Vail’s Vonn wins Olympic Committee’s top honor |

Vail’s Vonn wins Olympic Committee’s top honor

Vail Daily staff report
Vail, CO Colorado

VAIL, Colorado – The U.S. Olympic Committee Friday bestowed its highest honors on a pair of Colorado skiers – Vail’s Lindsey Vonn, and Nordic combined skier Todd Lodwick and

Vonn was named the 2009 USOC sportswoman of the year while Lodwick, of Steamboat Springs,won the men’s award. Monoskier Stephani Victor wom the award for Paralympic sportswoman of the year.

“Today we recognize and congratulate the best athletes that the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Movement had to offer in 2009,” said Mike English, the Olympic Committee’s chief of sport performance. “And it’s only fitting that the biggest stars over the past year will now help lead Team USA into competition in Vancouver beginning three weeks from today.”

Vonn dominated in 2009 en route to becoming one of the most successful female skiers in U.S. history. She was the World Cup champ, also taking the downhill and super-G titles. She also broke Tamara McKinney’s records for the most World Cup victories (19) and World Cup podium finishes (45). She capped her year with gold medals in the downhill and super G at the 2009 World Championships in Val d’Isere, France. Friday she won her 29th career World Cup in Italy.

Vonn is the first U.S. Ski Team member to win sportswoman of the year since Picabo Street in 1998.

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“This is a huge honor, especially with the Olympics just a few weeks away,” Vonn said. “This past year has been amazing and because of that, it’s been so cool to see how many people are getting excited about alpine skiing. Regardless of whether I win a race or crash, I get so many notes of encouragement from fans. That says something special about the Olympic spirit.”

Lodwick is headed to his fifth Olympic Games on the heels of a very successful 2009. He returned from a two-year retirement to win a pair of gold medals at the 2009 World Championships in Liberec, Czech Republic, becoming only the second American to win a nordic combined world title. His rise coincides with the rest of the U.S. Nordic Combined Team, which is stronger than ever heading into Vancouver.

Lodwick becomes the first Nordic combined skier ever to win sportsman of the year and the first U.S. Ski Team athlete to win the award since Jonny Moseley in 1998.

“It’s humbling to be recognized amongst my Olympic peers,” said Lodwick. “I’m especially proud to receive this honor on behalf of my sport. So many people have supported us for so many years that it’s heartwarming to know that our sport and my accomplishments, and those of my teammates, are meaningful.”

“Todd’s return from retirement to win two World Championship gold medals is a story of personal dedication towards a goal,” said Marolt. “But along with his individual accomplishments, he has worked together with his teammates to build a strong nordic combined team for today and the future.”

Victor skied away with the award, winning three gold medals and a silver at the 2009 Alpine Skiing World Championships in High 1 Resort, Korea. Victor added a gold medal in the slalom at the U.S. Adaptive Alpine Ski Championships to her world titles in slalom, giant slalom and super combined.

Teammate Laurie Stephens won the award in 2005.

“It is a tremendous honor for me to receive this award as I head into my third Paralympic Winter Games,” said Victor. “I’m especially proud to be recognized by the U.S. Olympic Committee, which has also given me the opportunity to be a part of Team for Tomorrow. For me, winning is not just what happens in a race but how you live your life on and off the hill.”

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