MN lawmakers laud state’s Olympic champs, plan celebration

Minnesota lawmakers are joining in the giddiness over some Olympic gold medals headed back to the state.

Several athletes with Minnesota ties scooped up medals in the just-closed Winter Games in South Korea,  including some who took home surprise gold.

Their area legislators are anxious to show their appreciation.

State Sen. David Tomassoni, a Chisholm Democrat, rose Monday to share a blow-by-blow account of the gold medalist curling team, led by John Shuster. “One for the ages,” the senator said.

Tomassoni was sure to point out that it’s comprised mostly of Minnesotans and that Shuster honed his skill at the Chisholm Curling Club “a half a block from my house” and that he’s the son of a former Tomassoni high school classmate.

“Hence, this gold medal is special,” Tomassoni told his colleagues. “So special in fact that I tried to send my first-ever tweet to wish the team good luck and I stayed up until 3:30 a.m. to send my second-ever tweet to congratulate them on winning the gold medal.”

He added, “I have no idea if they ever received these tweets and I’m sure no one confused my tweets with the other Mr. T.” (The mohawked actor-turned-motivational speaker became a vocal fan of the curling team during its championship march.)

Tomassoni is no slouch when it comes to sports; he played hockey in the 1984 Olympics for the Italian team.

The curling team, which is due to return to Duluth to a hero’s welcome, received a standing ovation from the Senate. And that could be just the start.

Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa, said he’s been urged by colleagues to assemble other Minnesota medalists for proper recognition. He said he’s been in contact with Gov. Mark Dayton about getting that on the schedule.

“Stay tuned,” Gazelka said.

It could get crowded.

Aside from the curlers, Minnesota athletes also took home medals in women’s hockey (eight with Minnesota ties were on the team that won gold), cross country skiing (Afton’s Jessie Diggins won gold) and downhill skiing (Burnsville native Lindsey Vonn won bronze).