Despite a season filled with tragedy and turmoil, 11-time World Cup titlist Mikaela Shiffrin (Edwards, Colo./Ski & Snowboard Club Vail) was named winner of U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s Beck International Trophy for the fourth time. Shiffrin will share the honor with junior cross country ski racer Gus Schumacher (Anchorage/Alaska Winter Stars), in a rare tie for the top award.
The Beck International Trophy is the highest honor from U.S. Ski & Snowboard, recognizing the top athletes in international competition for the year. It’s also the organization’s oldest, dating back to 1931. The 68 recipients over nearly a century represent a remarkable cross section of the greatest U.S. Olympic ski and snowboard champions of all time. It was only the second time in history two athletes tied for the penultimate honor.
The young Schumacher got together on a call recently with Shiffrin to share stories of the season.
Shiffrin’s 2019-20 story was told less in her six World Cup wins and 13 podiums, and more in how she fought through professional and personal challenges that tested her at every turn. It was a season of highs, including a late January weekend in Bansko, Bulgaria where she won two speed events and amassed 250 World Cup points in front of her parents, to the deepest of lows with the death of her father a week later. While the entire World Cup family grieved with her, she fought back courageously to return to the tour a month later, only to have the season end prematurely a day before her return.
It is the fourth time Shiffrin has won the Beck International Trophy, and the fifth time she has won Alpine Athlete of the Year.
“Wow. I am SO humbled,” said Shiffrin. “It’s an incredible honor to share the award with three-time World Junior Champion cross country skier Gus Schumacher. It’s super impressive to see a junior athlete receive this prestigious award, and I’m looking forward to following Gus’ success throughout his career with the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Team. I’d also want to thank my team and teammates, U.S. Ski & Snowboard, and the ski community as a whole for your outpouring of love and support through what has been an unimaginable time in my life. Your words and thoughts lifted me up when I needed it most.”
At just 19, Alaskan Gus Schumacher (Anchorage/Alaska Winter Stars) is rewriting the cross country skiing history book in America. He became the first junior skier to win the Beck International Trophy since cross country skier Bill Koch won in 1975. At the Junior World Championships, Schumacher took the first individual gold by an American junior in the 10k classic. To top it off, he anchored the USA men to their second straight relay gold and third straight medal performance in the team event. A product of the Alaska Winter Stars program, Schumacher has been a catalyst on a junior team that has been winning Junior Worlds medals over a three year span.
“Wow, I didn’t know how big it was until I realized Mikaela was the other recipient. After that call, I realized it was a super big deal. It was cool because she’s just a regular person – she was so nice and seemed genuinely interested in my skiing. I’m honored to be sharing the Beck Award with her.”
Freeski Athlete of the Year
Strength and determination overcame uncertainty for two-time Olympian Maggie Voisin (Whitefish, Mont./U.S. Slopestyle Pro Team) , who came back from knee surgery to score five consecutive podiums. She was recognized with the Freeskiing Athlete of the Year Award. Her hard work led to exponential progression through the X Games tour, winning slopestyle bronze in Aspen, then hitting big air silver and slopestyle gold in Norway. Her X Games medals came on the wings of landing a perfect double cork 1260 safety to close out a season that also saw her on the Land Rover U.S. Grand Prix and Dew Tour podiums. Voisin’s positivity and encouragement has positioned her as a team leader.
Freestyle Athlete of the Year
Veteran moguls skier Jaelin Kauf (Alta, Wyo./U.S. Freestyle Moguls Team) scored four World Cup podiums including a win to close out the season ranked third in the world. She was honored with the Freestyle Athlete of the Year Award. Kauf is consistently one of the fastest women on the moguls World Cup circuit and this season brought two new tricks to competition – a cork 7 and a back mute. Her athletic progression is a tribute to her strong work ethic and her desire to be the best at what she does – all contributing to her confidence on the course. Known as a team leader, she attributes much of her success to the strength of her teammates in always pushing each other. Kauf also won the award in 2018.
Nordic Combined Athlete of the Year
A second straight season title came to Tara Geraghty-Moats (West Fairlee, Vt./New York Ski Education Foundation) this season, on the wings of five Continental Cup wins and two podiums. She was recognized as U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s Nordic Combined Athlete of the Year. Along the way she impacted the youth of the world, serving as a sport ambassador for the International Olympic Committee at the Youth Olympic Games and was named Nordic Combined Athlete of the Year by the International Ski Federation. Women make their FIS World Cup debut next winter, as well as being a part of the World Championships next February in Oberstdorf, Germany. Geraghty-Moats has established herself as a notable international figure in the push for Olympic inclusion. It was the second straight year she has earned the athlete of the year recognition.
Ski Jumping Athlete of the Year
Wisconsin teen Andrew Urlaub had a breakout season at every level of international competition. Urlaub, an 18-year old out of the Flying Eagles Ski Club in Eau Claire, Wis., scored five top-30 finishes on the FIS Cup, including a fourth in Zakopane, Poland – just a point off the podium. He also notched it up a level with five top-30s on the higher level Continental Cup. And he came away with a top-20 finish at the Junior World Championships in Oberwiesenthal, Germany.
Snowboard Athlete of the Year
Wow, what a breakout season 17-year-old Dusty Henricksen (Mammoth Lakes, Calif./U.S. Snowboard Rookie Team) had! Henricksen made history at the U.S. Open, landing the first-ever backside quad cork 1800 in slopestyle competition. He also took Youth Olympic Games gold in slopestyle and earned his first World Cup win at the Land Rover U.S. Grand Prix at his home of Mammoth Mountain. What stood out all season was his maturity, optimism and positivity as he solidified himself as a top contender in the world of competitive snowboarding.