SOCHI, Russia — Women's ice hockey forward Julie Chu has endured ample heartache failing to win a gold medal in four Olympics, but the U.S. Olympic Committee honored her with the lead role at Sunday's closing ceremony.
Chu's fellow American athletes voted her to be the flag bearer for Team USA in the parade. The former University of Minnesota-Duluth coach is a three-time silver medalist who also won bronze in 2006. Chu is the second-most decorated U.S. female in Olympic Winter Games history behind Bonnie Blair.
"I'm completely humbled and kind of in shock; I never imagined that this would happen, especially knowing how strong the U.S. delegation is," said Chu. "Our team has so many inspiring athletes who I've gotten a chance to root for.
This is special, and I don't take it lightly. Thank you for this great honor."
Chu played for Harvard and won the 2008 NCAA championship as an assistant coach at UMD. At 31 years old she is the oldest player on the U.S. women's hockey roster. Over the years she has been a goal scorer, captain, fourth-line grinder and den mother.
Introspective and honest Chu also has been a go-to interview over the years for her measured perspective following tough losses and the state of women's hockey.
"She has been a tremendous ambassador for her sport and our athletes, and will continue to be a world-class representative of our nation at the closing ceremony and beyond," said USOC CEO Scott Blackmun.
Chu is the second ice hockey player to serve as flag bearer for Team USA. Cammi Granato first held the honor in 1998 after leading the U.S. women to the inaugural Olympic gold medal at the Nagano Games.