Jessie Diggins: Hometown hero, gold medalist

Jessie Diggins gave her hometown a memorable wake up call on Wednesday, and her performance is already inspiring future generations of athletes.

LAKE ELMO, Minn. - It was approximately 4 a.m. in Minnesota when Jessie Diggins made a final pass to help her cross-country relay team win gold in South Korea. That didn't stop many people in Afton and Stillwater from tuning in online.

"We are screaming and jumping around and probably the neighbors are wondering what's going on?" said Kris Hansen, who was Diggins' cross country coach at Stillwater High School.

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Despite the time change, Hansen has been waking up early and staying up late throughout the Olympics to watch Diggins ski every race.

"We're tired but it's worth it," Hansen said with a laugh.

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Worth it, because she knows how hard Diggins has worked throughout her career and how many times she has come close to achieving her dream of winning a first-ever gold medal with the US Olympic cross country team.

As a current coach and mother of a high school skier, Hansen it's also been worth supporting an athlete who continues to inspire and uplift her old high school team.

Jessica Diggins of the United States reacts as she wins gold during the Cross Country Ladies' Team Sprint Free Final. (Credit: Lars Baron/Getty Images)

"Those girls are thrilled," Hansen said. "It is hard to overestimate what Jessie has meant to this team."

"Every year she comes and spends one or two workouts with us which we really appreciate," said Siri Bohacek, Hansen's daughter and current member of the Stillwater team. "I think that the teamwork principles that she's laid down for us are one of the reasons why Stillwater is so successful."

Despite competing in multiple Olympic events, Diggins also made sure to cheer on her former team as they won another state title last week.

On Wednesday she also replied to her former coach's photo of the celebration back home.

"She wrote back, 'Ah, thanks Kris! I love this photo! I have happy tears!'" Hansen said, reading from her phone.

Now that Diggins' tears are golden, she's not just inspiring the skiers.

"We had nordic skiing 101 in my Spanish class today," Bohacek said. "All the little boys even, if you ask them who is your favorite skier, they all go, 'Jessie Diggins'. They don't even know who the guys are. They just know Jessie Diggins."

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It's a name they'll be saying for years to come.

"If she wants to, she has two more Olympics left before she really gets to the age where skiers start retiring, so she's got a long road ahead of her," Hansen said.