Canada’s darlings on skates, ice dancers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, have been selected as the country’s flagbearers for the 2018 winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. The announcement was made yesterday, and Virtue says it will be the “pinnacle” of their career. Although pairs have held the maple leaf into closing ceremonies before, it will be the first time a duo has ever carried the Canadian flag in the Olympic opening ceremonies and the first time in 24 years that a figure skater has been chosen for the honor.

The country's greatest Olympic ambassadors

The president of the Canadian Olympic Committee called Virtue and Moir “two of our country’s greatest ambassadors to the Olympic movement.” Although the skaters had to be quiet with this information since they were asked last weekend if they would accept the honor, they were all smiles at yesterday’s press conference and said they were thrilled.

Tessa Virtue is from London, Ontario, and Scott Moir hails from Ilderton, Ontario. The couple now trains in Montreal and have been skating together for 20 years. They have collected some impressive hardware over the years. Their accolades include Olympic gold at the 2010 Vancouver games, a silver medal in Sochi, and eight first-place standings at the Canadian national figure skating championships.

The 2018 Olympic figure skating team

The 2018 Canadian Olympic figure skating team has shaped up to be a fierce roster of competitors. Patrick Chan and Keegan Messing will represent Canada in the Men’s singles event while Gabrielle Daleman, Kaetlyn Osmond, and Larkyn Austman will skate in the Women’s singles. Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford won the Canadian national title for pairs skaters last week and are expected to do well in Pyeongchang as well.

While Tessa and Scott are the favorites heading into the Games, Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje are also strong ice dancers.

Big shoes - er, skates - to fill

There have been five figure skaters who have previously been Olympic flag bearers, including Kurt Browning in 1994, Brian Orser in 1988, Karen Magnussen in 1972, Robert Paul in 1960, and Norris Bowden in 1956.

Four years ago, it was Hayley Wickenheiser of Team Canada’s women’s hockey team who carried the flag into Vancouver’s Olympic opening ceremonies. Virtue and Moir may be breaking ground as the first pair to enter the games bearing the Canadian flag, but their predecessors have cast a long shadow.

More big news

The news of this Canadian first came just before today’s announcement that the IOC is considering allowing the North and South Korean athletes to march together and to form joint teams for several sports.

The 2018 winter Olympics will officially open on February 9 with a two-hour ceremony at the Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium.