A pigtailed bumper. A kind volunteer. A champion of Olympism who fought lung cancer until the end. Those are just a few of the individuals and clubs recognized last month at the annual USSA Chairman’s Awards dinner. Here’s a closer look at the esteemed list for 2015.
USSA DIAMOND AWARD
Julius Blegen Award, presented for outstanding service to the sport
Allen Church, Albuquerque, N.M.
A USSA volunteer for 45 years, timing expert Allen Church has served from his home club in Taos, N.M., throughout the Rockies and around the world. He served as an alpine technical delegate from 1978 to 1995 and has worked at World Cup events, World Championships and as the chief of timing and scoring for the Salt Lake 2002 Games. Thelma Hoessler accepted the award on behalf of Church, a past recipient of the Westhaven Award and the Bud and Mary Little Award.
USSA GOLD AWARDS
Beck International Award, Presented to the top USSA athlete in international competition
Hannah Kearney (Norwich, Vt.)
In her final year as a World Cup athlete, Hannah Kearney won the last event of her career to tie fellow American Donna Weinbrecht for the most World Cup wins in moguls history: 46. She also won gold and silver medals at the World Championships to give her a new moguls record of eight. Kearney capped off her final season by winning both the overall and moguls World Cup titles, retiring as not only the greatest female American mogul skier, but also the most decorated skier ever in her sport. Additionally, Kearney was honored as the USSA Freestyle Athlete Of The Year for her success in the 2015 season and throughout her entire, record-breaking career.
USSA Club of the Year/Jumping/Nordic Combined Club of the Year
Park City Nordic Ski Club
As part of the Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation, the Park City Nordic Ski Club (PCNSC) is a resource for multi-sport entry programming. The club has a strong organizational base, an international venue, training and competitions, and programming that serves a wide range of athletes. The 2015 season culminated with the PCNSC women’s cross country team finishing second in the nation, while fellow PCNSC athletes earned three podium spots at the U16 and U18 Junior Nationals. This winter, PCNSC also earned a gold certification in USSA’s Club Development Program.
USSA International Coach of the Year/Freestyle International Coach of the Year
Matt Saunders (Park City, Utah)
A coach for the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team’s aerials squad, Matt Saunders has brought his experience as a former team member to a team on the rise. American aerials athletes brought home four major World Cup awards this season: Mac Bohonnon and Kiley McKinnon took home the aerials overall World Cup titles as well as World Championship silver medals; Alex Bowen was named Rookie of the Year; and the team finished first among all countries in the Nations Cup.
USSA Development Coach of the Year/ Alpine Domestic Coach of the Year
Steve Berlack (Franconia, N.H.)
Steve Berlack left his career 16 years ago to follow his passion for skiing and become a coach. During that time he has worked in various capacities at Burke Mountain Academy, coaching men and women, U16s and FIS-aged athletes as well as serving as Burke’s program director. For the past two seasons, Berlack has been an integral member of the FIS men’s coaching staff at Burke. This past season, USSA Eastern athletes won the Regions Cup at the U18 National Championship, in large part because of Berlack’s guidance. He continued coaching and remained focused on his athletes despite the loss of his son, Ronnie, in a tragic skiing accident in January while traveling as a member of the U.S. Ski Team in Austria. Berlack’s success with his group of athletes and his contributions to Burke also earned him the title of Alpine Domestic Coach of the Year.
USSA SILVER AWARDS
John J. Clair Jr. Award, presented in recognition of service to the U.S. Ski Team and U.S. Snowboarding.
Deedee Corradini (Salt Lake City, Utah)
Deedee Corradini was the first female mayor to accept the Olympic flag for a host city in 1998 when Salt Lake City was awarded the 2002 Games. A longtime champion of women’s ski jumping, she helped female athletes fly for the first time at the Olympic Winter Games. Corradini mentored girls and women, and worked closely with USSA and the FIS to expand elite female ski jumping worldwide. In the U.S., many jumping clubs have seen a doubling in female participation because of Corradini, who died on March 1 at age 70 after a battle with lung cancer.
Bud and Mary Little Award, presented in recognition of service to the International Ski Federation or U.S. Olympic Committee.
Ceil Folz (Vail, Colo.)
As the head of the Vail Valley Foundation, Ceil Folz brought the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships at Vail/Beaver Creek this past February, drawing record crowds of more than 200,000 and bringing the races to a record 800 million global viewers. Spectators filled the stands to capacity and climbed the hillsides to watch the U.S. athletes come away with five medals, including gold from Ted Ligety and Mikaela Shiffrin in the GS and slalom, respectively.
USSA INTERNATIONAL COACHES OF THE YEAR
Adaptive International Coach of the Year Award
Eileen Carey (Burlington, Vt.)
The 2014-15 season was Eileen Carey’s first year as head coach of the U.S. Paralympic Nordic Team. She helped athletes increase their medal count from four in Sochi to 28 the following season at World Championships. The team ended the season second in the World Cup standings, and had two World Cup overall globe winners.
Alpine International Coach of the Year Award
Forest Carey (Park City, Utah)
For the past two seasons, Forest Carey has been coaching Ted Ligety and Bode Miller, who have won two World Championship medals, one Olympic bronze medal and one Olympic gold medal. This year, Carey prepped Miller and Ligety for the World Ski Championships in Vail/ Beaver Creek, which resulted in a gold and bronze medal for Ligety and an unforgettable performance by Miller.
Cross Country International Coaches of the Year Award
Jason Cork (North Pole, AK) and Matt Whitcomb (Worthington, MA)
With Jason Cork and Matt Whitcomb at the helm, the U.S. Cross Country Ski Team brought home two World Championship medals and skied to two World Cup podiums this season. Additional strong results on the World Cup and at other major events included Liz Stephen finishing in a best-ever fifth-place at the Tour de Ski.
Freeskiing International Coach of the Year Award
Skogen Sprang (Park City, Utah)
Skoken Sprang’s leadership as a U.S. Freeskiing coach continues to help produce winning results. Slopestyle skiing athletes extended their domination this year, winning at least 50 percent of the podiums available at X Games, Dew Tour and Grand Prix events during the season. Athletes Joss Christensen, McRae Williams and Gus Kenworthy swept the Grand Prix podium in Park City in one of the best finals of the year.
Jumping/Nordic Combined International Coach of the Year Award
Dave Jarrett (Heber City, Utah)
Since stepping into the role of head coach in 2008, Dave Jarrett has played a key role in deepening and strengthening the U.S. Nordic Combined Ski Team. This season, Bryan Fletcher and Taylor Fletcher posted personal-best finishes, with Bryan landing in fifth at the 2015 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships and Taylor securing a third-place podium during the World Cup season.
Snowboarding International Coach of the Year Award
Rick Bower (Park City, Utah)
Long-time U.S. Snowboarding halfpipe coach Rick Bower led the women’s halfpipe snowboarding team to a historic season, winning 83 percent of the podiums available at the major events. Bower is one of the most respected coaches in the sport for his leadership and technical knowledge.
USSA CLUBS OF THE YEAR
Adaptive Club of the Year
Adaptive Action Sports
Formed in 2005 by Paralympic snowboarding medalist Amy Purdy and former ESPN and X Games organizer Daniel Gale, Adaptive Action Sports primarily focuses on snowboarding and provides pipeline programs for adaptive athletes including Marine Dustin Fleming, who lost a leg while on a mission to help children in Iraq. Fleming accepted the award on behalf of Adaptive Action Sports.
Alpine Club of the Year
Ski & Snowboard Club Vail
Ski & Snowboard Club Vail (SSCV) completed the gold certification as part of the USSA’s Club Development Program in the first season it was offered. Of the 36 Rocky/Central Division athletes to qualify to U16 National Championships this winter, 24 were from SSCV. Five of the 24 U16 athletes who qualified to the National Training Group (NTG) in 2014 were from SSCV, more than any other program in the country. This is the second consecutive Alpine Club of the Year award for SSCV.
Cross Country Club of the Year
In each of the last three years, Craftsbury Nordic has stepped up to host national-level events, including U.S. Masters National Championships and two Super Tours (with nearly 800 starts in one weekend). In addition to homologated racecourses with snowmaking, Craftsbury has now built a “green” lodge with training facilities, locker rooms and wax rooms. The Craftsbury Green Racing Project is dominating elite racing in New England, and the youth program swept the NENSA Gallagher Cup as the men’s and women’s Eastern Cup overall champions.
Freeskiing Club of the Year/Snowboarding Club of the Year
Team Park City United
This past season, Park City Ski and Snowboard Clubs came together to form Team Park City United, which hosted the Freeskiing Junior Nationals. Team Park City United athletes also had multiple podiums at Junior Worlds, Junior Nationals and USASA Nationals in skiing and snowboarding, including Clara Jenner’s halfpipe bronze medal.
Freestyle Club of the Year
Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club
Three athletes from Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club were in the top 10 on this year’s NorAm tour, including NorAm Grand Prix Champion Ryan Dyer. Two athletes, Avital Shimko and Jaelin Kauf, received medals at the 2015 FIS Junior World Championships. Steamboat also hosted the 2015 U.S. Freestyle National Championships.
USSA ATHLETES OF THE YEAR
Adaptive Athlete of the Year
Andy Soule (San Antonio, Tex.)
Andy Soule earned 10 World Cup and World Championship podiums this season, eight in cross country events. He medaled in five of the six World Championship individual races, both biathlon and cross country. Soule also won outright four cross country World Cup races on his way to winning the overall IPC Cross Country World Cup title.
Alpine Athlete of the Year
Lindsey Vonn (Vail, CO)
After missing the better part of the past two years because of injury, Lindsey Vonn won eight World Cups (a tie with Marcel Hirscher for the most on tour), earned a bronze medal at the 2015 FIS Alpine Ski World Championships, and won a record 19th World Cup overall globe with the super G and downhill titles. Vonn also won her 67th World Cup race, increasing her record as the winningest women’s World Cup racer in history.
Cross Country Athlete of the Year
Liz Stephen (East Montpelier, Vt.)
This season, Liz Stephen made history with a fifth-place finish at the Tour de Ski, the best result ever by an American in the multi-stage event, and earned her first-ever World Cup podium. She was also part of the relay team that placed fourth at the 2015 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships.
Freeskiing Athlete of the Year
David Wise (Reno, Nev.)
David Wise has been on the top of the halfpipe skiing podium since early 2001, including becoming the first-ever Olympic gold medalist in the sport. In 2014-2015,he had four major event podiums and took home the overall FIS World Cup title.
Nordic Combined Athlete of the Year
Bryan Fletcher (Steamboat Springs, Colo.)
During the 2014-15 season, Byran Fletcher notched a fifth-place finish at the 2015 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships. It was a career-best finish for the Steamboat Springs native. Fletcher also finished the season with eight top-10 results on the World Cup circuit.
Ski Jumping Athlete of the Year
Sarah Hendrickson (Park City, Utah)
After a tough start to the season, Sarah Hendrickson made a dramatic comeback, finishing in the top 10 at the 2015 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships and earning three World Cup podiums in the final events of the winter. She was also one of the top performers in the mixed-gender team event, soaring to the longest ride of the day at World Championships.
Snowboarding Athlete of the Year
Kelly Clark (West Dover, Vt.)
This season, Kelly Clark was consistently on the top of the podium, winning two Sprint U.S. Grand Prix events and the overall Grand Prix Title. She also took her eighth Burton U.S. Open victory and the TTR halfpipe overall title. Clark spent the year growing the Kelly Clark Foundation, giving opportunity to youth and creating more access to the sport.
— With reports from USSA
USSA Diamond Award
Julius Blegen Award (Highest honor for service to sport) – Allen Church (Albuquerque, N.M.)
USSA Gold Awards
Beck International Award (top USSA athlete) – Hannah Kearney (Norwich, Vt)
USSA Coach of the Year Award – Matt Saunders (Park City, Utah)
USSA Development Coach of the Year Award – Steve Berlack (Franconia, N.H./Burke Mountain Academy)
USSA Club of the Year Award – Park City Nordic Ski Club
Westhaven Award (top USSA technical delegate) – Ritchie Date (Park City, Utah)
USSA Silver Awards
Paul Bacon Award (event organization) – Beat Hupfer/Mammoth Mountain Race Department
John J. Clair Jr. Award (service to the U.S. Ski Team) – Deedee Corradini (Salt Lake City, Utah)
Bud and Mary Little Award (service to FIS/USOC) – Ceil Folz (Vail, Colo.)
Buddy Werner Award (athlete sportsmanship, leadership) – Faye Gulini (Salt Lake City, Utah)
Russell Wilder Award (service to youth) – Kikkan Randall/Fast and Female (Anchorage, Alaska)
USSA J. Leland Sosman Award (service as team physician) – Dr. Andrew Cooper (Salt Lake City, Utah)
West Family Award (USSA official) – Chuck Hughes (Killington, Vt.)
USSA Athlete of the Year Awards
Adaptive Athlete of the Year Award – Andy Soule (San Antonio, Tex.)
Alpine Athlete of the Year Award – Lindsey Vonn (Vail, Colo.)
Cross Country Athlete of the Year Award – Liz Stephen (East Montpelier, Vt.)
Freestyle Athlete of the Year Award – Hannah Kearney (Norwich, Vt.)
Freeskiing Athlete of the Year Award – David Wise (Reno, Nev.)
Nordic Combined Athlete of the Year Award – Bryan Fletcher (Steamboat Springs, Colo.)
Ski Jumping Athlete of the Year Award – Sarah Hendrickson (Park City, Utah)
Snowboarding Athlete of the Year Award – Kelly Clark (West Dover, Vt.)
USSA Coach of the Year Awards
Adaptive International Coach of the Year Award – Eileen Carey (Burlington, Vt./U.S. Paralympic Team)
Adaptive Domestic Coach of the Year Award – Scott Olson (Winter Park, Colo./Disabled Sports USA)
Alpine International Coach of the Year Award – Forest Carey (Park City, Utah/U.S. Ski Team)
Alpine Domestic Coach of the Year Award – Steve Berlack (Franconia, N.H./Burke Mountain Academy)
Cross Country International Coach of the Year Award – Jason Cork (North Pole, Alaska) and Matt Whitcomb (Worthington, Mass.)
Cross Country Domestic Coach of the Year Award – Sverre Caldwell (Stratton Mountain, Vt.)
Freestyle International Coach of the Year Award – Matt Saunders (Park City, Utah/U.S. Freestyle Ski Team)
Freestyle Domestic Coach of the Year Award – Johnny Kroetz (Rochester, N.Y./Bristol Mountain)
U.S. Freeskiing International Coach of the Year Award – Skogen Sprang (Park City, Utah/U.S. Freeskiing)
U.S. Freeskiing Domestic Coach of the Year Award – Chris “Hatch” Haslock (Park City, Utah/Team Park City United)
Ski Jumping/Nordic Combined International Coach of the Year Award – Dave Jarrett (Heber City, Utah/U.S. Ski Team)
Ski Jumping/Nordic Combined Domestic Coach of the Year Award – Scott Smith (Cary, Ill./Norge Ski Club)
Snowboarding International Coach of the Year Award – Rick Bower (Park City, Utah/U.S. Snowboarding)
Snowboarding Domestic Coach of the Year Award – Ross Powers (Stratton Mountain, Vt./Stratton Mountain School)
USSA Club of the Year Awards
Adaptive Club of the Year Award – Adaptive Action Sports
Alpine Club of the Year Award – Ski & Snowboard Club Vail
Cross Country Club of the Year Award – Craftsbury Nordic Ski Club
Freestyle Club of the Year Award – Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club
Freeskiing Club of the Year Award – Team Park City United
Jumping/Nordic Combined Club of the Year Award – Park City Nordic Ski Club
Snowboarding Club of the Year Award – Team Park City United