SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 18: Bronze medalist Alex Deibold of the United States celebrates on the podium during the flower ceremony for the Men's Snowboard Cross Final on day eleven of the 2014 Winter Olympics at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park on February 18, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Olympic bronze medalist Alex Deibold is getting a New Haven-style celebration this morning. His family and friends gathered at the famous Pepe's Pizza for a Today Show appearance this morning.
The Branford native was a sensation on the slopes yesterday, four years after going to Vancouver, where his job was waxing other competitors' snowboards.
"It was a pretty incredible experience. I was vying for the Olympic team in 2010. My results didn't quite get me there," Deibold said on the Today Show this morning.
Instead, he went to Vancouver to help support his teammates and that experience motivated him to get to where he is today -- an Olympic medalist
"I was prepping their boards for training and race day and got a little view behind the Olympic curtain," Deibold said.
That glimpse was helpful this time around.
"In the last four years, I've used that as a motivating factor. Watching my teammates get to participate in something that was such an incredible experience that I wanted," he said.
To get to the finals, Deibold narrowly beat out his U.S. teammate Trevor Jacobs in the semifinals.
He was asked about that this morning, as well as the great celebration his teammates gave him.
"The race with Trevor was always tough. I hugged him afterwards. It's hard when you race against your own teammates. But, at the end, when all of my teammates ran out and jumped on me, I can't even explain," Deibold said. We're like brothers. ... When they lifted me up, it was an incredible experience."
Getting to the Olympic podium was no easy feat for Deibold. His family moved from Branford to Vermont after Alex's freshman year at Notre Dame in West Haven. He has worked several different jobs and pursued his dream without the backing of a major sponsor.
He said he's always believed in himself, but It took a lot to get there.
"I put in so much hard work and made so many sacrifices over the years that I knew I could do it," Deibold said.
Back home, his family supported him, and that includes at Pepe's Pizza. Alex is the nephew of Tony Rosselli, Frank Pepe’s oldest grandson.
This morning, they gathered, made a pizza with Olympic rings, cheered him on, chanting "Alex! Alex!" and "USA, USA!" and spoke with him on the Today Show this morning.
"We are so proud of you. From your 8-year-old flip off of the jump, scaring the daylights out of your mother, this is just an incredible, incredible experience," Alex's aunt said.
Deibold said support from his family means a lot to him and he appreciates the life lessons, including hard work, manners and appreciating what he has.