Saskia Alusalu says that bearing the Estonian flag at the Olympics Opening Ceremony is a great honor and special recognition for her. “This is the first time Estonia is represented in speed skating at the Olympic Games in 50 years,” Alusalu noted. “It is, of course, a task involving immense responsibility and at the same time one of the most festive occasions in my sporting career so far,” she added.
According to the Estonian chef de mission Martti Raju, selecting the flag-bearer was not difficult. “It has been 50 years since an Estonian last competed in speed skating at the Olympic Games. The fact that Estonia is back at the Olympics in this sport, which is very important for the country, is worth emphasizing and celebrating,” Raju said. “Saskia Alusalu is also one of the most successful athletes on our Olympic team as far as her achievements are concerned (10th place at the World Championship in 2015), which became another argument in her favor.”
It is the first time 23-year-old Saskia Alusalu is taking part in the Olympic Games. She will be competing in the mass start event in PyeongChang. Her coach is Tristan Loy. Saskia Alusalu has twice made it into the top ten in European Championships (10th place in 2011 and 7th place in 2013). Her best achievements in World Championships are the 10th place in 2015 and the 21st place in 2016.
Alusalu is the second Estonian speed skater to bear the flag at the Olympics Opening. At the opening ceremony of the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville the country’s flag-bearer was Olympic winner Ants Antson.29 members of Team Estonia will be participating in the Olympic Games opening ceremony, including 13 athletes: in addition to Saskia Alusalu, also cross-country skiers Karel Tammjärv, Marko Kilp, Raido Ränkel, alpine skier Anna Lotta Jõgeva, biathletes Roland Lessing, Kauri Kõiv, Johan Talihärm, Kalev Ermits, Rene Zahkna, ski jumpers Kevin Maltsev, Artti Aigro and speed skater Marten Liiv.
Also participating will be the following members of the support team: Raul Seema, Asko Saarepuu, Kaire Leibak, Deyvid Oprja, Indrek Tobreluts, Ilkka Luttunen, Eeri Vahtra, Kaarel Kuusik, Kalmer Tramm, Keio Kits, Tristan Loy, Väino Treiman, Hillar Hein, Jaan Jüris, Aivo Normak and Merle Kaljurand.