WASHINGTON, D.C. – The United States Olympic Committee today announced the Sochi 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games honorees for Best of U.S., a new awards program that recognizes outstanding performances from the Olympic and Paralympic Games, as determined by fan vote. The Best of U.S. Awards Show will air April 7 on NBCSN from 7-8 p.m. ET.
For Olympic sport, slopestyle snowboarder Sage Kotsenburg (Park City, Utah) was named Best Male Olympian, luge athlete Erin Hamlin (Remsen, N.Y.) was selected Best Female Olympian, the U.S. ice dancing team of Meryl Davis (West Bloomfield, Mich.) and Charlie White (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.) was honored as Team of the Games, and Noelle Pikus-Pace (Orem, Utah) took home the award for Moment of the Games with her medal celebration in women’s skeleton.
"I'm pretty much in awe," said Hamlin after the announcement. "It's so amazing to not only get a medal, but then be honored because of it, especially with the company I had in the female athlete category. And to have it be a fan vote for a sport like luge is amazing for our program. I can't begin to say how excited I am. Such a crazy couple of months."
Meanwhile on the Paralympic side, alpine skier Mark Bathum (Mercer Island, Wash.) was tabbed Best Male Paralympian, alpine skier Stephanie Jallen (Harding, Pa.) collected two awards for Best Female Paralympian and Moment of the Games, and the men’s sled hockey team was designated Team of the Games.
Additionally, Horace Mann Elementary School (West Allis, Wis.) took home the Fan of the Games award, while figure skating coach Kori Ade was selected as the recipient of the USG Building Dreams Award, which honors an individual who has gone above and beyond in his/her support of Team USA athletes.
The 10 awards were presented during a live taping of the inaugural Best of U.S. Awards Show supported by USG, held April 2 at the Warner Theatre in Washington, D.C. The awards show featured NBC’s Willie Geist as host, and figure skaters and commentators Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski as red carpet and backstage correspondents.
Best Male Olympian: Sage Kotsenburg
After landing a trick he had never before attempted, Kotsenburg earned the first gold medal of the Sochi Games in the inaugural Olympic slopestyle snowboarding event. He scored a 93.50 when he landed a 1620 Japan with an air mute grab – a move that he invented and nicknamed the “Holy Crail.” His win marked the first time a U.S. athlete secured the first gold medal of the Games since 1952.
Best Female Olympian: Erin Hamlin
With a bronze-medal finish, Hamlin became the first-ever U.S. Olympic medalist in singles luge. The results were even more impressive considering the 2009 world champion had not stood on a world cup podium in two years. Her performance also broke a 34-year German/Austrian hold on the women’s luge Olympic podium.
Team of the Olympic Games: Meryl Davis and Charlie White
Davis and White captured the first U.S. ice dancing gold medal and captained Team USA to the bronze medal in the inaugural figure skating team event. The duo, which has been skating together for the last 17 years, set world-record scores in the short dance, free dance and total.
Moment of the Olympic Games: Noelle Pikus-Pace's medal celebration
After a career altered by injury and a fourth-place finish at the Vancouver Games in 2010, Pikus-Pace's husband encouraged her to give her Olympic dream one more shot. With her family by her side, Pikus-Pace won the silver medal in skeleton with a four-run time of 3:53.86. The 31-year-old mother of two celebrated the victory with her husband and children, who were waiting at the finish line.
Best Male Paralympian: Mark Bathum, Alpine Skiing
Bathum, along with guide Cade Yamamoto, landed on the podium twice in the men’s visually impaired alpine skiing competition at the Sochi Games. His wins include silver medals in the super-G and the super combined events.
Best Female Paralympian: Stephanie Jallen, Alpine Skiing
Jallen won a bronze medal in her first-ever Paralympic competition – the women’s super-G standing event. She also won a second bronze in the women’s super combined standing event.
Team of the Paralympic Games: Men’s U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey Team
The U.S. men’s sled hockey team claimed the first-ever back-to-back Paralympic sled hockey gold medals win in the history of the Games with its 1-0 win against Russia.
Moment of the Paralympic Games: Stephanie Jallen winning bronze in her first Paralympic race
Jallen had an outstanding performance in her first-ever Paralympic race, earning a bronze medal in the women’s super-G standing event. Her excitement was contagious at the finish, as she and teammates rejoiced with pure joy.
Fan of the Games: Horace Mann Elementary
Stephanie Ticali’s second- and third-grade students from Horace Mann Elementary in West Alllis, Wis., were selected Team USA’s biggest supporters from the Sochi Games. The school is part of Classroom Champions, a program that connects Olympic athletes with students across the country and motivates them to set goals, play fair and recognize their potential. Drawing on inspiration from athlete mentor Erin Hamlin, the students learned that hard work, perseverance and healthy living are among the building blocks to a successful future.
USG Building Dreams Award: Kori Ade
Ade has dedicated 14 years to developing 2014 U.S. Olympic figure skater Jason Brown into a world-class competitor, guiding him through the junior ranks to his first Olympic appearance in Sochi, where he contributed to Team USA’s bronze medal and placed ninth in the men’s competition. A true mentor, Ade encouraged and challenged Brown to achieve his full potential – both on and off the ice. In addition, Ade is the founder of CitySkate Outreach, which focuses on helping professional skaters transition into coaching careers in the Chicagoland area.
About the Best of U.S.
The United States Olympic Committee created the Best of U.S awards program in 2014 to recognize outstanding performances from the Olympic and Paralympic Games. All athlete award winners were selected by fan voting, while the USG Building Dreams and Fan of the Games awards were selected by a committee comprised of Olympic and Paralympic family members.
For more information on the Best of U.S. Awards, visit TeamUSA.org.