When Todd Lodwick leads Team USA into the Olympic stadium on Friday night for the opening ceremony of the Sochi Games, the responsibility of the role of flagbearer won't be the only thing weighing on him.
The Stars and Stripes can get pretty heavy during a celebration that will last for a few hours. For a 37-year-old Nordic combined skier not even a month removed from a major shoulder injury, Lodwick could be forgiven for thinking about passing the flag to someone else to do the heavy lifting.
"No way," Lodwick says. "I'm going to carry that thing with pride."
Lodwick is the first American to compete in six Winter Games. His career started as a 17-year-old in Lillehammer in 1994, and he isn't taking this unprecedented longevity for granted. The father of two says his fondest memory as an Olympian was during the opening ceremony of his first one, when he ran over to the stands to take a picture with his mother.
He calls being the flagbearer this year a "huge honor" and a "nice bookend" to his career.
"I don't think that it will really hit me until they put that flag in my hand," he says. "It's something I never thought would've happened."
— Jon Krawczynski — Twitter: http://twitter.com/APKrawczynski
Associated Press reporters will be filing dispatches about happenings in and around Sochi during the 2014 Winter Games. Follow AP journalists covering the Olympics on Twitter: http://apne.ws/1c3WMiu