IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

See the emotional surprise reunion between Olympian Jaelin Kauf and her mom

The silver medalist cried tears of joy and shared a long hug with her mother after Patti Kauf traveled from Wyoming to surprise her daughter on TODAY.

The surprise that Olympic moguls skier Jaelin Kauf received on TODAY Thursday felt just as sweet as her silver medal win.

Kauf, 25, was shocked when her mother, Patti, appeared on Rockefeller Plaza to surprise her in person on Kauf's first day back from China. The mother and daughter shared a minute-long hug filled with tears of joy as they celebrated together for the first time since Kauf brought home her medal in Beijing on Sunday.

"It’s so special," Kauf said. "I’ve been looking forward to this moment the whole Olympics."

Kauf is the first U.S. medalist to return home from Beijing, so she was anticipating an emotional reunion with her family in Wyoming by the end of the week.

Suffice it to say Jaelin Kauf did not see this one coming.
Suffice it to say Jaelin Kauf did not see this one coming.Nathan Congleton / TODAY

Patti initially appeared in a video message to Jaelin, fooling her into thinking she was back home and not right around the corner from where Kauf was sitting on the TODAY set.

Kauf had last seen her family for a brief period at a World Cup event last month.

"You definitely pulled off the surprise!" she said as she held her mother's hand.

Her family couldn't be in Beijing due to COVID-19 restrictions when Kauf took second in the freestyle skiing women’s moguls competition on Sunday.

Her boyfriend, fellow Olympic freestyle skier Brad Wilson, was able to cheer her on in person. His jumping, shouting and clapping for Kauf almost made it seem like she had a whole group of people hyping her up.

"It was definitely pretty weird not having them over there," Kauf said about her family. "As we all saw, I did have my boyfriend over there."

Wilson and Kauf's family also delivered a special video message from Wyoming on TODAY Thursday.

"So stoked, ready for you to come home and celebrate," Wilson said. "Can’t wait for you to get home. Love you."

The family watched Kauf compete while at a party at the Tetonia Club in Alta, Wyoming. Patti is an accomplished moguls skier herself, having won a pair of titles on the World Pro Moguls Tour, and Kauf's father, Scott, won five championships on the same tour.

"Being an athlete on that level is so hard on the world stage at the Olympics," Patti said. "She's got 26 ½ seconds to do that (run). In mogul skiing you only have one event, one competition, so it’s not like not like, 'Rough day, I’ll get back up.'"

Kauf was considered a medal favorite going into the 2018 Olympics but ended up finishing seventh. This time, her demeanor before the competition reassured her family that something special was about to happen.

"I have never spoken to her when she’s so calm," Patti said. "Just talking to her, she was just in her place. And then when she smiled at the top of the course. No one smiles at the top of the course!

"We were all in the Tetonia Club, her dad and her brother and all of us there," Patti continued. "When she smiled, we were like, 'Oh my God, she’s got this!'"