Alex “Chumpy” Pullin has been announced as Australia’s flagbearer at the opening ceremony for the Sochi Winter Olympics on Friday.
The two-time Winter Olympian was something of a surprise choice ahead of Lydia Lassila, a four-Games veteran and 2010 Vancouver gold medallist.
Pullin, though, clearly represents the new face of winter sport in Australia.
A two-time world champion in snowboard cross, he is a warm favourite to take gold in Sochi.
He had qualified first in the event at the Vancouver Games but disappointingly crashed out in his first head-to-head race.
Since then he has gone from strength to strength, claiming two overall World Cup crowns as well as his double world championship success.
Joined by such luminaries as James Packer and Lachlan Murdoch in a formal team reception at the Sochi mountain village of Rosa Khutor, Pullin was presented the flag by Lassila, who carried it at the 2010 closing ceremony.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott offered up a video message to the 60-member team, 43 of whom were present at the function.
Pullin, 26, said he was lapping up the focus on him and didn’t mind the extra responsibility.
“That’s what we sign up for as competitors,” he said.
“Every competition involves expectations.” Australian chef de mission Ian Chesterman said he’d been thinking about who to pick for six months and only literally made a decision in the last few days.
He described Pullin as “the face of winter sport in Australia”.