FAIRFIELD, Conn. -- Four-time Olympian Julie Chu, a Fairfield native, has been elected to one of the highest honors at the Winter Games in Sochi: She will the carry the U.S. flag for the closing ceremony Sunday.
Chu, 31, is a forward on the U.S. women's hockey team She added an Olympic silver medal to her collection after a heartbreaking overtime loss to Canada on Thursday.
"It's such an honor," she said in an interview early Friday with NBC Connecticut of her role as flag bearer. "There are so many great athletes on Team USA, this is really humbling."
She also expressed gratitude to her hometown. "Thank you to Connecticut," she said. "No matter where I might reside, Fairfield will always be my home."
Cheered by her teammates later on the "Today" show, Chu gave them all the credit.
"I might get to physically carry the flag, but it's because our hockey team has been such an inspiration," she said, wiping tears from her eyes.
Ice dancer Charlie White, who won Olympic gold with partner Meryl Davis, offered his congratulations via Twitter @CharlieaWhite.
""So proud to have @juliechu13 carrying our flag in the Closing. One of the greatest people I've ever met & true embodiment of Olympic spirit," he said.
In her long Olympic career, Chu also won silver medals in 2002 and 2010 and a bronze in 2006. She has recorded 40 goals and 83 assists in 150 games with Team USA and served as assistant captain.
While growing up in Fairfield, Chu also played soccer and was a figure skater before becoming active in youth hockey. She and her mother, Miriam, became familiar faces in in a Procter & Gamble ad campaign during the Sochi Games.
“One of our family philosophies,’’ Julie says in the video, “is modeled after Chu. Commitment. Honor. Unity.” Julie talks about how she got her start in hockey, which began when she went to games for her brother, Richard. “I saw a spark in her eyes every time she put on her hockey skates,’’ Miriam says. “We wanted to give her that opportunity.” (Watch the video above.)
After graduating in 2001 from Choate Rosemary Hall, she deferred her acceptance into Harvard University until after the 2002 Winter Olympics. At Harvard, she studied psychology and graduated in 2007.
As a hockey player at Harvard, Chu became the all-time leading scorer in NCAA history and was also the team captain. She also won the Patty Kazmaier Award in 2007 for best female collegiate hockey player.
Chu plays for the Montreal Stars in the Canadian Women's Hockey League. She was also part of the 2005, 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2013 world champion women's hockey teams.
In her interview NBC Connecticut, Chu said she hoped her legacy would go beyond her four medals. "I'd like to be remembered as great sportsman and a tough competitor," she said.