YANQING, China – Asa Miller will carry the country’s colors for the second time in a row in the parade of nations that highlights the opening ceremony of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics on Friday, February 4.
“I’m extremely excited the first time, it was one of the best moments of my life,” Miller said on Thursday after another day of training at the National Alpine Skiing Centre atop the Xiaohaituo Mountain. “And I can’t wait to do it for the second time.”
Joining the 21-year-old alpine skier in the parade are Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino, Philippine Ski and Snowboard Federation head Jim Palomar, and chef de mission Bones Floro.
The Portland-based alpine skier is the country’s sole representative in the Beijing Games unlike in Pyeongchang 2018 where figure skater Michael Martinez vied in his second consecutive Olympics.
“It feels great that it’s real now,” Miller said. “And it feels great to be in China again – the Olympic spirit and the culture all over the place, as well as the other athletes – they’re very fun and motivating.”
A then 14-year old Miller was involved in an exchange student program in Beijing in 2014 making him quite familiar with the Chinese culture.
Athletes from 91 countries will be marching during the parade of nations with the Philippines entering the massive and grand venue – the National Stadium, also known as “The Bird’s Nest” – in Beijing at No. 69.
The ceremony starts at 8 pm and is expected to last for one hour and 40 minutes.
As in every major international sports competitions, the program is kept under wraps until it begins, although three-time Academy Award nominee Zhang Yimou, who also directed the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Summer Olympics in the same venue, described the ceremony as “simple, safe and splendid.”
The show will feature 3,000 performers, most of which are teenagers, and Zhang said “things will be a lot different” this time.
Miller and company will leave the Yanqing Athletes Village around noon on Friday for the two-hour bus ride to “The Birds’ Nest.”
The 5-foot-8 Miller, who’s gotten bigger and stronger than 2018, is competing in the men’s giant slalom on February 13 and slalom three days later.
“I hope to do better this time around, I was really, really proud the last time and I’m prouder and more motivated this time,” he said.
A total of 2,781 athletes are vying in 15 disciplines, with events in curling and luge starting two days ahead of the opening ceremony last Wednesday, and freestyle skiing, ice hockey, and ski jumping commencing on Thursday. The team event in figure skating opens on Friday.
The Games – spread out in three major venues in Beijing, Yanqing, and Zhangjiakou – end on February 20.
It wasn’t immediately known how many spectators will be allowed at the 80,000-seat National Stadium for the opening ceremony. – Rappler.com