February 26, 2010
On Thursday, U.S. Nordic combined skier Billy Demong won a gold medal. He decided to celebrate by giving his girlfriend a ring.
Hours after becoming the first American ever to win gold in a Nordic combined event at the Olympics, the 29-year-old from Saranac Lake, N.Y., proposed to his longtime girlfriend in front of teammates and coaches at the team headquarters near Vancouver. She said yes.
On Friday morning's edition of "The Today Show," Demong appeared with his new fiancee, Katie Koczynsk, and the couple shared the story of the proposal:
The ring Demong used to propose had belonged to his great-aunt and was eventually passed down to him. He had carried it around for two months, waiting for the right time to pop the question. After his men's Nordic combined team won silver on Wedneday, he decided that Thursday would be the day.
But first Demong had a race. As he held the lead in Thursday's Nordic combined, Demong said the thought of proposing as an Olympic champion crossed his mind. "A little part of me really wanted to win to make it better," he said. He did just that, becoming the first American ever to win gold in the event.
Yet when Thursday night rolled around, Demong still didn't know whether he was going to propose. Though he later said the ring had been "wearing a hole in his backpack all day," he still needed a boost. Demong got it at the team's headquarters when he received a thumbs-up from Johnny Spillane, his teammate and the silver medalist in Thursday's race.
Demong called Katie up to the stage, got down on one knee and asked her to marry him. She didn't hesitate in accepting. (Oh, and later he was informed that he had been voted the flag bearer for the United States at Sunday's Closing Ceremony.)
All in all, not a bad day for Billy Demong.
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