Closing Ceremony

Wow. What a ride.

I’m sitting in the lounge (Thanks Matt Whitcomb!) at the Incheon Airport in Seoul, waiting to board a flight to Moscow and then onto Helsinki.

I imagine it will take me a while to fully process these Olympics, and I’m struggling to make any grandiose statement about the entire experience. However, I know that I will cherish these memories forever. It has been an incredible privilege to be a part of Team USA, and these Olympics, more than any other event in my career, have helped me understand what it means to be an athlete. These Games offered me a fundamentally different experience from Sochi. Because I am older, because I am more social and better connected to Team USA and many international athletes, because we were living in a much larger Olympic Village, because the geopolitical tension on the Korean peninsula intersected intimately with these Games, and because the narrative of these Olympics in the US was more human and less adversarial than Sochi, these Games have helped me grasp the positive role that sport plays in society. Even though I did not have exciting results, my ski career feels more meaningful and less selfish than it ever has before.

You, the readers of this blog, have played a major role in my Olympic experience. Sharing it with you, and feeling tremendous support in return, is one of the defining features of my Games experience. Over 15,000 unique users have visited this site in the past 23 days since I arrived in Korea. I am blown away by your interest and entirely positive feedback. Thank you!

I do not plan to continue blogging daily, but I anticipate posting a couple of updates over the next two weeks while I am racing on the World Cup. I will also write about my plans for the future as they come into sharper focus. Thank you for continuing to follow along and for your continued support.

Yesterday I went to the venue to watch the final cross-country ski race of the Olympics: the women’s 30K classic.

A bunch of my teammates went to watch as well. Here are Andy Newell and Kaitlyn Miller.

After a hectic 3 days since winning Gold in the Team Sprint with Kikkan Randall, Jessie Diggins competed in her sixth race of the Olympics.

I don’t know how she was still standing, let alone racing 30K.

Yet somehow she found some reserve of energy and skied a gutsy race in route to a seventh place finish.

In a testament to how good she’s been at these Games, seventh was her worst placing of the six races.

Sadie Bjornsen was the second American finisher in the race.

Sadie finished 17th.

I know that she wanted better, and she’s proven many times that she is capable of better but yesterday just wasn’t her day to show it.

Rosie Frankowski had an amazing 21st place finish in her first Olympic start.

She was moving up all day long.

Caitlin Patterson rounded out four US women in the top 30 with a 26th place finish.

Caitlin will be back for more, that much I am sure of.

The race was won in unbelievably dominating fasion by Marit Bjørgen, the most decorated Winter Olympian of all time.

She earned her eighth gold and 15th total Olympic medal.

She is a remarkable athlete.

It was nice to see that she still gets emotional when she wins.

And her teammates still get psyched for her! Here’s Astrid Jacobsen, who did not get to race yesterday but was out cheering.

Finland’s Krista Parmakoski took silver.

Sweden’s Stina Nilsson took bronze.

After the race I did some rushed packing before the closing ceremonies. We took buses back to the stadium and staged in the same tent as Opening Ceremonies.

This time, unlike Opening, many athletes had medals around their necks. Here’s Aspen’s Alex Ferreira.

Because we walk as “one world”, rather than as countries, in the Closing Ceremony, we were able to do a lot more mixing before walking in.

But we still found our teammates for pictures.

Like our Opening jackets, our Closing ones are electrically heated.

Here are Simi Hamilton and Sophie Caldwell.

Kikkan looks good with a little gold around her neck.

The feeling of walking into the stadium never gets old.

So much light!

Even though we could all mingle, we still ended up in groups of USA athletes.

The atmosphere was a little more relaxed than Opening. Here’s Alpine Skier Nolan Kasper lifting Sophie.

We were all keeping our eyes out for Jessie carrying the US flag.

There are cameras everywhere.

The women’s hockey team all had gold around their necks.

We found Jessie!

And then everyone wanted a picture with her.

We got similar gift bags at our seats that we got in Opening.

It was nice to actually be able to take a seat and watch the show rather than having to leave like I did at Opening!

The show was amazing.

I sat next to a curling gold medalist.

I was transfixed by the technical aspect of the show and how they pulled it all off.

It was really fun.

Everyone was enjoying it.

At the end all of the athletes got to have a giant dance party on stage.

I’m so grateful that I got to be there.

Here is Kikkan with halfpipe gold medalist David Wise.

Here are, from left to right, mogul skier Jaelin Kauf, mogul skier Brad Wilson, Kikkan, snowboard slopestyle and big air rider Jessika Jenson and mogul skier Morgan Schild.

Sorry for the rushed post. I have to go catch a flight. Thank you again for all of your support!