COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The United States Olympic Committee today announced the 26 finalists for the 2017 Team USA Awards presented by Dow, Best of the Year, which recognize the outstanding achievements of Team USA athletes year-round. Fans are invited to vote for their favorite athletes and teams at TeamUSA.org/Awards through midnight Monday, Oct. 30. The finalists include the reigning 2017 FINA World Championship winning USA Water Polo Women's National Team!
The Team USA Awards honor athletes and teams of the year in six categories:
• Female Olympic Athlete of the Year, presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods
• Male Olympic Athlete of the Year
• Olympic Team of the Year, presented by Dow
• Female Paralympic Athlete of the Year
• Male Paralympic Athlete of the Year
• Paralympic Team of the Year, presented by Dow
Athletes and teams considered for Best of the Year were finalists for Best of the Month honors, dating back to the fall of 2016 and coinciding with the sport calendar. A USOC nominating committee then selected the top-five finalists in the individual categories and top three in the team categories to advance to the voting round.
The six award winners will be announced during the 2017 Team USA Awards presented by Dow, Best of the Year, to be held Nov. 29 at Royce Hall in Los Angeles. NBC will provide coverage of the awards show from 3-4 p.m. ET on Dec. 23.
The year-end celebration will also recognize the Jesse Owens Olympic Spirit Award – which recognizes an individual who has served as a powerful force for good in society, inspiring others by contributing to a better world, uniting people or leading a cause – and the Building Dreams Award, presented by USG – which honors an individual, group or community that has gone above and beyond in its support of Team USA.
Additionally, the awards gala will recognize national Olympic and Paralympic coaches of the year. National Governing Bodies select their nominees as part of the USOC’s annual Coach of the Year Recognition Program, and winners are determined by a USOC selection panel of coaching and sport performance professionals.
In addition to Dow, the presenting sponsor, the Team USA Awards are supported by associate sponsors DICK’S Sporting Goods and USG.
The USOC also worked with Deloitte to redesign an enhanced voting platform at TeamUSA.org/Awards for more fan engagement than ever before. Deloitte revamped the existing website, adding a clean mobile platform, real-time rankings, and increased opportunities for year-round engagement, even during non-Olympic and Paralympic Games years.
The 2017 Best of the Year finalists include:
Olympic Team of the Year, presented by Dow
Elana Meyers Taylor (Douglasville, Georgia) and Kehri Jones (Killeen, Texas), Bobsled Claimed three world cup medals – including two golds and one silver – while leading Team USA to its first-ever world championship double podium in women’s bobsled by winning gold and setting a track start record of 5.12 seconds in Konigssee, Germany – a finish that helped propel driver Meyers Taylor to a No. 1 world ranking in the IBSF’s final season standings.
U.S. Women’s National Team, Ice Hockey Went undefeated in five games to claim its fourth consecutive IIHF Women’s World Championship title – and first on home ice – marking its second triumph over Canada on the season having also defeated its northern rival to win its second consecutive – and seventh overall – Four Nations Cup title.
U.S. Women’s World Championship Team, Water Polo Went undefeated (6-0) to win its second straight – and fifth overall – FINA World Championship title, extending its reign over every major international championship in the sport and becoming the first-ever women’s water polo team to win a world title the year after capturing the Olympic gold medal.
Female Olympic Athlete of the Year, presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods
Heather Bergsma (High Point, North Carolina), Long Track Speedskating Won 12 world cup medals – including nine golds – to claim her third Grand World Cup crown and added four world championship medals, becoming the first speedskater – male or female – to claim world titles in the 500- (from 2015), 1,000- and 1,500-meter events and joining Bonnie Blair as the only women ever to sweep the trifecta of season titles at all three distances in their careers.
Lindsey Jacobellis (Stratton Mountain, Vermont), Snowboarding Extended her reign as the most decorated snowboarder in any single event by winning an unprecedented fifth straight snowboardcross world title in as many starts, while also tallying five world cup podium finishes to improve her career total to 28 wins and 48 podium appearances (in 80 starts) – more than any other snowboardcross racer in history.
Katie Ledecky (Bethesda, Maryland), Swimming Won six medals – including five golds – at the 2017 FINA World Championships, claiming three-peats in three individual events and setting the women’s record for most career world championship gold medals with 14 overall.
Helen Maroulis (Rocky Point, Maryland), Wrestling Won her third straight world or Olympic title by claiming the women’s 58 kg. gold medal at the 2017 World Wrestling Championships, dominating all five of her matches by technical fall and outscoring her opponents by a combined 52-0 mark.
Mikaela Shiffrin (Eagle-Vail, Colorado), Alpine Skiing Made history by becoming the first female skier in 78 years to win three straight world slalom titles; the first American woman to own three world championship gold medals; and only the fifth U.S. skier – male or female – to win an overall FIS World Cup title with 14 world cup podium finishes on the year, while also claiming her fourth world cup slalom title, her first world championship medal in giant slalom (silver) and finishing the season ranked second overall in the giant slalom standings.
Male Olympic Athlete of the Year
Lowell Bailey (Lake Placid, New York), Biathlon Became the first-ever American biathlete – male or female – to win a world title, posting a perfect 20-for-20 in shooting to claim the men's 20-kilometer gold medal, while also earning eight top-10 world cup finishes to complete the season as the top-ranked American at No. 8 in the overall standings.
Caeleb Dressel (Green Cove Springs, Florida), Swimming Won seven gold medals to lead all competitors at the 2017 FINA World Championships, matching Michael Phelps’ record from 2007 and making history as the first-ever swimmer to win three world titles on a single day (July 29) and the first American male since 2011 to win three individual events at the same world championships.
Sam Kendricks (Oxford, Mississippi), Track and Field Went undefeated throughout the 2017 season, becoming the first American male pole vaulter in 10 years to win an IAAF World Championship gold medal and upsetting seven-time reigning Diamond League trophy winner and world-record holder Renaud Lavillenie of France to take the 2017 Diamond League title, as well as recording seven of the year's top 13 outdoor vaults.
Kyle Snyder (Woodbine, Maryland), Freestyle Wrestling In a bout that was dubbed “The Match of the Century,” defeated Olympic and two-time world champion Abdulrashid Sadulaev of Russia, 6-5, to win the 97 kg. gold medal – his third straight world or Olympic title – and help Team USA claim its first men’s freestyle wrestling world team title in 22 years at the 2017 World Wrestling Championships.
McRae Williams (Park City, Utah), Freestyle Skiing Competing at his first FIS Freestyle Ski World Championships, earned gold with 93.80 points to cap a banner season that saw him also claim his first X Games medal in three years and the FIS slopestyle crystal globe with two world cup podium finishes.
Female Paralympic Athlete of the Year
Brenna Huckaby (Baton Rouge, Louisiana), Para Snowboarding Made history by winning two world titles in banked slalom and snowboardcross at the 2017 World Para Snowboard Championships, capping a season that also saw her top the podium in five of six world cup races to finish second overall in the women’s SB-LL1 class season standings.
Oksana Masters (Louisville, Kentucky), Para Nordic Skiing Won an unprecedented four gold medals at the World Para Nordic Skiing Championships, becoming the first-ever American woman to win a world title in Para Nordic skiing, while adding 14 world cup medals in 14 starts to secure the No. 1 world ranking in women’s sitting cross-country and No. 3 world ranking in biathlon.
Tatyana McFadden (Champaign, Illinois), Para Track and Field Became the most decorated wheelchair marathon champion in history in claiming her fourth consecutive grand slam title with wins in Chicago and New York, and swept gold medals in all four of her events – including the T54 200-, 400-, 800- and 1,500-meter – to tie for the most medals of any athlete at the 2017 World Para Athletics Championships in London.
Shawn Morelli (Meadville, Pennsylvania), Para-cycling Won two gold medals, defending her titles in the C4 time trial and road race at the 2017 UCI Para-cycling Road World Championships, while adding two gold medals in the C4 500-meter time trial and 4-kilometer individual pursuit at the track world championships to complete the year ranked first and third overall in the C-4 road and track world rankings.
Grace Norman (Jamestown, Ohio), Paratriathlon Extended her winning streak in international competition dating back to March 2016 with three wins on the year and defended her world title at the ITU Paratriathlon World Championships, using an 18:13 run split to edge runner-up Lauren Steadman of Great Britain by four seconds.
Male Paralympic Athlete of the Year
Mikey Brannigan (East Northport, New York), Para Track and Field Competing against able-bodied runners, won the men’s 1,500-meter at the Pomona-Pitzer Invitational and improved his own world record in the 5,000 with a time of 14:09.51 at the Mt. SAC Relays before capping the season with three world championships medals – including two golds – in the 800, 1,500 and 5,000 to complete the year ranked No. 1 in the men’s T20 classification at all three distances.
Isaac Jean-Paul (Chicago, Illinois), Para Track and Field In his international debut, won gold and bronze medals at the World Para Athletics Championships in London, improving his own world record three times in claiming the men’s T13 high jump title with a leap of 2.17 meters.
Andrew Kurka (Palmer, Alaska), Para Alpine Skiing Earned six medals throughout the 2016-17 world cup circuit, including three golds – to claim his first career world cup globes in downhill and super-G, while adding three medals – one gold, one silver and one bronze – at the 2017 World Para Alpine Skiing Championships.
Mike Minor (Waymart, Pennsylvania), Para Snowboarding In his world championship debut, captured gold (snowboardcross) and silver (banked slalom) medals, while also winning eight gold medals – and nine overall – during the 2016-17 world cup season to claim the overall, banked slalom and snowboardcross world cup titles in the men’s SB-UL class.
Chris Murphy (Rancho Cucamonga, California), Para-cycling Won three medals – including two golds – at the 2017 UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships in Los Angeles, helping the U.S. claim its first-ever world title in team sprint, and finished the season ranked second in the C5 classification of the UCI Para-cycling track rankings.
Paralympic Team of the Year, presented by Dow
U.S. Team Sprint, Para-cycling The trio of Jason Kimball, Joe Berenyi and Chris Murphy broke Team USA’s fourth-place streak in the C1-5 750-meter mixed team sprint at the 2017 UCI Para-Cycling Track World Championships, winning Team USA’s first-ever international title in team sprint and helping the U.S. top the overall and gold-medal charts for the first time in program history at a world championship.
U.S. Mixed Four, Para-rowing The U.S. para-rowing PR3 mixed four team of Jennifer Sichel, Jaclyn Smith, Zachary Burns, Danielle Hansen and Mike Varro earned the silver medal at the World Rowing Championships, marking Team USA’s fourth-straight runner-up finish in the event at a world championship or Paralympic Games.
U.S. National Team, Sled Hockey Claimed an unprecedented third straight World Sled Hockey Challenge title with a 5-2 victory over Canada and took silver at the 2017 World Para Ice Hockey Championship in Gangneung, South Korea, where it advanced to its fifth straight gold-medal game with a perfect 6-0 mark in preliminary play.
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