for high-priced tickets to the opening ceremony — and in the end, always go to see their daughter march into the stadium with her US teammates.

‘‘I think they’re going to be really glad that they made that decision,’’ Hamlin said.

‘‘They’re really pumped. I'm sure my brothers will be. We've grown up watching the Olympics and we’re always like, ‘Who’s going to be carrying the flag?’ And to actually be that person is insane.’’

Hamlin’s teammates were thrilled by the news, both because of what it will mean for her and what it means for the niche sport of luge.

Russians excluded

Sports' highest court has rejected appeals by 45 Russian athletes plus two coaches who were banned from the PyeongChang Olympics. The International Olympic Committee had refused to invite the group of Russians, saying it had evidence of alleged doping in Russian sports. The Court of Arbitration for Sport handed down its rulings less than nine hours before the Opening Ceremony.

Rippon narrows focus

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Adam Rippon doesn’t want his monthlong dispute with Mike Pence over the vice president’s record on gay rights to overshadow his long-awaited Olympic performance.

Or those of the rest of the American team.

One of two openly gay US athletes at the Pyeongchang Games, Rippon criticized the White House last month for choosing Pence to lead its official delegation for Friday’s opening ceremony.

Pence has been considered an opponent of the LGBT community after the conservative vice president signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in March 2015 while serving as governor of Indiana.

Critics said the legislation encouraged discrimination against gay people. An amendment with protections for the LGBT community was passed a week later.

‘‘I don’t want to make this too much for my competitors and for my teammates,’’ Rippon said after an afternoon practice session Thursday. ‘‘I'm just kind of focused on the competition. The opening ceremony is tomorrow. I don’t mind talking about it but I don’t want to distract my teammates.’’

Pence, who arrived in Seoul on Thursday, also tried to bury the story. He tweeted to Rippon: ‘‘I want you to know we are FOR YOU. Don’t let fake news distract you. I am proud of you and ALL OF OUR GREAT athletes and my only hope for you and all of #TeamUSA is to bring home the gold. Go get ‘em!’’

Rippon’s practice session ended before Pence’s tweet, but his mother, Kelly Rippon, told CNN she objected to the vice president calling the story ‘‘fake news.’’

‘‘When people keep saying that word, ‘fake news,’ over and over again it implies that you can do things and you can never be held accountable for them because you just say that it’s fake,’’ Kelly Rippon said. ‘‘That repetition of that term I don’t think is good.’’

Strict drug testing

There was an offseason when US skeleton athlete Katie Uhlaender got a knock on her door from drug testers 19 times in the span of a few weeks. Sometimes they wanted blood. Sometimes they wanted urine. Often, they wanted both. Uhlaender and other members of the US skeleton team suggested Thursday that the rest of the world should follow the testing model employed by the US Anti-Doping Agency, especially with the ongoing fallout from the Russian doping scandal that saw widespread accusations of cheating and now a belief that many flat-out beat a broken system . . . One of Mikaela Shiffrin’s expected main rivals in slalom is out of the Olympics after crashing hard in training and tearing a ligament in her knee. The Swiss ski team says 19-year-old Melanie Meillard ruptured the ACL in her left knee during a fall in giant slalom practice Thursday.

The process is annoying. It’s also effective, so Uhlaender and her teammates wonder why it’s not the global standard.

‘‘I'd love if the global model adopted ours,’’ three-time US men’s skeleton Olympian John Daly said. ‘‘We get tested pretty strictly, as does Canada. Everyone else? You talk to some of the other athletes, they don’t even know how to fill out the paperwork. The testing isn’t happening. We don’t care if our testing is strict. That’s fine with me. We just want the rest of the world to be like ours.’’

The team says she will fly home Friday to prepare for surgery.

Meillard was expected to start in the Olympic giant slalom on Monday, then slalom on Wednesday, when American star Shiffrin defends her title.

She arrived at her first Olympics in sixth place in the World Cup slalom standings, which Shiffrin leads.

The Swiss racer had five top-10 finishes in slalom this season and a first career podium finish when third in a parallel racing event last month.