Sun Valley native claims gold in Sochi


By Ngozi Ekeledo

Sun Valley, ID ( KMVT - TV / KTWT - TV ) Here's Katilyn Farrington's story—it goes like this.

From a small girl who grew up on a farm in Bellevue to an Olympic hopeful.

From the last member to qualify for the U.S Olympic squad to an Olympic gold medalist.

“I received a phone call, and it was an international number,” said Andy Gilbert, Farrington’s snowboarding coach in Sun Valley.

“So I picked up the phone, and it was all of the U.S. coaches and Kaitlyn's parents screaming on the other line."

The Sun Valley native wowed the world by winning gold in the women's Olympic snowboarding halfpipe final on Wednesday, beating out the last three defending Olympic champions.

Now her friends and family closer to home are reacting to her big moment.

"This has been a dream for our team and all the coaches who've had a part in this,” Gilbert said. “To have an athlete take it to this level—to be honest with you, it was just absolutely surreal."

Now the 24-year-old finds herself in great company. Like former Olympic gold medalist, Picabo Street, Farrington becomes just the second female from the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation to take home the top prize.

"It was a privilege really to watch and play a very small part in it, but we're all very happy for her," said Jody Zarkos, SVSEF's Communications director.

The Winter Games have provided an even bigger range of emotion for Idaho residents. Of the three United States gold medals won so far in Sochi, two of the recipients hail from right here in the Gem state.

"Having a region that's this strong and then being able to see a couple of your own doing something like this, it's huge motivation for these younger kids coming up," Gilbert said.

Farrington’s influence has already taken hold.

Zoe Bacca is a young snowboarder in Sun Valley and was impressed with her local favorite’s performance.

"I’ve riden with her two times,” the 10-year-old said. “To know a gold medalist? It's pretty cool."

"I think she instantly becomes a role model,” Zarkos said. “[She shows] hard work, perseverance, dedication and having fun."

What's next for Kaitlyn? Well, certainly a more hectic life off of the halfpipe.

"I really think she's going to become a media darling and just kind of sweep America,” Zarkos said. “Everyone else is going to fall in love with her because we are already in love with her. She's a great kid."

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