On the same day that he won Team Canada’s first gold medal of the 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games in Lausanne, freestyle skier Andrew Longino was given a second honour – being named as the country’s Closing Ceremony flag bearer.
The 17-year-old from Calgary began the penultimate day of Lausanne 2020 by finishing first in the boys’ ski halfpipe event. Longino dominated the competition in which each athlete performed three runs, of which only the highest scoring would count towards the final results.
The 87.66 points Longino earned in his first run would have secured the gold medal, but he continued to improve with each run, posting 94.00 in his final trip down the pipe. American Hunter Carey claimed the silver with 86.00 points while New Zealander Luca Harrington was third with 80.66 points.
“It’s a true honour,” Longino said of being selected as Canada’s Closing Ceremony flag bearer. “I’ve been watching the Olympics since I was a kid and to bring the flag in and lead the country into the Closing Ceremony will be very special and I feel very honoured and very lucky,”
As for his gold medal performance, Longino made a change to his pre-competition playlist after watching the movie Rocketman while travelling to Switzerland.
“I never really listened to that much Elton John before but I got really fired up on that movie so I just decided before my run to switch it up and I put on Rocketman by Elton John and it got me in the right mindset.”
Longino, a member of Freestyle Canada’s Next Gen team, competed in his first career World Cup event in September 2019. He spent most of the last couple of years competing on the Nor-Am Cup circuit, highlighted by a pair of halfpipe victories at Copper Mountain, Colorado in December 2019.
Longino has been park skiing since he was nine years old. At that time, he instantly fell in love with learning new tricks while pushing himself to overcome his fears. He is now a student at the National Sport School in Calgary where his athletic and academic endeavors can both be accommodated.
He follows in the footsteps of ski cross racer Reece Howden who carried the maple leaf in the Closing Ceremony at Lillehammer 2016 and snowboarder Audrey McManiman who had the honour at Innsbruck 2012. Curler Lauren Rajala carried the Canadian flag into the Lausanne 2020 Opening Ceremony when the Games began on January 9.
Lausanne 2020 comes to a close on Wednesday, Team Canada will be playing in the boys’ bronze medal hockey game, but there are also medals to be awarded in mixed doubles curling, freestyle skiing and snowboard big air as well as short track speed skating before the flame is extinguished.