Winter Olympics Journal

February 26, 2010 2:27 AM

Good day for skier: Olympic gold, proposal, U.S. flag-bearer


When you win an Olympic medal in skiing, the U.S. Ski Team usually throws you a party.

At Whistler, the parties have been frequent at Spyder House, the ski apparel company that has taken over a local store in Whistler Village.

But none have been anything like Thursday night's.

First, a crowd of a couple hundred people toasted that day's new medalists, nordic combined gold and silver medalists Billy Demong and Johnny Spillane.

Not only was it the first nordic combined gold medal for the U.S., it was America's first Olympic nordic gold of any kind -- cross-country, ski jumping, nordic combined or biathlon.

Little did anyone know, but Demong, 29, had something else on his mind, and in his backpack.

When the party was in full swing, Demong took the microphone and said he "had a little question to ask." He dropped to one knee and proposed to his girlfriend of two years, Katie Koczynski, a former skeleton slider he met at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, N.Y. (She said yes.)

Demong said he had been carrying the ring around in his backpack for a while, waiting for something good to happen. On Thursday, it did.

But the remarkable news didn't end there. Not long after, the four-time Olympian Demong, from Vermontville, N.Y., told us he had been picked to carry the flag for the U.S. team in Sunday's closing ceremony. Each sport nominates an athlete, and the entire athlete delegation then votes on one person.

Historic gold, proposal, U.S. flag-bearer. Now that's a good day.

(Nordic combined Olympic medalists Brett Camerota, Billy Demong, Todd Lodwick, Johnny Spillane. Photo/Ron Judd)

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