Jessie Diggins will be the flag bearer for the United States in the Closing Ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics. Diggins, a cross country skier, grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota. In PyeongChang, South Korea, Diggins won a gold medal in the cross-country team sprint.
When she isn’t spending five hours a day training and traveling all over the country, she’s hanging out with her boyfriend, Wade Poplawski.
Poplawski works as a financial analyst in Boston, Massachusetts. He is former hockey player who almost went pro. He graduated from Colgate University in 2011, earning a degree in economics.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. He Was in South Korea to Watch Diggins Compete in the Olympics
Poplawski met Diggins, 26, at the wedding of mutual friends, according to Twin Cities. The two have spent quite a bit of time talking to each other on Skype because of Diggins’ hectic schedule.
Although Diggins calls Minnesota home, she “is rarely in one place for more than three weeks,” according to Twin Cities. On her website, she writes that she is used to “living out of a suitcase” and does so for much of the year.
With Poplawski working a full-time job, the two don’t get to spend as much time together during those months as they would like, but they are able to make their relationship work.
Poplawski traveled to South Korea to watch his girlfriend compete in the Olympics. He shared a picture on their date at Olympic village on Valentine’s Day.
“Nice little Valentine’s Day date in Olympic Village. But proud to be in colours for this gal! Go Jessie,” he captioned the photo. After Diggins won a gold medal, he updated the post’s caption. “Update: you’re pretty good at skiing, dear,” he wrote, along with an emoji of a gold medal.
2. He Grew Up in Winnipeg & Attended Colgate University
Poplawski and his two brothers grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. His parents, Joe and Darlene Poplawski, still live in Canada.
After graduating from Silver Heights Collegiate in 2004, Poplawski enrolled at Colgate University in Hamilton, New York, where he majored in economics.
Poplawski spends a good deal of time with his brothers; the three are often seen together attending sporting events. He is also close with his parents, as evidenced by their family photos on Facebook.
3. He Works as a Financial Analyst at State Street Bank in Boston
Poplawski currently lives in Massachusetts, where he works as a financial analyst, specializing in asset-based securities. He has worked at State Street Bank in the city of Boston since 2016, according to his LinkedIn page.
“We’re responsible for more than 10 percent of the world’s assets. Large enough to serve more than 100 markets, we’re local enough to deliver on the ground. This means we’re closer to the world’s investments; closer to the communities where we operate; and closer to the clients we serve. Our clients face big challenges. Where to look next for growth. How to use the insights from their data. Which functions to outsource. It’s those challenges that inspire our solutions. Tapping into the power of our technology, people, insights and experience, we’re creating new ways to help you reach your goals. It’s what we call ‘asset intelligence.’ And it’s shaping our way ahead,” reads State Street’s website, in part.
Poplawski previously worked in product sales for Credit Suisse, a position he held from 2012 through 2016.
In 2012, he and his classmate, Michael O’Hara, co-wrote “The Feasibility of Potential NHL Markets under the New Collective Bargaining Agreement,” which was published in the Journal of Sports Economics.
4. He Was an NHL Prospect
Poplawski played hockey when he was younger and was a star defenseman in high school and in college. He played for Winnipeg South Blues of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League for three seasons before heading off to play for Colgate University.
Poplawski played in 41 games at Colgate his freshman year. According to the stats page on the school’s website, he “earned a spot on the ECAC Hockey All-Academic team” and “finished the season with 10 points on two goals and eight assists.” His second season with the team ended early, as he suffered an injury in the 12th game of his sophomore year.
He played collegiate hockey for two more seasons, his junior and senior years, before inking a deal with the Rapid City Rush, the East Coast Hockey League affiliate of the NHL’s Minnesota Wild, in 2011.
“I’ve heard that Rapid City is a great place to play and that the fans are incredible. I’m very happy about having an opportunity to play for the Rush and I hope to be an important member of the team this season. The camp in Springfield will be my first experience with pro hockey, so I’m looking forward to it. It should be a good test for me and I’m excited to see how I’ll compare to the other players,” he told ECAC Hockey at the time.
He was an NHL prospect, according to the Daily Skier, but decided not to pursue a professional career in the sport. While Poplawski no longer plays hockey, he does enjoy watching games — and he has made Diggins a fan.
“I don’t watch a lot of sports although my boyfriend used to be a hockey player so I love watching hockey games and cheering for the Minnesota Wild,” Diggins told NBC.
5. He Ran in the 2016 Boston Marathon
Poplawski is extremely athletic, and, aside from playing hockey, he is an avid runner. According to a post on Facebook, he ran in the 2016 Boston Marathon, finishing the race in just under four hours. Poplawski decided to raise money for Boston’s Children’s Hospital, which he donated after completing the race.
Poplawski seems to enjoy staying active, which is a good thing when it comes to dating Diggins. When she’s not skiing, she enjoys being adventurous.
“I like going camping with my family as often as I can. I dance (alone!) on my days off or at training camps to warm up for strength, I like to do yoga alone on a sunny deck in the summer, I like to play my guitar alone or with teammates while on the road, and I like to go swimming or cliff jumping with friends in the summer after workouts,” Diggins told NBC.