PyeongChang, February 9, 2018 - At the parade of the participants during the Opening Ceremony of the Winter Olympics in the Korean city of PyeongChang, the Croatian flag was carried by our most experienced skier, 32-year-old Natko Zrnčić Dim.

The host has done everything to keep these Olympic unforgettable from the very start. Despite a ten-degree minus, a lavish entertainment program was organized, pervaded with the Korean history, tradition and technological progress, while the long-sold-out stadium wholeheartedly greeted the representatives of 91 National Olympic Committees and the Russian Olympians marching under the Olympic flag. Understandably, the united Korea’s National Team received the greatest applause.
From the moment when the Greek Alpine skier, Sophie Ralli, reached the Olympic stadium with the Olympic homeland’s flag, there was euphoria that did not stop despite the temperature minus. A frantic applause was triggered by the trophy national figure skater Yuna Kim (Olympic gold 2010, silver 2014) that lit the final Olympic torch of Winter Olympics in PyeongChang. Otherwise, Kim was the winner of the Zagreb’s Golden Spin in 2013 and, along with Sanda Dubravčić (Sarajevo 1984), the only Spin winner to light the Winter Olympics’ torch...

Thirty athletes and representatives of the Croatian Olympic delegation, headed by Natko Zrnčić Dim, marched down the stadium as an overture in the following appearance of the united Korean Olympic Team. All our bobsleighers, female skiers (except the injured Lana Zbašnik), luger, coaches and members of the Mission were in the festive parade. Natko Zrnčić Dim, as the Croatian flag bearer, was – by this honor and duty - among several true legends of winter sports, especially two ski jumping veterans - Japanese Noriaki Kasai (45) and Finland’s Janne Ahonen (40). Natko was visibly excited during the ceremony, but also an excellent flag bearer:
"An amazing feeling, there were a lot of emotions present when entering the stadium, even more than I thought. A special experience, heart and excitement... Despite the great cold, I was even a bit hot, I was trying to wave with a flag, there was a light wind blowing, but I think it did disturb me and that all went as it should have been... There are performances ahead of us, but also the announcements on weather worsening, I just hope that everything will be according to the plan, i.e., for all the athletes a fair competition under the same conditions...
The host country, Republic of Korea, will have the largest ever Winter Olympics Team, with 144 athletes in all 15 sports disciplines. Previously, at the Sochi Olympics2014, there were 71 athletes. The neighboring Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) will be represented by 22 athletes in five disciplines (along with S.Korea’s team in Women's Ice Hockey). Due to the knee injury of the skier Lana Zbašnik, Croatia will be represented at Winter Olympics by 19 female and male athletes.
There will be as many as six states debuting at the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang: Ecuador (Cross-country skiing), Eritrea and Kosovo (Alpine skiing), Malaysia (Figure skating), Nigeria (Bob and Skeleton) and Singapore (Short track speed skating). (coc/vk)