Athletes, coaches and organizations honored at 2018 U.S. Ski and Snowboard Chairman’s Awards
May 5, 2018
A who's who of athletes, coaches, officials and administrators gathered in Park City to celebrate U.S. Ski and Snowboard's Chairman's Awards. Several Park City residents and regional institutions were among the numerous honorees, including Erik Leirfallom, high performance coach at the National Ability Center, Rowmark's junior program director Troy Price, and the Utah Olympic Park.
Leirfallom was named Adaptive Domestic Coach of the Year.
"It was really neat to see the hard work come to fruition, and to be recognized for it in this room was pretty sweet," he said, adding that none of his work could be done without the support of the NAC. The organization provides athletic opportunity for a broad range of people, including those with orthopedic, spinal cord, neuromuscular, visual and hearing impairments, and cognitive and developmental disabilities.
"Having the NAC be such a welcoming force, a really good support system for us and our athletes, is an amazing thing," he said. "We just go out there and coach. The athletes keep it fun and then you need your support system to do what you need to do."
This summer, Leirfallom will take the NAC high performance team to train at Mount Hood in Oregon. The team won numerous medals on the Nor-Am circuit and in FIS sanctioned domestic races like the Huntsman Cup, held at Park City Mountain Resort in February.
The Utah Olympic Park won the John J. Clair Jr. Award for its service to U.S. Ski and Snowboard.
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Tom Kelly, emcee and communications vice president at U.S. Ski and Snowboard, said the UOP is integral to U.S. Ski and Snowboard.
"The park has been pivotal to our success in the acrobatic sports of freeski and snowboarding," he said.
Specifically, the UOP was crucial in creating both the splash pool project and the airbag project, which allow athletes to safely practice risky big-air, slopestyle, aerials and moguls tricks.
Kelly said U.S. Ski and Snowboard was thankful for the way the UOP handled the creation of the airbag, which was an extremely rushed project.
"This was a project that normally would have been a three- to five-year project, and we shoehorned it into about 12 months," Kelly said.
Two years after the initial idea, the airbag was in place, which gave athletes enough time to improve their performance before the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
"That includes the fundraising, construction, deployment and getting athletes on it," Kelly said. "So it was a really, really, really fast-tracked project. It made a difference for us in Pyeongchang and it will make a difference for kids in the future; that they can come to the park in the summertime and go into that airbag. We still have the splash pool, but it's hard hitting that water. The airbag allows you to do a lot of things you can't quite accomplish in the pool."
Price received U.S. Ski and Snowboard's award for Development Coach of the Year. He credited Rowmark's positive environment for his success as a coach, citing a culture of putting the student-athletes first.
Price also recognized Ray Miller, his own coach and mentor, who passed away last year.
Other highlights from the night included acceptance speeches by Kikkan Randall and Rosie Brennan for Alaska Pacific University's Club of the Year Award. Randall was presented with a cardboard box full of awards for her commitment to the sport of cross-country. Randall and Jessie Diggins won the first Olympic medal for the cross-country team, a gold in the team sprint in Pyeongchang.
"I think I get a minute per award (to speak), so I have at least 10 minutes to work with," Randall said.
"Sport has given me so much," she added. "Thank you for this amazing ride. It was more than I could have imagined and now the door is open (for others to succeed.)"
She, her teammate Liz Stephen, and sit ski Paralympian Tyler Walker were some of the athletes recognized as they finished their last season with the team.
"Thank you for all you have done for your sports," said Chairman Dexter Paine, wishing them well in the next stage of their lives.
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