Sport Winter Olympics 2018 Winter Olympics 2018: Scotty James named Australia’s flag bearer

Winter Olympics 2018: Scotty James named Australia’s flag bearer

Scotty James Winter Olympics
Snowboarder Scotty James will be Australia's flag bearer. Photo: ABC
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At just 23, Scotty James is already a deliberate, polished professional.

Australia’s 2018 flag bearer is a three-time Olympian and will be one of the nation’s strongest medal chances in PyeongChang.

“I have heard a couple times that I’m a veteran now,” he said after being presented with the Australian flag by chef de mission Ian Chesterman.

“I definitely have a lot of experience now and I’m just excited to compete and do what I came here to do.”

He has been doing that with tremendous success over the last two years.

James is no stranger to the spotlight, even if that is not always in Australia.

He is the reigning world champion in his event and is a frequent medallist on the World Cup and X-Games tours in the northern hemisphere.

For a young man that spends so much time abroad, he has never lost his connection to Australia.

James says his memory of Andrew Gaze waving the flag at the Sydney Olympics resonates strongly with him.

He is also aware that this team is one of the best Australia has sent to a Winter Olympics.

“It’s an absolute privilege and honour to be walking out in front of this awesome team,” he said.

“When I found out, I was over the moon, I was lost for words and then it really came to me that something amazing had just happened.”

Scotty James Winter Olympics
James is no stranger to the spotlight, even if that is not always in Australia. Photo: ABC

Australia’s athletes gathered at an upbeat team reception on the eve of the Games to celebrate the flagbearer announcement and were excitedly talking about the sport to come.

But James will march in an opening ceremony that even the most ardent sports fans will admit has as much, if not more, significance to global diplomacy than it does to the Olympics.

North and South Korean athletes will march together under one flag, while political figures including US Vice-President Mike Pence and North Korean officials will attend the event.

“I’ve seen some of the political stuff. I just hope that the focus is on the athletes,” James said.

“I think the Olympics is about everyone coming together and everyone competing in good faith and that will be what happens.”

James has handled delicate subjects already this week.

He delivered a carefully crafted swipe at half-pipe judges hours before the flag-bearer announcement.

Lamenting the perfect score given to his rival, American superstar Shaun White, at a recent event, James said he could “feel a bit shafted” at events.

It was a calculated comment.

“The biggest thing that frustrated me is that I have been working my whole life and I put my life on the line every day snowboarding and I work so hard and some silly people behind the desk dictate some score which is really frustrating for me sometimes,” he said.

James can do that when half-pipe qualification begins on Tuesday.

“I’ve got some fierce competition out there and we’ve had some fantastic battles out this year already,” he said.

“It’s a very exciting time for snowboarding halfpipe and you know just looking forward to [my event] and I’ll let my riding do the rest.”