Team USA medalists Marino, Kauf exhibit joy beyond words

Posted at 10:42 AM, Feb 06, 2022

Team USA did not claim a medal on Day 1 for the second-straight Winter Olympics, a compelling reminder that nothing is given to even the biggest collectors of Olympic honors.

And so it should be no surprise that being the athlete(s) to put ones country on the medal count board at the 2022 Winter Olympics feels pretty darn good.

Key word: feels. There's no question it's empirically good.

In the coming days, there will be interviews with repeated if not practiced and crafted words regarding Saturday's accomplishments, but nothing like the unedited moments of wow.

Snowboarder Julia Marino and freestyle skier Jaelin Kauf delivered silver medals on Day 2. We can (and will) transcribe their quotes for you, but the perfect place to start might be to keep the volume down and just look at Marino's eyes when asked to describe how she's feeling.

That's the good stuff right there: Pure, unbridled joy.

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Beyond big facial expressions from athletes are usually big words, grateful for victory and their place in the world, but what Marino says in that video is just her face in the form of the English language.

"It's gonna sink in at some point but right now this is on a cloud, this is crazy: The craziest feeling I've ever felt."

Marino's medal was won in women's slopestyle in a bit of a surprise, while Kauf's silver came via women's freestyle skiing moguls, putting Team USA in a tie for the second-most medals won on Day 2 and just outside the top-10 for the tournament.

Even Kauf's multiplication of total words relative to Marino unveils something spiritual in the success that comes from the mechanics of the oft-repeated actions that supply the judges material to award greatness in performance.

"Oh my God, I'm just so happy right now. I honestly can't believe it," Kauf said. "I put it out there tonight and I'm so happy. I just tried to have so much fun and just keep my heart out at every run. I know that sounds so cheesy, but I wanted to leave it all out there and do everything that I could to make it on the podium tonight."

Again, this is the purity of the Olympics, a word sometimes reserved to describe fresh, fallen snow. In this instance, freshly-man-made snow. Maybe it's an even more fitting way to produce an appropriate description of the work and artistry it takes to claim your country's first medals at an Olympics.