GOLD

Olympic Champions!

How can I not put up a post tonight? It’s not like I’m going to be able to sleep anyways.

In case you missed it, and I sure hope you didn’t, Kikkan Randall and Jessie Diggins won the Olympic Team Sprint tonight. Won. They WON!

The US had NEVER won a medal, of any color, in women’s Olympic cross-country skiing.

The only previous Olympic cross-country medal of any color for either gender was Bill Koch’s silver in 1976.

In case you need help with the math, that was 42 years ago.

Our entire team was out to see it. (This picture is of just a small part of the American contingent that was out to support Kikkan and Jessie. Tom Kelly, the Vice President of Communications at US Ski and Snowboard, is pictured center. From left to right in the back: ski jumper Sarah Hendrickson, Paddy Caldwell, Ida Sargent, the Cross-Country Press Officer Reese Brown, Sadie Bjornsen, Liz Stephen, the Content Manager at US Ski and Snowboard Courtney Harkins, Rosie Brennan, Dr. Larry Gaul and sports psychologist Pam Lemons.)

There were tears all around, including from Luke Bodensteiner, the Vice President of Athletics at US Ski and Snowboard (pictured here with Courtney).

Pam and Liz made me want to cry as well.

Cross-country Head Coach Chris Grover and Tiger Shaw, the President and CEO of US Ski and Snowboard, were speechless.

Even though this is Jessie and Kikkan’s moment, it feels like it’s for all of us. It’s for our whole team, but more importantly it’s for the entire US Cross-Country Ski Community.

We would not be here without so much support from home.

Alan Ashley, the Chief of Sport Performance for the US Olympic Committee, pictured here with Luke, was at the venue to see it.

A huge contingent of the US Olympic Moguls Team came as well. (Pictured below from left to right: Emerson Smith, Tess Johnson, Jaelin Kauf, Morgan Schild, Liz, Brad Wilson and Canadian moguls skier Audrey Robichaud.)

The Swedish Team of Charlotte Kalla and Stina Nilsson took silver and the Norwegian Team of Marit Bjørgen and Maiken Caspersen Falla took third.

Our whole American contingent swarmed the photo area for the venue prize giving ceremony. I think we made the officials a little nervous.

The medals will be awarded in town tomorrow night.

Coincidentally, Dexter Paine, the Chairman of the Board of US Ski and Snowboard and the US representative on the International Ski Federation Council was awarding prizes for the venue ceremony.

As proud as I am of Jessie and Kikkan tonight, I am equally proud of my teammates who did an amazing job of supporting the them.

It was an emotional evening.

My apologies if I accidently duplicate a photo here. Clearly I’m not going in order.

In particular, I am extremely impressed with the way Sadie Bjornsen handled herself this evening. Sadie wanted to be on tonight’s team, and it was an extremely difficult decision for the coaching staff to leave her off. She was a class act in the way she handled the disappointment of not being on the team and in the way she dealt with mixed emotions this evening. I have so much love and respect for her.

Also, our men’s team of Erik Bjornsen and Simi Hamilton were overshadowed tonight.

They were amazing in the semifinal.

And they were on track for a great result in the final before Erik had an unfortunate crash.

I am very impressed by their skiing and proud to be their teammate.

I know that they are disappointed with today’s result.

I also know that it’s hard for them to balance their disappointment with the joyous and celebratory atmosphere of the team.

I believe they are two of the best skiers in the world, and I hope they get the opportunity to prove it to themselves in the remaining races this season.

Most of all I hope they keep their heads up and believe in themselves the same way our teammates and I believe in them.

One person who was conspicuously missing from much of the post-race celebration was the Women’s Coach Matt Whitcomb. I like to believe that he was crying tears of joy in a corner by himself because that image makes me happy. He deserves so much of the credit for this team’s success.

Also not in any of the pictures are Jessie’s coach and US Ski Team coach Jason Cork and Kikkan’s coach Erik Flora. Both of those men deserve a huge amount of credit for this gold medal.

It was a perfect evening for a ski race.

I love that so many athletes from other sports came to watch, including Sarah Hendrickson (pictured), the Moguls Team and the Alpine Speed Women, whom I unfortunately never got to see.

It was cool to see Bjørgen, the most decorated female Winter Olympian of all time, congratulate Kikkan and Jessie.

I am sure that tonight will be one of the highlights of my entire ski career. I doubt I will ever forget it. I will never win an Olympic medal. I used to dream of such a moment for myself, but my goals are different now. However, I am feeling a personal sense of success tonight for the small role I played, as a teammate and friend, in this amazing accomplishment.

I am so happy to have my Olympic moment be a small part of a team’s moment that is much bigger than any one individual.

You could not have written this script better if you tried: 35 year old Kikkan Randall skiing in her 5th Olympic Winter Games teams up with 26 year old prodigy Jessie Diggins to win the country’s first Olympic medal in 42 years. Oh yeah, and it’s GOLD.