Anchorage’s cross-country skiing community celebrated its Olympians Friday with a fitting event: laps around Kincaid Park.

A few hundred people showed up to welcome home gold medalist Kikkan Randall, siblings Eric and Sadie Bjornsen, and Jessica Yeaton at an event hosted by the Nordic Skiing Association of Anchorage

The Olympians said they appreciated the more intimate event, and its opportunity to share their love of the sport alongside the people who have supported them for years.

“Alaska is really unique because everybody knows what cross-country skiing is here, and I can’t say the same about every other state in the U.S.," said Sadie Bjornsen. "To see everyone with cross-country skis on and ripping around and having fun with a smile on their face, we are excited right now about a gold medal -- but I think it’s just the start of the next generation, and I love to see so much excitement. I can’t wait to see what happens.”

Everyone at the event was able to meet Randall and hold her gold medal, which she kept in her jacket pocket for all to see.

The first American woman to win a cross-country Olympic medal was more than happy to take selfies and share her victory.

“You know, the best part of winning a medal is sharing it with everyone who helped you get there and inspiring the next generation to win their own medals someday," said Randall. "This thing isn’t gonna stop traveling anytime soon.”

By now, Randall believes thousands of people have touched her medal. 

"It just reminds me of why I do the sport in the first place," Randall said. "Because it really is about the fun and doing it together, and these guys are pretty talented so I think we have a lot to look forward to."

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