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.
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.
‘‘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.
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.
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
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.
‘‘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!’’
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.