A lot has happened in the 15 years that have zipped by since Tristan Gale Geisler won skeleton gold at the Salt Lake Olympics. Married. Check. College degree. Check. Children. Check. Rinsed the red, white and blue out of her hair. Check.
But remembering it never gets old.
“When you see your flag and your anthem played, in your hometown, it’s an indescribable moment,” Tristan says. “It’s something I couldn’t plan for or even have expectations for because it was beyond anything I could have imagined. I don’t think that ever diminishes with time.”
When she watches her gold-clinching run on YouTube, “I still get just as emotional, even though it makes me feel so old.”
The 36-year-old mother of two lives in Oceanside, California, these days, next door to Camp Pendleton, where her husband, Jon Geisler, flies helicopters for the Marine Corps. They were married — on skis — in 2008. They have a son named Grey, who will be 3 in March, and a 7-month-old daughter named Brynn, plus two dogs.
At 21, Tristan was a first-time Olympian in a first-time event when the 2002 Games rolled around. She’d moved to Utah from New Mexico when she was 9 and discovered skeleton racing as a teenager. In a snowstorm on Feb. 20, 2002, she made history when she became the first Olympic women’s skeleton winner ever. As she celebrated at the finish line, she took off her helmet and showed the world her hair streaked a patriotic red, white and blue.
“The Marine Corps has toned down my hair color a bit over the years,” she said. “But probably not my personality.”
After winning bronze at the world championships in 2003, Tristan retired prior to the 2006 Olympics in Torino. She returned to the Olympics as coach of the French skeleton team at the Vancouver Games in 2010.
Many members of her family remain in Salt Lake. She will reunite with them this week when she returns to the scene of her great triumph for 15-year anniversary festivities at Utah Olympic Park.
“It’s so strange living in a place without winter,” she said. “I have to come back at least once a winter to get my snow fix in.”