Christian Ehrhoff came straight from the gold medal game in coastal Gangneung to the PyeongChang Olympic Stadium in the mountains as Germany's flag bearer. Photo: Martin Merk
Closing ceremonies feature touch of hockey
Christian Ehrhoff didn’t win a gold medal, but the veteran defenceman did get a silver – and the chance to carry the German flag at the closing ceremonies.
Sunday night turned out to be pretty amazing in PyeongChang, even though the grand drama of the Olympic Athletes from Russia’s 4-3 overtime victory over Ehrhoff’s spunky Germans was a tough act to follow.
Ehrhoff, 35, finally handed off the flag to a volunteer and enthusiastically clapped as he followed a pair of mascots during the athletes’ procession. He appeared energized despite logging a team-high 26:15 in the hard-fought gold medal game.
About representing his country one more time at the closing ceremonies, Ehrhoff said after the final: “Oh, it’s amazing. I’m so excited. You know, it was a little downer when we got the OT goal against. Kind of, we had a hand on the gold medal, but still, you know, I’m so proud of my team and we played such a great Olympics. We're going home with a medal and it’s just a great honour. We’re so excited.”
Some 35,000 excited spectators packed the Olympic Stadium to witness a captivating spectacle that was far less chilly than the opening ceremonies. A gigantic illuminated Prayer Pagoda took centre stage as 13-year-old neo-classical rock guitarist Yang Tae-hwan shredded through Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. The awarding of cross-country ski medals, K-Pop star CL’s performance of her hit “The Baddest Female,” and a mind-bending modern art-dance performance entitled “The Axis of Time” were just some of the other highlights.
“Over 3,000 athletes from 92 teams around the world have become friends in their pursuit of excellence,” said Moon Jae-in, President of the Republic of Korea.
IOC President Thomas Bach highlighted the peaceful cooperation between the two Koreas at these Games, which included the unified Korean women’s ice hockey team that earned global attention. Bach added: “The role of the media has been crucial in making this possible, by bringing to life the unforgettable moments from PyeongChang 2018 for a global audience.”
The new members of the IOC Athletes’ Commission were welcomed, and former Finnish national hockey team captain Emma Terho (nee Laaksonen) waved jubilantly to the crowd alongside American cross-country skier Kikkan Randall.
Terho is a five-time Olympian who won bronze in 1998 and 2010 and added four more Women’s Worlds bronzes in 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2009. She will serve an eight-year term as the term of current chairwoman and IIHF Hall of Famer Angela Ruggiero ends. Ruggiero won the inaugural Olympic women’s hockey gold in 1998 and scored the shootout gold that gave the U.S. its first Women’s Worlds title in 2005, among other numerous achievements,
After the Beijing 2022 flag handover and the extinguishing of the Olympic flame, a huge electronic dance party lit by fireworks concluded the peaceful festivities. A giant balloon hockey player entered the stadium during the closing stages.
It was all a great reminder that in the world of sports, nothing tops the Olympics. See you again in four years in Beijing!