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Olympics Speed skater Kim Boutin named Canada’s flag bearer for closing ceremony

Canada's silver medallist Kim Boutin poses on the podium during the medal ceremony for the short track Women's 1000m at the Pyeongchang Medals Plaza during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang on February 23, 2018.


Kim Boutin's first Olympics were a roller-coaster ride of the highest of highs, and of frightening lows.

Sunday, the short-track speedskater will put a punctuation mark on her Pyeongchang Games when she carries Canada's flag into the closing ceremonies.

"I have so much emotion so I can't put the word on which emotion, it was a mix of scared and angry and happy," Boutin said in summing up her Games.

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The 23-year-old from Sherbrooke, Que., carried on Canada's strong tradition in short-track speedskating, racing to three medals in Pyeongchang – silver in the 1,000 metres, and bronze in both the 500 and 1,500.

But she was also the target of online vitriol and death threats after South Korean star Minjeong Choi was disqualified in the 500. Some South Korean fans blamed Boutin.

"At one moment I was really scared for my security, but all the people around told me that I didn't have to (worry), everything was in control," Boutin said. "I was trying to be happy about my medal, because it was a big challenge in the 500, I still continued to beat my fear (of) the speed, in this distance especially.

"So that was a surprise for me to be in the final, and I was trying to think that I really deserved this medal."

Then came heartbreak for Boutin and her teammates in the 3,000-metre relay. They were celebrating bronze, only to be disqualified moments later. Officials ruled Boutin had impeded the South Korean and Chinese skaters when they were racing to the finish line. Boutin had been looking for her teammate waiting to be tagged into the race.

"In our sport it happens, and I think my emotion was really rough on me, because it was my disqualification," she said at a Canadian Olympic Committee news conference Saturday. "I was maybe sad for my teammates because I had already jumped on the podium, and they didn't."

Boutin will lead Canada's largest – 225 athletes – and most successful team in winter Olympic history into Pyeongchang Stadium.

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Isabelle Charest, Canada's chef de mission and a former speedskater, delivered the good news.

"I started to cry a little bit," Boutin said. "I was alone and she told me to keep it to myself too, so that was pretty hard. I was pretty excited, and that was a big honour because I know there are so many athletes that deserved that."

Ice dancers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir were Canada's flag-bearers at the opening ceremony.

Two-time Olympic bobsled champions Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse carried Canada's flag in the closing ceremonies four years ago in Sochi.

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