PARK CITY, UT (May 17) – Nordic combined skiers Todd Lodwick (Steamboat Springs, CO) and Billy Demong (Vermontville, NY) received the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association's highest athlete honors at an awards ceremony Friday (May 15) in Park City. Lee Todd, who has dedicated four decades of his life to serving the skiing community, was the recipient of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association's Julius Blegen Award, which is presented annually to a USSA member who contributed outstanding service to the sports of skiing or snowboarding in the United States.
The honors were presented Friday (May 15) at the organization's annual awards banquet during USSA Congress 2009 in Park City.
Nordic Skiers Dominate Athlete Awards
The USSA's highest athletic honor, the Beck Award, went to Lodwick who played a large role in one of the best seasons in the U.S. Nordic Combined Ski Team's history. Lodwick came back from retirement to push his way to World Cup podium success. But it was his performance at World Championships in which he won a mass start event and a Gundersen for two gold medals which marked him as the recipient of the Beck.
Lodwick, who is looking to become a five-time Olympian in 2010, had an incredibly decorated career prior to his World Championship success. That career began with a Junior World Championships gold in 1996, six World Cup wins, the 2004 Grand Prix championship in the World Cup season and Summer Grand Prix title, and eight straight seasons of being in the top nine world rankings.
"It's awesome to receive the Beck. This season was an incredible journey for me and to cap it off by being recognized with the USSA's highest award for an athlete is an honor for me," Lodwick said. "I'm looking forward to next season and the continued success I hope to share with my team and the USA."
World nordic combined champion Billy Demong (Vermontville, NY) was honored with the Wallace "Buddy" Werner Award given to an outstanding competitor who demonstrated leadership and good sportsmanship. It is presented in memory of Buddy Werner, an outstanding U.S. Alpine racer who was killed in an avalanche after the 1964 Olympics at the height of his ski career.
Demong was cited for his overall sportsmanship, his motivating energy and input, and his efforts to coach and bring young people into his sport. He donates his time to helping developing juniors during summer camps with both coaching and inspiration to follow in his footsteps.
"We have a great team and the showed that at World Championships this year," said Demong. "This is an award that I share with them."
"With 14 World Championship medals, our awards could have gone to any of a number of deserving athletes," said USSA Vice President, Athletics, Luke Bodensteiner. "The recognition of Todd Lodwick and Billy Demong is a real credit to what these two athletes have done in nordic combined."
Lee Todd Honored with Blegen Award
Todd, who has served USSA's sports as a staff member and a volunteer over a period spanning four decades, received the organization's highest volunteer honor, the Julius Blegen Award. A longtime cross country skier, Lee joined the USSA staff and worked for 10 years from 1978-89, leaving his position as USSA nordic program director to takeover International Special Olympics. For much of the next 20 years, he worked as a volunteer serving in a variety of domestic and international leadership positions.
His work with the FIS was vital to the growth of cross country skiing internationally – and always with the USA's interests at heart. He served nearly 20 years on the FIS Cross Country Rules and Controls Sub-committee, as well as the non-European representative to the FIS Cross Country Committee from 1998 until his retirement in 2008.
Domestically, he played a pivotal leadership role as a USSA board member for cross country from 1994 through 2006. During that time he skillfully represented cross country skiing building consensus within the USSA Cross Country Sport Committee.
Stratton Mountain USSA Club of the Year
Stratton Mountain School was recognized with the USSA Club of the Year Award for producing excellence in athletic growth and success. Statton is one of the nation's most advanced multisport clubs offering alpine, freestyle, nordic and snowboarding programs. Stratton also received the USSA Snowboarding Club of the Year award while cross country coach Sverre Caldwell was USSA Cross Country domestic coach of the year.
"When I meet with new students and parents every year, many talk about wanting to become an Olympian," said Headmaster Chris Kaltsas. "Our involvement with the USSA is very important to us."
"Our USSA clubs are the heart of our athletic program, introducing athletes to the sport and guiding them through the pipeline to the national team," said Bodensteiner. "Stratton has been one of our strongest multisport clubs for many years and is an outstanding recipient for the award."
Christensen USSA Coach of the Year
Matt Christensen received the USSA's 2009 Coach of the Year Award. Christensen's award comes on the heels of a season in which he led his athletes to a World Championship gold medal, five World Cup podiums and two athletes finishing in the top three of the World Cup overall standings.
Under his watchful eye in 2009, Christensen's athletes reached many landmarks. Emily Cook (Belmont, MA) landed two different triple twisting doubles, marking the first time for a U.S. woman to accomplish such a feat and earned her the highest score for an U.S. woman aerialist.
Jana Lindsey (Black Hawk, SD) also performed two triple twisting doubles and Lacy Schnoor (Draper, UT) performed and landed her first triple twisting double in competition. Ryan St. Onge and Jeret "Speedy" Peterson captured three wins out of the seven World Cups in which they competed, which earned St. Onge second and Peterson third in the World Cup aerials standings. Christensen also coached as six of seven athletes made finals at World Championships - St. Onge took home the win.
"This was a pivotal year for the U.S. Ski Team's aerial program," said Bodensteiner. "Matt's experience and ability to progress athletes is making a difference. Not only was that seen in Ryan St. Onge's wins, but in the big steps taken by the women this season."
Ghent Honored as Development Coach
Former U.S. Ski Team athlete Karen Ghent was also named USSA Development Coach of the Year. Ghent, who is the Ski & Snowboard Club Vail alpine program director, is known for her passion in advancing developing athletes to higher levels in their athletic careers. Ghent has been with Ski & Snowboard Club Vail for over a decade, during which time she led the restructuring of the alpine program, which resulted in a "best of class" ranking both divisionally and nationally.
Karen exemplifies the level of professionalism, core values and leadership that the USSA is proud to recognize. She has set the standard and raised the bar as an alpine coach at Ski and Snowboard Club Vail. Not only does she embrace the coaching and mentoring role for young athletes but she readily engages and contributes to the USSA Alpine Program.
Copper Wins Event Award
USSA's Paul Bacon Award for the greatest contribution in the field of race organization was awarded to Jeff White and the Copper Mountain (CO) race department.
Copper Mountain has been a traditional event and early season camp host for USSA alpine and snowboard competitions for decades. Under White's leadership, Copper has stepped up its commitment to snowboarding, this year hosting four major events including a U.S. Snowboarding Revolution Tour, Race to the Cup, SBX NorAm and the opening U.S. Snowboarding Grand Prix.
Mallon Named Westhaven Recipient
USSA Snowboarding Sport Committee Chairman Mike Mallon (Stratton, VT) was the recipient of the Westhaven Award, which is given annually to recognize an outstanding USSA/ FIS technical delegate. It is the organization's highest award for a competition official.
Mallon has, for two decades, been heavily involved in the sport of snowboarding from being an athlete to his current job as a coach and FIS technical delegate. He is also one of two FIS U.S. Snowboarding technical delegates to be given the opportunity to work at the World Championships, which he did this season in Korea.
Andy Daly Honored for Service
USSA's John J. Clair Jr. Award for outstanding service which benefited the U.S. Ski or Snowboard Teams went to longtime board member and supporter Andy Daly (Vail, CO).
Daly's background touches on four decades where, as a U.S. ski industry leader, he has played an influential role as an active and energetic supporter of the USSA. As a resort executive, he played a pivotal role in ski and snowboarding competition, including strong support for racing at Vail and its family of resorts when he was president and CEO. He continues to serve as an active trustee for the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team Foundation, and chairs the strategic planning committee for the USSA board.
Korfanta Recognized for International Service
Karen Korfanta (Park City, UT) was honored with the USSA's Bud and Mary Little Award, recognizing an individual who has contributed significantly to USSA through long-term involvement in the FIS or Olympic sports communities.
A former U.S. Ski Team athlete, Korfanta is a distinguished and respected leader in the alpine community. She serves as a volunteer on divisional, national, and international committees contributing her expertise and knowledge to the safe and fair conduct of alpine sport for the benefit of all alpine athletes, grassroots to elite. She was the sport manager for Park City Mountain Resort at the 2002 Olympics, and a longtime chair of its World Cup organizing committee. She is presently the chair of the FIS Subcommittee for Ladies' Alpine Skiing where she plays an instrumental role.
Andy Shepard Wins Youth Honor
Andy Shepard (Presque Isle, ME), head of the Maine Winter Sports Center, was honored with the USSA's Russell Wilder Award, given annually to recognize the most outstanding effort in focusing the interests of American youth on the sports of skiing or snowboard.
Shepard has led the effort of motivating 3,000 kids in northern Maine, and about 5,000 statewide, to participate in ski sports through the Maine Winter Sports Center in Presque Isle. The cross country ski leasing program alone involves 2,000 pairs of skis! He is constantly searching for ways to increase the numbers of skiing youth in Maine. MWSC has been hosting USSA events since 2000, including SuperTours, U.S. Championship events, and has the Junior Olympics set for 2010.
Heckert Recognized for Dedication to Nordic Sports
Longtime ski jumping official Chuck Heckert (Park City, UT) was recognized with the West Family Award, given annually to recognize an outstanding USSA certified official. It is presented by the Fraser and Teddy West family.
A former ski jumping athlete, Heckert began coaching in Winter Park in the 1970s and has been a USSA official since 1979. He has remained active in the USSA's governance for 30 years, serving since 2004 as its ski jumping and nordic combined sport committee chair, and has remained dedicated to nordic sports for his entire life. At the 2002 Olympics he served as the venue chief at the Utah Olympic Park, where he also managed the ski jumping facility.
U.S. Ski Team Alumni Recognized
In addition to the USSA awards, three retiring U.S. Ski Team athletes were honored. Each was presented with a leather alumni jacket and recognized for their accomplishments.
The recognitions included cross country skier Wendy Wagner (Park City, UT), ski jumper Brenna Ellis (Park City, UT) and moguls skier Tim Preston (Park City, UT). Wagner, a two-time Olympian and six-year team veteran, was a six-time U.S. champion who retired in 2006. Ellis, one of the pioneers of women's ski jumping who spent four seasons on the Continental Cup circuit, retired this past season. Preston, who also retired this season, was the 2003 World Junior Championship silver medalist and 2006 NorAm champion.