COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) today announced its annual award recipients for Olympic and Paralympic athletes and teams of the year. Each of the 2010 honorees were part of Team USA’s historic performance at the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Vancouver and all are reigning Olympic or Paralympic champions. Alpine skier Lindsey Vonn (Vail, Colo.) has been named the USOC SportsWoman of the Year; figure skater Evan Lysacek (Naperville, Ill.) was selected SportsMan of the Year; the USA I four-man bobsled team was honored as Team of the Year; mono-skier Alana Nichols (Farmington, N.M.) was named Paralympic SportsWoman of the Year; sled hockey player Taylor Chace (Hampton Falls, N.H.) was named Paralympic SportsMan of the Year; and the 2010 U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey Team has been awarded the Paralympic Team of the Year honor.
“All of these athletes represent the best in Olympic and Paralympic sport for Team USA,” said USOC CEO Scott Blackmun. “Their excellence on the field of play is matched by their positive influence in their communities and across our country. Their personal achievements last year and throughout their careers are remarkable, and I am thankful that we have such outstanding ambassadors of excellence.”
Lindsey Vonn, 2010 SportsWoman of the Year
With another dominating year on the slopes, Vonn won her second consecutive SportsWoman of the Year award. 2010 included a pair of Olympic medals as she won gold in the downhill and bronze in the super G at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver. She became the first American woman to win an Olympic gold medal in the women’s downhill. Vonn also produced a record-breaking season with 11 World Cup wins en route to capturing four World Cup titles. She claimed her third consecutive World Cup overall title, third consecutive World Cup downhill title, second consecutive World Cup super G title and won the World Cup super combined title. Her performances earned also earned her ESPY awards for both “Best Female Athlete” and “Best Female U.S. Olympic Athlete.”
“The 2010 Olympic season was incredible, but what made it so special is that I was able to share it with so many American fans,” Vonn said. “It was amazing to see the support and excitement they showed for ski racing and that’s definitely carried into this winter. It means so much to the athletes to hear from them. Win or crash, they keep us excited to compete.”
Evan Lysacek, 2010 SportsMan of the Year
Lysaeck won gold at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games, becoming the first American men’s figure skating champion since Brian Boitano in 1988. He defeated reigning Olympic champion Evgeni Plushenko of Russia to end Russia’s dominance of the top of the podium. Lysacek also won silver at the 2010 AT&T U.S. Figure Skating Championships. He went on to compete in ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars,” finishing runner-up with partner Anna Trebunskaya, and he was nominated for an ESPY award in the category of “Best Male U.S. Olympic Athlete.” Active with several charitable causes, Lysacek becomes the second figure skater to win the SportsMan award, joining Scott Hamilton (1981).
“I was truly honored to represent the United States in the 2010 Olympic Winter Games,” Lysacek said. “Thank you to the USOC for all of their support throughout my career. I am extremely proud to receive this prestigious award and humbled to see my name next to the incredible list of past recipients.”
USA 1 Four-Man Bobsled Team, 2010 Team of the Year
2010 marked a second year of wins for the USA I four-man bobsled team and a second consecutive Team of the Year award. Nicknamed the “Night Train,” the team won gold at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver to break a 62-year medal drought. Pilot Steven Holcomb (Park City, Utah), along with Justin Olsen (San Antonio, Texas), Steve Mesler (Buffalo, N.Y.) and Curt Tomasevicz (Shelby, Neb.), notched the first Olympic bobsled win for a U.S. sled since 1948. The team also claimed the 2010 World Cup title after winning gold in Lake Placid, N.Y., gold in Cesana, Italy, silver in Altenberg, Germany, and silver in Koenigssee, Germany.
“It’s such an honor to win Team of the Year, especially this year, an Olympic year when all the teams are at their absolute best, I’m sure it wasn’t an easy choice,” Holcomb said. “Winning two years in a row is even more amazing. Not only did we have a great year from January to March, but changed the team and continued our winning.
“As U.S. Olympic athletes, we make sacrifices in so many aspects of our lives, and put everything we have into our sports hoping that in four years we might have a medal to show for it. So while winning an Olympic gold medal proves that we were the best, having the USOC recognize and acknowledge our hard work and accomplishments adds the final touch, the icing on the cake, to an incredible year.”
Alana Nichols, 2010 Paralympic SportsWoman of the Year
Nichols was the most decorated member of Team USA at the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games as she captured four medals in Vancouver in the alpine skiing sitting division. She took home two gold – downhill and giant slalom – silver in the super G and bronze on the super combined. She became the first U.S. female Paralympian to win gold medals at both the summer and winter Paralympic Games, having won gold with the U.S. Women’s Wheelchair Basketball Team at the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing. Nichols also dominated the 2010 World Cup schedule by winning both the downhill and super G titles.
“Receiving the 2010 Paralympic Sports Woman of the Year award is such an honor, and having been selected from a pool of the country’s most elite Paralympic athletes is just so humbling,” Nichols said. “I’m truly honored. This is the cherry on top of an absolutely unbelievable year for me.”
Taylor Chace, 2010 Paralympic SportsMan of the Year
As a member of the 2010 U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey Team, Chace helped the squad to the gold medal at the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games. He was part of a solid defense that did not allow a single goal in five games in Vancouver. He was named the top defenseman of the Games, and he tied for second among all defensemen with five points (3-2) and tied for first with a +8 rating in the five games. Chace was selected as captain of the 2010-11 U.S. National Sled Hockey Team.
“Receiving this award is a tremendous honor,” Chace said. “While winning the gold medal in Vancouver was the ultimate prize, this award is due in large part to my teammates, the sacrifices made by my family and my passion for hockey that keeps me going on the ice every day.”
2010 U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey Team, 2010 Paralympic Team of the Year
For the second consecutive year, the U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey Team has captured Paralympic Team of the Year honors. The 2010 U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey Team earns the award on the heels of winning the gold medal at the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games in March. Team USA dominated the competition by going undefeated and outscoring opponents 18-0 in five games, becoming the first country not to allow a goal at the Paralympic Winter Games. The U.S. also became the first country to claim a second sled hockey gold medal, also winning at the 2002 Paralympic Winter Games. In Vancouver, Team USA was the youngest team in the sled hockey tournament by nearly seven years with average age of 23.8 years (Canada’s average: 30.7 years). Steve Cash (Overland, Mo.) was named the top goaltender of the Games, and Chace was named the top defenseman.
Joining Cash and Chace on the team were Mike Blabac (Buffalo, N.Y.), Jimmy Connelly (Galloway, N.J.), Brad Emmerson (Amherst, N.Y.), Joe Howard (Kingston, Mass.), Tim Jones (Mt. Ephraim, N.J.), Nikko Landeros (Berthoud, Colo.), Taylor Lipsett (Mesquite, Texas), Adam Page (Lancaster, N.Y.), Josh Pauls (South Plainfield, N.J.), Alexi Salamone (Grand Island, N.Y.), Greg Shaw (Park City, Utah), Bubba Torres (Riverside, N.J.) and Andy Yohe (Bettendorf, Iowa).
“By shutting out all of our opponents en route to the gold, our team achieved a record in Vancouver that can never be broken,” said head coach Ray Maluta. “The guys’ ability to work together resulted in gold hanging around their necks, and I couldn’t be happier for this group.”
Photo courtesy of Leah Adams
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