Sarah Hendrickson won the women’s Utah Pro/Olympian of the Year Award at the annual Utah State of Sport Awards at the Energy Solutions Arena in downtown Salt Lake City. (Photo: Tom Kelly/USSA)
SALT LAKE CITY – Utah’s growing home base for Olympians was on display Tuesday as over 1,200 sport leaders from across the state joined Governor Gary Herbert for his annual Utah State of Sport Awards at the Energy Solutions Arena in downtown Salt Lake City. Homegrown Olympic champions from bobsledder Steve Holcomb to giant slalom champion Ted Ligety and snowboarder Sage Kotsenburg talked about their growing up around the 2002 Olympic venues, as did ski jumper Sarah Hendrickson who walked away with the women’s Utah Pro/Olympian of the Year Award. Over 40 Utah skiers and snowboarders were on the 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Teams – including 23 from USSA partner Westminster College alone – with two dozen Olympic athletes honored by Governor Herbert to open the evening.
Over two dozen Olympic and Paralympic athletes with ties to Utah were honored by Utah Governor Gary Herbert Tuesday at the annual Utah State of Sport Awards in front of 1,200 sport leaders and guests at Energy Solutions Arena in Salt Lake City.
Ski jumper Sarah Hendrickson, who won the World Championship last season, was honored as female 2013 Pro/Olympian of the Year. It was the second straight year of a similar honor for Hendrickson.
Among those honored were Utah natives and Sochi Olympic medalists Ted Ligety (giant slalom gold), Sage Kotsenburg (slopestyle snowboarding gold), Steve Holcomb (bobsled double bronze) and Keith Gabel (Paralympic snowboardcross bronze).
A host of others who now make Utah their training base were also honored, including medalists Maddie Bowman (halfpipe skiing gold) and Kaitlyn Farrington (halfpipe snowboarding gold).
Utah won the U.S. Olympic bid rights in 1989 on a platform to provide legacy venues and programs for youth. It has created an atmosphere much like that of the 1932 and 1980 Olympic community of Lake Placid where there is strong use of Olympic facilities combined with grassroots sport clubs to provide opportunities for youth to participate in sport.
QUOTES Tiger Shaw, President and CEO, U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association The State of Utah was forward thinking many years ago in seeing the value of Olympic legacy. We’re seeing the results of that now as homegrown Utah athletes who were motivated by the 2002 Games are achieving Olympic success. We’re appreciative for the efforts of Governor Herbert, the Utah Sports Commission, the Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation and the many sport-based club programs in Utah for providing great opportunities for athletes here in Utah.
Sarah Hendrickson Ultimately, I watched the 2002 Olympics at the age of 7 and watched the men fly through the air in the ski jumping event and decided that was what I wanted to try. The Utah Olympic Park maintained the ski jumps and kept the legacy alive and kept the clubs going so I was able to continue training. The U.S. Ski Team being based in Park City only helped that. It was a huge privilege growing up here and it definitely got me to where I am today.
Sage Kotsenburg Park City has one of the top rated slopestyle courses in the world. Having that at my fingertips since I was 10 years old has been awesome. Having all these mountains around here has been so key for me to hone my skills. I don't think I coudl've done it without being here in Utah. It's safe to say that these mountains have something to them!
Ted Ligety I was really lucky to be able to grow up in Park City. Growing up, there was always a World Cup right at the beginning of the ski season so I was able to see my heroes every year. After that ended, I was able to train on a World Cup quality hill and that was huge for us. The facilities here were awesome. Having the Olympics, I was able to see that going on and forerun the slalom. I think that was really huge to see that level of an event and be on that course at the same time as some of my heroes. That was a huge motivator for me.