Vonn, Garnsey headline award winners for USSA | VailDaily.com

Vonn, Garnsey headline award winners for USSA

Daily staff report
Vail, CO Colorado
Special to the DailyJohn Garnsey.

PARK CITY, Utah – World Cup champion Lindsey Vonn, of Vail, was honored by the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association with the Beck International Award, the organization’s highest athlete honor.

The association also recognized longtime race official John Garnsey, of Vail Resorts, with its Julius Blegen Award for three decades of service to the sport. The awards were presented May 11 in Park City at the annual USSA Congress at the Park City Marriott.

The local award winners were:

Presented to a dedicated USSA volunteer for a lifetime of service to the sport. As a ski area manager and a FIS technical delegate, few have done more to impact the sport of ski racing in the United States than John Garnsey, of Vail Resorts. As a key leader of two FIS Alpine Ski World Championships (1989 and 1999), and a lightning rod for Vail/Beaver Creek’s successful 2015 bid, Garnsey has made a vital difference. Whether it’s producing the best World Cup ski races in the world on the Birds of Prey course or managing races at every level for athletes as a technical delegate, his impact on the sport of ski racing made him a candidate for the USSA’s highest honor, the Julius Blegen Award. Garnsey cut his teeth in the industry at Waterville Valley, N.H., in the early ’70s, taking his knowledge of ski racing to Vail. He rose through the ranks at the resort, eventually heading the Vail Valley Foundation and managing the 1989 World Championships. He remains active in ski racing as its most visible face at Vail Resorts, where he serves as president of international.

“John Garnsey has made a formidable difference for the athletes in our sport,” said USSA President and CEO Bill Marolt. “His efforts as a lightning rod for the sport have paid great dividends for athletes like Bode Miller, Ted Ligety, Lindsey Vonn and Daron Rahlves, who have all won World Cups on the Birds of Prey course.”

Presented to the top USSA athlete in international competition. The U.S. Alpine Ski Team’s Lindsey Vonn, of Vail, was selected as the USSA’s Beck International Award recipient, the USSA’s highest athletic honor. Her record-smashing season included an American record 12 World Cup races en route to a fourth FIS Alpine World Cup overall title, a fifth straight downhill globe and fourth consecutive super-G crown and third straight super combined title. Among those victories are two giant slalom wins – the first opened the season in Soelden, Austria, and the second clinched the overall title on March 9, a staggering five races before the end of the season. In addition to her four titles last winter, Vonn also reset the women’s single season World Cup points record to 1,980, a full 578 points over her nearest competitor.

“Lindsey Vonn’s 14 World Cup wins and three titles this season were amazing athletic accomplishments,” Marolt said. “It was a magical year of best-in-the-world performances, with 10 athletes winning 14 season titles.”

Vonn was also named USSA’s Alpine Athlete of the Year.

Presented in recognition of service to the International Ski Federation or U.S. Olympic Committee. Jim Roberts, of Vail, longtime mountain manager at Vail and Beaver Creek, was named the recipient of the USSA’s Bud and Mary Little Award for his decades of work to provide alpine ski racers with best-in-the-world courses. Roberts has been a fixture at World Championships at Vail/Beaver Creek, including the resort’s annual Audi Birds of Prey World Cup. The award is presented annually to an individual who has contributed significantly to the USSA skiing or snowboarding interests through a long-term involvement in the FIS or Olympic sports communities. The award is named in honor of longtime USSA and FIS leader Amos “Bud” Little, who was instrumental in helping elevate the position of ski racing in America during his service on the FIS Council.

Presented to an outstanding USSA athlete who demonstrated leadership and good sportsmanship. The U.S. Alpine Ski Team’s Sarah Schleper, of Vail, was selected to receive the USSA’s Buddy Werner Award. The honor is given annually to an outstanding USSA competitor who demonstrated leadership and good sportsmanship in national or international competition. Over the course of her 15 years with the U.S. Ski Team, the 33-year-old Schleper has raced in four Olympics and five World Championships and amassed 186 World Cup starts. She’s also risen to become a prolific team leader. Schleper’s energy both in training and on race day is infectious, boosting the level of performance from her teammates and coaches.

That influence was never so evident as it was in her final World Cup season, as she helped teammates Mikaela Shiffrin, of Eagle-Vail, and Resi Stiegler, of Jackson, Wyo., climb onto their first World Cup podiums. Shiffrin, who was born the year Schleper started her first World Cup race, landed a slalom third the day Schleper skied her final World Cup gates. Schleper successfully skied among the elite for three seasons while raising her young son, Lasse, who turned 4 just after her World Cup retirement.

“She is truly one of a kind,” Stiegler said. “She is a brilliantly beautiful woman who has accomplished so much in her life. I am so happy to have been around to have her support, her inspiration and her energy.”