Coach behind U.S. women’s cross-country ski team Olympic gold is Worthington native

  • Matt Whitcomb, a Worthington native, is the U.S. women’s cross-country skiing head coach. His team won a gold medal in the 2018 Winter Olympics on Wednesday. He is shown with his girlfriend, Steffie Bohler, who is on the German national team. SUBMITTED PHOTO

  • A family photo shows Matt Whitcomb as a child, who is the U.S. women’s cross-country skiing head coach. The team won a gold medal in the 2018 Winter Olympics, Wednesday. With him are his brother, Jacob, and sister, Catherine. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Matt Whitcomb, a Worthington native, who is the U.S. women’s cross-country skiing head coach. His team won a gold medal in the 2018 Winter Olympics on Wednesday. He is shown with his girlfriend, Steffie Bohler, who is on the German national team. —SUBMITTED PHOTO

  • Cath and David Whitcomb, who are the parents of Matt Whitcomb, the U.S. women’s cross-country skiing head coach, near their home in Worthington, Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018. His team won a gold medal in the 2018 Winter Olympics on Wednesday. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Cath and David Whitcomb, who are the parents of Matt Whitcomb, the U.S. women’s cross-country skiing head coach, near their home in Worthington, Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018. His team won a gold medal in the 2018 Winter Olympics on Wednesday. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Cath and David Whitcomb, who are the parents of Matt Whitcomb, the U.S. women’s cross-country skiing head coach, are shown near their home in Worthington, Saturday. The U.S. women’s team won a gold medal at the 2018 Winter Olympics on Wednesday. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

@mjtidwell781
Published: 2/24/2018 5:18:07 PM

WORTHINGTON — Two American women won a historic gold medal in women’s cross-country skiing at the Winter Olympics last week, under the leadership and coaching of one of western Massachusetts’ own.

Matt Whitcomb grew up in the town of Worthington skiing with his family, and he became the head coach of the U.S. women’s nordic ski team in 2012.

In this year’s Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, two of his team’s members, Jessica Diggins and Kikkan Randall, glided to the U.S. team’s first-ever women’s nordic gold medal in the women’s team sprint freestyle cross-country skiing final.

It’s the first cross-country medal by U.S. women and the first gold by men or women in nordic.

“It’s wonderful,” said Janice Potter who works at Corner’s Grocery in Worthington. “It’s a great thing for Worthington to help bring home that gold medal.”

Casey Pease, a Worthington resident who works at Liston’s Bar and Grill, said everyone in the community has been excited about Whitcomb and his team’s success.

“In a small town like this, the community really raises you,” he said. “So, there’s an extra sense of pride to see a Worthington native representing our country on the global stage.”

Pease said Whitcomb’s parents, Cath and David Whitcomb, came into Liston’s on Friday night to celebrate.

The Whitcombs said that as parents, they just couldn’t be prouder. From their son’s very first nordic race, David Whitcomb said, they were “instant soccer parents, except with nordic skiing.”

“We’re very proud and we attribute his success not to us specifically, just to the whole community that helped to raise him,” he said Saturday.

From family ski weekends at nearby Hickory Hill to the Bill Koch youth ski program, David Whitcomb said his son was always a tremendous leader. The Bill Koch program was a real beginning for his children, he said, giving them a strong work ethic that has pushed them to be successful throughout life.

The last medal of any kind won by an American cross-country ski team was Bill Koch’s silver in the 30 kilometers in 1976. Both Koch and Matt Whitcomb are now residents of Vermont.

David said his son’s leadership continued through high school at Wahconah Regional High School, where he was on the nordic ski team.

“People will say he was responsible for Wahconah’s only regional championship,” he said with a laugh.

Wayne Fisk, a resident of Worthington for over 25 years, said he’s known David Whitcomb for a long time in the small community of about 1,100 people.

“I’d always see David on skis going by here, so I think Matt comes by it naturally,” Fisk said. “I’d see his dad coming up the road in all kinds of weather.”

Matt Whitcomb was named International and Domestic Coach of the Year by the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association in 2017.

As a coach, David Whitcomb said his son is “world class” and there’s a quote he read once — attributed to his son — that really stuck out to him.

“Matt went in and talked with the team and said something like, ‘you don’t have to be good friends, but you have to be good teammates,’ and that’s what it’s all about,” the elder Whitcomb said.




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