locals headline USSA honors
May 20, 2006
Special to the Record
Two of Park City’s gold medallists from Turin – Olympic champion Ted Ligety and Paralympic champion Stephani Victor – led a host of award-winners at the recently concluded U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) Chairman’s Banquet.
Both also showed they’re gold-medal recipients, too – Ligety (who’s sponsored by Park City Mountain Resort) with his aw-shucks, gee-whiz-Mom relentless appreciation and ability to say thanks while Victor (sponsored by Deer Valley) produced a brief but high-voltage, emotional thank-you to the sold-out crowd at The Yarrow.
Victor heartily endorsed USSA’s "Best in the World!" mantra, which came in for some criticism during the Olympic winter and thanked the organization for its support of disabled skiing and USSA’s athletes.
"There’s power in setting a goal. You better show up to achieve that goal," Victor said after wheeling herself on stage to accept her special recognition honor from outgoing USSA Chairman Chuck Ferries. All gold medallists – five able-bodied athletes from the Olympics and five from the Paralympics – received the rare Special Recognition Award.
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"There’s something to be said about having a vision. I disagree with the criticism," she said. Victor, who lost both legs in a bizarre traffic accident in 1995 in California, explained she had decided in 1999 to "recreate" herself as a ski racer. She won the 2004 sit-skiers slalom world championship but in March she closed the Paralympics by capturing the slalom gold in the so-called Disabled Olympics.
Ligety, who not only won the alpine combined title at the Winter Games but also collected his first World Cup victory, also was honored with the Beck International Award, USSA’s highest athletic honor.
"I told ’em I wasn’t going to give a speech," he smiled, "but since I’m up here…" The Winter Sports School grad, just 21, said it was "great" to follow the pipeline from the Park City Farm Team to Park City Ski Team to the U.S. Ski Team…and onto the Olympic podium.
The 2005 Beck Award winner was World Cup champion Bode Miller, who also had won the downhill and super-G gold titles at the 2005 World Championships on the other side of Italy from Turin (in Bormio) and the 2004 Beck title-holder was Daron Rahlves, who had won four World Cup races, including the Hahnenkamm super-G, that season.
Peter Kellogg, a New York City financier who has been a driving force in USSA fundraising, earned the Julius Blegen Award, USSA’s highest award for outstanding contributions. Waterville Valley (N.H.) was honored as USSA Club of the Year while Coach of the Year went to Bud Keene, retiring halfpipe coach – U.S. riders went 1-2-4 in both the men’s and women’s Olympic halfpipe contest, with Glenn Eddy from Maine’s Carrabassett Valley Academy selected as Domestic Coach of the Year.
Bob Dart, longtime alpine official from Winter Park, Colo., received the Westhaven Award, given for longtime contributions to alpine skiing.
The Buddy Werner Award, given for outstanding sportsmanship, went to Olympian Lindsey Kildow, who rebounded from a jarring training crash – which put her in a hospital overnight – to return and compete at the Winter Games without a whimper despite having her bid for a medal understandably jarred. She provided, in the view of voters, leadership and a strong show of sportsmanship. She previously had received the Olympic Spirit Award from the U.S. Olympic Committee for her performance.
Among other top awards:
– Phil Fell of the Park City Snowboard Team was snowboarding’s Domestic Coach of the Year while Brian Lake, U.S. C Team aerials coach, was chosen as freestyle’s International Coach of the Year.
– The Wasatch Freestyle Foundation is the USSA Freestyle Club of the Year.
– Outgoing cross-country sprint coach Vida Loefshus was his sports International Coach of the Year with Chris Grover of Sun Valley chosen as Domestic Coach of the Year. Coincidentally, Grover returns to the U.S. Ski Team staff as sprint coach, replacing Loefshus, who is returning to Norway.
– Alpine International Coach of the Year is Mike Morin, men’s slalom and giant slalom head coach, while Darrell Gray from Burke Mountain Academy (VT) was Domestic Coach of the Year.
– Tim "Swampy" LaMarche, veteran coach and Intermountain race official, was honored with the West Family Cup for his ongoing outstanding service to competition.
The USSA convention, which included a variety of meetings across the organizations sports – alpine, cross-country, disabled, freestyle, jumping, Nordic combined and snowboarding, concluded Sunday at The Yarrow.