Most Olympians want to soak up every single moment of the games before they’re over, but Team USA biathlete Leif Nordgren is looking forward to going home for one very sweet reason — to meet his newborn daughter!
Nordgren is currently competing in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, his third Olympics after PyeongChang in 2018 and Sochi in 2014. On the other side of the world, his wife Caitlin Napoleoni, Vermont NBC-5 meteorologist, gave birth to their first child, Astrid Lynae, on Feb. 6. The excited dad watched the birth over FaceTime and can’t wait to meet his little one in person when he gets home, according to an interview in Today.
“I’m actually excited to get the Olympics over with and get home, more than anything, I think,” he said.
When the couple first discovered Napoleoni was pregnant, they did the math and discovered she would be due in February, according to the interview. At her first prenatal appointment, the doctor said she would be due during the Opening Ceremonies of the Winter Olympics, something Nordgren had been training for over the last 14 years.
In an Instagram post Jan. 28, showing Napoleoni wearing a Team USA sweater, she wrote about the bittersweet experience of being due during the Olympics. “Finding out Leif would most likely not be here for our baby’s arrival was absolutely sad, but finding out our due date was literally the day of opening ceremonies was a fun way to approach these two big moments in our lives despite his being away,” she said. “The reality that this part of the journey is almost over its getting more and more mind blowing with every hour, but Leif and I are ready for the little one’s arrival!!!!!!!!!”
According to the interview with Today, Nordgren is ready to compete. This will be his last Olympics, and he wants to do well while competing in the biathlon, which pairs cross-country skiing and rifle shooting over six events. His last definite race will be on Feb. 15, and the latest he will leave for home is Feb. 18.
“One of the nice things about biathlon is that so many different things can happen, both positive and negative, in so many different ways, that biathletes are very resilient and good at adapting to change,” he said in the interview. “I just make sure to be in the moment and stay focused on the task at hand.”
One of the things he’s looking forward to most about being a dad? Teaching Astrid how to ski when she’s older. “Skiing is a great family sport and a great way to get kids interested in the outdoors and winter,” he said.
Napoleoni added, “I love watching little skiers and snowboarders. I cannot believe little 2-year-olds can keep their balance so well. I see pictures and videos of our nieces and nephews, and some of them are better skiers than me! If Leif has anything to do with it, our kids will be those kids too.”
At the end of the day, the new parents hope their daughter learns about hard work. “To be at the Olympic level and go to the Olympics takes a lot of hard work,” Nordgren said. “I think that’s important — to know the value of hard work and to know that things don’t always turn out well. Sometimes, you’re disappointed, but it’s not the end of life, of course. There’s more to life, and you worked hard to get there and you can be proud of yourself for that.”
“A lot of people who participate in sports don’t get the glory and the fame, but they keep doing it because they are willing to make those sacrifices, and that’s just a huge part of everyday life, too,” added Napoleoni. “That attitude will help us when we are raising our children.”
It’ll definitely be a cool story to tell their daughter when she grows up!