John Coughlin

Figure skater John Coughlin explains full back tattoo

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If figure skating is artistic, John Coughlin‘s back is the ultimate canvas.

The U.S. pairs skater’s entire back is covered by a tattoo of St. Michael to honor his mother, Stacy, who died in 2010. Coughlin, 28, got the tattoo before the 2011 World Championships.

“It’s the saint who my mother prayed to a lot to get my dad home safely because he was a policeman,” Coughlin said at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships on Wednesday, according to ESPN.com. “I just wanted something to remember my mom by because he’s the saint for policeman.”

The tattoo reportedly took 10 hours to complete over three sessions.

In July, Coughlin wrote a letter to his mom via a blog post on TeamUSA.org.

“I hope you look at where I am and feel like all of the sacrifices the family made for me were worth it,” he wrote. “More importantly, I hope you are proud of the man I am trying to become. I have decided to approach whatever I am meant to do from now on in this sport as a gift.”

Coughlin and partner Caydee Denney are favorites to earn one of two U.S. Olympic spots in pairs figure skating this week. They open with the short program Thursday evening. They are the 2012 U.S. champions. It would be Coughlin’s first Olympics and Denney’s second.

It’s a shame the tattoo will be covered by Coughlin’s costume on the ice.

“I don’t know if someone has ever skated topless,” he said with a smile, according to ESPN.com. “It might hurt our component mark a little.”

Olympic hopefuls and their tattoos

U.S. Figure Skating Championships schedule, previews

Michael Phelps, Katie Ledecky big winners at Team USA Awards

Michael Phelps, Katie Ledecky
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Swimmers Michael Phelps and Katie Ledecky were named the Male and Female Athletes of the Olympic Games at the Team USA Awards, which took place Wednesday evening at Georgetown University’s McDonough Arena in Washington, D.C.

Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time, claimed six medals in Rio to increase his Olympic medal total to 28.

Ledecky broke two world records on her way to winning four golds and one silver in Rio.

Other winners included:

Team of the Olympic Games: Final Five (women’s gymnastics)

Female Athlete of the Paralympic Games: Tatyana McFadden (track and field)

Male Athlete of the Paralympic Games: Brad Snyder (swimming)

Team of the Paralympic Games: Women’s sitting volleyball

The show will air on NBCSN on Oct. 4 from 10-11 p.m. ET.

MORE: Best photos from red carpet of the Team USA Awards

Best photos from red carpet of the Team USA Awards

Twitter: @TeamUSA
Twitter: @TeamUSA
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Swimmers Allison Schmitt and Elizabeth Beisel hosted the Team USA Awards Red Carpet Show live on Facebook from Washington, D.C. on Wednesday.

The show will air on NBCSN on Oct. 4 from 10-11 p.m. ET.

In the meantime, here are photos from the red carpet:

400 free gold medalists 🏅 #teamusaindc @usaswimming @kledecky

A photo posted by Becca Meyers (@beccameyers20) on