Celebrations throughout Vermont’s Champlain Valley followed a trip to the podium at the Winter Olympics Monday for freestyle skier Megan Nick.
"Another amazing Vermonter out there kicking butt in the Olympics," Timiny Bergstrom, Nick’s former gymnastics coach at the Green Mountain Training Center in Williston said of Nick.
Nick, a longtime gymnast, is now making headlines in another sport. The 25-year-old from Shelburne landed a bronze medal in aerials at the Winter Olympics Monday.
"We’re thrilled for Megan," the Olympian’s father, Jeff Nick, told NECN & NBC10 Boston just a few hours after his daughter’s bronze medal win. “For any athlete to get to this level, just to represent their country in the Olympics is such a thrill — both for my daughter, and for her parents, and all of her friends.”
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It was at Champlain Valley Union High School where Nick first started thinking of ways to combine her loves of flipping in the air and skiing — after teachers asked students, pretty open-endedly, to challenge themselves in a new way for a project.
Nick signed up for an aerial ski training camp in Lake Placid, New York and her Olympic journey took off from there. She discussed that with NECN & NBC10 Boston anchor Susan Tran in an interview conducted ahead of the Winter Olympics.
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"We really do try to encourage kids to learn through some kind of lifelong learning project or some way outside of the building to learn," noted Carly Rivard, a faculty member at the Olympian’s high school. "Thinking back to that time is cool — that was the start to all this!"
Hannah Kearney of Norwich, Vermont is a two-time Olympic medalist in moguls. She is working for NBCUniversal during these Games as an analyst, including for Megan Nick’s event.
"She was certainly an underdog," Kearney said of Nick.
Kearney noted Nick’s clean execution of more conservative maneuvers paid off, whereas her competitors struggled to land bigger but riskier tricks.
"She certainly had a shot, but she was not a favorite and I think it was a surprise to her as well as to everyone," Kearney said. "But it was well-earned, and a really well-executed trick in the medal round."
NECN & NBC10 Boston asked Kearney what was it like for her, a Vermonter, getting to call the action featuring another Vermonter.
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"Well it’s always fun to see Vermont on the screen on the graphic," Kearney answered. "I had good vibes about Megan‘s performance today because when I found out it was -11 degrees, I thought, ‘'Vermonter can handle that!' And not everyone can, because that’s a really cold temperature to be doing multiple back flips and trying to land!"
Back at the Green Mountain Training Center, friends and coaches said Megan Nick’s bronze is proof that hard work, passion, and creative thinking can really produce excellence.
"It’s unreal," former coach Timiny Bergstrom said, patting her chest. "So proud!"