American nordic skier Simi Hamilton is ringing in the new year by making history. On Tuesday, the 2010 Olympian became the first American male in decades to win a World Cup race—a 1.5-kilometer freestyle sprint, held in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, as part of the Tour de Ski stage race.
The last time a win like this happened was 30 years ago by American hero Bill Koch. In a sport historically dominated by europeans, the U.S. men's nordic program owns only one Olympic medal—Koch‘s silver in 1976.
Hamilton, 26, a Colorado native, has never finished better than seventh in a World Cup race, NBCsports reports. During Tuesday’s race, though, Hamilton came back from behind, taking the men’s final in 2:37.02, a mere 0.32 seconds ahead of Canadian Alex Harvey in second. The win is particularly exciting given that the Sochi Winter Games are just weeks away.
“I didn’t think I had it until I was, like, five feet across the line,” Hamilton said, according to Faster Skier. “I just focused on skiing through the finish and sticking to my guns.”