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This Team USA Olympic snowboarder has a family history with the Games


This morning in Beijing, singer - skier Ryan Cochran-Siegle from Vermont won an Olympic silver medal in the super-G. He reached the podium 50 years after his mother, Barbara, won her gold medal skiing at the Winter Olympics in Japan. And it turns out Cochran-Siegel isn't the only athlete at these Games following in his mother's footsteps. NPR's Brian Mann reports.

BRIAN MANN, BYLINE: When Martha Hill Gaskill talks about her daughter Stacy's trip to Beijing to compete as a snowboard racer, she can barely contain herself.

MARTHA HILL GASKILL: Oh, it's awesome. It is so awesome. I have dreamed about this day since she was born (laughter).

MANN: Martha, who lost one of her legs to bone cancer, raced in the Paralympics in 1984 and 1988, winning a bronze medal. She also skied exhibition races in the Winter Olympics to help promote Paralympic sports. She says when Stacy was little, she heard her mom give talks about the Olympic experience.

GASKILL: I would go mostly in Colorado and speak at schools, and so I always brought my medal.

MANN: Stacy Gaskill was hooked. As soon as she was old enough, she began competing in a sport that didn't exist when her mom was racing - snowboard cross.


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: And it's on - big final for the women's event.

MANN: That's the sound from a championship race last year. In snowboard cross, racers skirmish their way down a winding course, bumping and clashing as they fly over jumps. It's physical and rough. Martha says, even as a little girl, it was clear Stacy was definitely made for this kind of thing.

GASKILL: She would get on a skateboard and look like she skateboarded her whole life. Because she's always been a daredevil and she's always been so athletic and so agile and so fast and fearless.

MANN: Now 21 years old, Stacy Gaskill finally qualified for the Olympic team. Speaking to reporters after arriving in Beijing, she gave a shoutout to Mom.


STACY GASKILL: I dreamt of the day that I would get that nomination for as long as I can remember. Like, my mom was an Olympian, so to be here, it's really hard to describe, but it's incredible.

MANN: Because of the pandemic and the Olympic quarantine rules, Gaskill's mom and other family can't be here. But she says after walking in the opening ceremony, she immediately phoned home.


GASKILL: It was so special to me to be able to call my mom afterwards.

MANN: She says one of the coolest things about this moment is living it virtually as much as she can with her mom.


GASKILL: And she was so excited and, like, was telling me about her opening ceremony when she walked, and, like, she wanted to hear about everything, and, like, getting to share that, like, really unique experience and feeling is amazing and something that me and my mom will cherish forever.

MANN: Stacy Gaskill will strap on her snowboard and race for the first time in the Olympics later tonight. Mom will be watching.

Brian Mann, NPR News, Beijing.


Brian Mann is NPR's first national addiction correspondent. He also covers breaking news in the U.S. and around the world.