After Jason Lamy Chappuis for France and Todd Lodwick for the USA, a third Nrdic Combined athlete has been chosen to carry the flag of his country at the Opening Ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi tomorrow: Mario Stecher. The 36-year-old Austrian only came in after his brother-in-law, alpine skier Benny Raich who was originally chosen to carry the flag had to delay his arrival in Sochi due to health reasons.
Stecher, who is a two-time Olympic champion with the team was overjoyed: "It is a huge honour to carry the flag for our country", he said told press agency APA "I am happy because I have quite some Olympic experiences already. I have been asked on Monday and of course was happy to oblige."
The president of the Austrian Olympic Committee, Karl Stoss was sorry for Raich's cancellation but happy to have Stecher come in as flag bearer: "After Benni's cancellation, the job basically stays in the family, as Mario is his brother-in-law. He has been at the Olympics for six times and won two gold medals in Nordic Combined in 2006 and 2010 as starter on the final leg for team Austria. These were great competitions."