PARK CITY, Utah (May 15) - Alaska Pacific University Nordic Center's Erik Flora (Anchorage), who has been influential in the careers of many cross country skiers including Kikkan Randall (Anchorage), is being named USSA Domestic Coach of the Year.
Flora will be honored at the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association's awards dinner May 16 in Park City during USSA Congress 2008, along with Matt Whitcomb (Cross Country International Coach of the Year). and Lasse Ottesen and Craig Ward as Nordic Combined and Nordic Domestic Coaches of the year. They led a group of 12 coaches recognized by the USSA in each of its specific sport programs. Alaskan Honored as Domestic Coach of Year
Flora was named USSA Development Coach of the Year for his commitment to the training of athletes as well as his dedication to providing opportunities to nordic skiers everywhere. The head coach at the Alaska Pacific University Nordic Ski Center, Flora has been a key factor in the success of the top nordic skiers in the nation, including the first woman to win a cross country World Cup, Kikkan Randall (Anchorage, AK). He was also named the Cross Country Domestic Coach of the Year.
"It's a huge honor to receive this award. We're very pleased. We've been a development program here for about 10 years and the program has really been growing in strength," Flora said. "We've had a fantastic season so to receive the award at the end of the year is terrific." Whitcomb Named Cross Country International Coach of Year
Matt Whitcomb, a coach for the U.S. Ski Team's Continental Cupsquad, is the Cross Country International Coach of the Year. Whitcomb provided the long-term training and guidance that led Liz Stephen (East Montpelier, VT) to her unprecedented success as a bronze medalist at the U23 World Championships this season. Stephen's success illustrated Whitcomb's desire to push his athletes to strive for success in areas that have eluded the team in success in previous years. Ottesen, Ward Honored as Nordic Combined Coaches
Olympic medalist Lasse Ottesen is the Nordic Combined International Coach of the Year. Ottesen, who competed on the World Cup circuit for 11 years, joined the U.S. coaching staff after the 2004 season and took over the nordic combined squad with the 2007 season. Under his direction, Bill Demong (Vermontville, NY) reached new heights in American nordic skiing history by finishing third in the World Cup standings - the highest mark achieved by an American nordic skier. Ottesen left the Team after the 2008 season to return to his native Norway.
A nine-year U.S. Cross Country Ski Team athlete and the 1980 U.S. Olympic Nordic Team captain, Craig Ward (Aspen, CO) is the Nordic Combined Domestic Coach of the Year. Ward, who's currently working with Aspen Valley Ski Club to raise funds for a new jumping complex, is known for his commitment to strengthening the nordic combined and ski jumping disciplines through the creation of programs and fundraising for facilities. In 2002 he petitioned AVSC to re-start a ski jumping program, which continues to grow thanks to his leadership.