Kotsenburg, Davis/White, Pikus-Pace among Best of U.S. Awards winners

Sage Kotsenburg
0 Comments

WASHINGTON – Sage Kotsenburg, Erin Hamlin, Meryl Davis and Charlie White and Noelle Pikus-Pace earned top honors at the first Best of U.S. Awards at Warner Theatre on Wednesday night.

Kotsenburg, the first Olympic snowboard slopestyle champion, won Male Athlete of the Sochi Olympics. He beat fellow gold medalists Joss Christensen (ski slopestyle), Ted Ligety (giant slalom) and David Wise (ski halfpipe). All awards were decided by fan voting.

“I didn’t really prepare a speech,” Kotsenburg said after being presented with his award from two-time Olympic softball medalist Jennie Finch. “I didn’t know this was an awards show until last night.”

Hamlin, who won the first U.S. Olympic singles luge medal (bronze), earned Female Athlete of the Olympics over gold medalists Jamie Anderson (snowboard slopestyle), Maddie Bowman (ski halfpipe) and Mikaela Shiffrin (slalom).

“This is unreal,” Hamlin said after getting her award from 2010 Olympic figure skating champion Evan Lysacek. “Luge, like most of you know, isn’t the most popular sport. … People know what it is now a little bit, I think. It’s a step in the right direction.”

Davis and White, the first U.S. Olympic ice dancing champions, won Team of the Olympics over U.S. men’s and women’s bobsled bronze and silver medalists.

Pikus-Pace, a mother of two who slid to skeleton silver, was chosen Moment of the Olympics winner for her post-race celebration.

“We’ve all been through so much, so many moments to get to this point in our lives,” Pikus-Pace said. “That was just a glimpse of the gratitude that I feel in my heart for all those that have helped me to get to this moment.”

Pikus-Pace won over T.J. Oshie’s shootout performance to beat Russia, the men’s slopestyle skiing podium sweep, the men’s short track relay silver and Bode Miller becoming the oldest Alpine skiing medalist at 36.

NBC’s Willie Geist hosted the event honoring the best American performances from the Sochi Olympics and Paralympics. The U.S. finished second in the Olympic medal table with 28 total, its most ever at an Olympics held outside North America.

Figure skating analysts Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski conducted interviews with each winner, and Stephen Colbert even made a video appearance. The show will air on NBCSN on Monday at 7 p.m. ET.

The sled hockey gold medalists won Team of the Paralympics and took selfies on stage.

Alpine skiing medalists Mark Bathum (two silvers) and Stephanie Jallen (two bronzes) were named Male and Female Athletes of the Paralympics.

Jallen also won Moment of the Paralympics for taking a medal in her Paralympic debut.

Remembering the 2000 U.S. Olympic Baseball Team

Teri McKeever fired by Cal as women’s swimming coach after investigation

Teri McKeever
Getty
0 Comments

Teri McKeever, the first woman to serve as a U.S. Olympic swimming head coach, was fired by the University of California at Berkeley after an investigation into alleged verbal and emotional abuse of swimmers that she denied.

McKeever was put on paid administrative leave from her job as head women’s swimming coach in May after an Orange County Register report that 20 current or former Cal swimmers said McKeever verbally and emotionally bullied her swimmers.

Cal athletics director Jim Knowlton wrote in a letter to the Cal team and staff that a resulting independent law firm report detailed “verbally abusive conduct that is antithetical to our most important values.”

“I strongly believe this is in the best interests of our student-athletes, our swimming program and Cal Athletics as a whole,” Knowlton said of McKeever’s firing in a press release. “The report details numerous violations of university policies that prohibit race, national origin and disability discrimination.”

The Orange County Register first published what it says is the full independent report here.

“I deny and unequivocally refute all conclusions that I abused or bullied any athlete and deny any suggestion I discriminated against any athlete on the basis of race, disability or sexual orientation,” McKeever said in a statement Tuesday confirming her firing and expressing disappointment in how the investigation was conducted. “While I am disappointed in the way my CAL Career will conclude, I wish to thank and celebrate the many student-athletes and staff that made my time in Berkeley a true blessing and gift.”

McKeever’s lawyer wrote that McKeever “will be filing suit to expose the manner in which gender has affected not only the evaluation of her coaching but harmed and continues to harm both female and male athletes.”

McKeever led Cal women’s swimming and diving for nearly 30 years, winning four NCAA team titles and coaching Olympic champions including Missy FranklinNatalie Coughlin and Dana Vollmer.

In 2004, she became the first woman to be on a U.S. Olympic swim team coaching staff, as an assistant. In 2012, she became the first woman to be head coach of a U.S. Olympic swim team. She was an assistant again for the Tokyo Games.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Diana Taurasi returns to U.S. national basketball team

Diana Taurasi
Getty
0 Comments

Diana Taurasi is set to return to the U.S. national basketball team next week for the first time since the Tokyo Olympics, signaling a possible bid for a record-breaking sixth Olympic appearance in 2024 at age 42.

Taurasi is on the 15-player roster for next week’s training camp in Minnesota announced Tuesday.

Brittney Griner is not on the list but is expected to return to competitive basketball later this year with her WNBA team, the Phoenix Mercury (also Taurasi’s longtime team, though she is currently a free agent), after being detained in Russia for 10 months in 2022.

Taurasi said as far back as the 2016 Rio Games that her Olympic career was likely over, but returned to the national team after Dawn Staley succeeded Geno Auriemma as head coach in 2017.

In Tokyo, Taurasi and longtime backcourt partner Sue Bird became the first basketball players to win five Olympic gold medals. Bird has since retired.

After beating Japan in the final, Taurasi said “see you in Paris,” smiling, as she left an NBC interview. That’s now looking less like a joke and more like a prediction.

Minnesota Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve succeeded Staley as head coach last year. In early fall, she guided the U.S. to arguably the best FIBA World Cup performance ever, despite not having stalwarts Bird, Griner, Tina Charles and Sylvia Fowles.

Taurasi was not in contention for the team after suffering a WNBA season-ending quad injury in the summer. Taurasi, who is 38-0 in Olympic games and started every game at the last four Olympics, wasn’t on a U.S. team for an Olympics or worlds for the first time since 2002.

Next year, Taurasi can become the oldest Olympic basketball player in history and the first to play in six Games, according to Olympedia.org. Spain’s Rudy Fernandez could also play in a sixth Olympics in 2024.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!