Cross-country gold means a pink beard for one U.S. ski official

Kikkan Randall and Jessica Diggins are responsible for one of the most exciting and inspiring moments of Team USA’s Winter Games. On Wednesday, the two won the United States’ first-ever gold medal in cross country skiing, in the team sprint event. Randall skied the first leg, and then Diggins crossed the finish line first, beating Winter Games powerhouses Sweden and Norway.

Randall is responsible for something else incredible at these Winter Games. The, uh, new look of Tom Kelly, the Vice President of Communications at the US Ski & Snowboard Association.

Twelve years ago, U.S. Ski & Snowboard Association official Tom Kelly promised cross-country skier Kikkan Randall that he would dye his beard pink if she ever won an Olympic medal. (AP Photo)

Kelly dyed his beard pink, and it’s Randall’s doing. According to Fox News, Kelly promised Randall in 2006 that if she ever won a medal at the Olympics, he would dye his beard pink. 12 years later, he made good on that promise.

It’s fantastic that Kelly actually did what he promised he’d do, but it also shows just how long Randall and the US Ski & Snowboard Association had been waiting for this medal. Randall is 35 and this was her fifth and final Olympics. The U.S. had never won a gold medal in cross country before, and their only other medal in the discipline came from a bronze won by Bill Koch in the 1976 Olympics.

This win for Randall and Diggins could be just the beginning for U.S. cross country. A number of skiers have started to have success in international competition, and the gold medal could jumpstart even more progress. If more officials at the US Ski & Snowboard Association make hair dyeing promises to cross country skiers, it might not be long before we start to see more pink beards — and more medals, of course.

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