When Jessie Diggins crossed the finish line first during the 2018 Winter Olympics' freestyle team sprint on Feb. 21, she and teammate Kikkan Randall became the first American women to medal in a cross-country skiing event — let alone win the gold! And now, Jessie's getting another honor: Team USA decided in a vote that she will be the United States' flag bearer at the Closing Ceremony in Pyeongchang, South Korea, on Feb. 25.
"This is such an incredible honor for me," the 26-year-old said in a Team USA press release. "I'm really humbled and moved that the athletes voted for me. It's so inspiring to feel the support and cheering from everyone. The coolest thing for me about the Games has been getting to meet other athletes on Team USA and getting to cheer them on at their events and learn about what they do. I have so much respect and admiration for everybody here and am beyond honored to be able to lead us out of these Games."
The Minnesota native also competed in the 2014 Winter Olympics, but she really hit her stride during these games. In that groundbreaking team sprint, she beat the Swedish team by just a fifth of a second. Plus, she finished in the top six during four other races, as Team USA boasts.
"Jessie's breakthrough performances here in PyeongChang have been inspirational and historic, and her success is representative of years of teamwork and determination from all our athletes," United States Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun raved. "I am proud that she has been recognized with the distinction of being our flag bearer for the Closing Ceremony. Her spirit and dedication to her sport and team members [are] contagious, and her influence on cross-country skiing and Team USA are remarkable."
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The last 24 hours have been unbelievable! No, seriously. I still don’t believe it happened. There are so many people who are a part of this first ever gold medal for our team and I can’t thank them all the way I’d like to…but you know who you are. Those of you who put your lives on hold to coach us, wax for us, train grueling sessions alongside of us and push us through the tough times as well as celebrate the good times. To the ones up cheering at 3am in your pajamas to the ones cheering on the side of the race course. To all of you who believed in us from the start and cheered us through every small victory and picked us up from every fall. Thank you, this medal belongs to you as much as it does to me. ❤️
This flag bearer decision seems a lot less contentious than the Opening Ceremony pick. In that vote, luger Erin Hamlin and speed skater Shani Davis tied, so the honor was decided by a coin flip. And that didn't sit well with Shani. "@TeamUSA dishonorably tossed a coin to decide its 2018 flag bearer," he later tweeted. "No problem. I can wait until 2022."
Hopefully, we'll see Shani, 35, during those games in Beijing four years from now. But it seems like a sure bet we'll see Jessie. And in the meantime, we'll watch her carry the Stars and Stripes at the Closing Ceremony, capping off an unforgettable two weeks in Pyeongchang.