Curler Lauren Ragala carries Canadian flag at Youth Olympics

Lasalle celebrates Lauren Rajala as she heads to Youth Winter Olympics

GARSON – Lauren Ragala of Garson, granddaughter of Irwin and Mary Lewis of Kagawong, has been named the flag bearer for the opening of the 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games. Lauren curls out of the Idylwylde Golf and Country Club in Sudbury will carry the national flag during tomorrow’s (Thursday’s) opening ceremony in Lausanne, Switzerland. The games get underway on Friday.

“We are all very excited,” said Ms. Lewis. “We knew about it at Christmas, but we couldn’t tell anyone until it was officially announced.”

Her granddaughter has been tearing up the curling scene in Ontario, playing for the Crozier Rink and last year the 17-year-old won gold at the Canada Winter Games and the national U18 playdowns serving as lead on Team Croisier.

Lauren’s curling chops are deeply ingrained, having taken to the sport since tender age of seven. “Her father is a curler and her younger brother is coming up as a curler too,” said her grandmother.

Lauren’s grandparents had intended to be at the games to cheer her on, but Mr. Lewis’s knee surgery was delayed until late November and he cannot fly overseas yet.

“I guess we will be watching it live on CBC with the rest of Canada,” said Ms. Lewis philosophically.

“I am a little disappointed that they can’t be there, but I am just happy that he is well and on his way to being better,” Lauren told The Expositor on Monday.

Although she had known for a while that she had been selected as the flag bearer, Lauren had to keep the news under wraps until it was officially announced. “The hardest part was keeping it from my teammates,” she admitted. “I sent them all a link as soon as I was able.”

Lauren admits to being a little nervous about carrying in the national flag, but is taking it in stride. “I think being a little nervous is to be expected, right?” she laughs. There has been a bit of media attention since the announcement, but one of the nicest surprises was the small party thrown on her behalf by her school and classmates at Lasalle Secondary School. “It was a nice send-off,” she said.

Lauren will be joined at the event by a Canadian delegation consisting of 77 athletes and 24 coaches where they will be joined by some 1,900 athletes between the ages of 15 and 18 from over 70 countries.

She flies from Sudbury to Toronto and then on to Montreal for the flight to Switzerland, arriving at 10 am on Wednesday. It is Lauren’s first overseas event and she will have a day to acclimatize and shake off any jet lag before the opening ceremonies on Thursday and then on to the sheets Friday.