As news of this year’s ESPYS nominations began to circulate Tuesday, Olympic and Paralympic athletes went to Twitter to express their glee about being included.
“I got nominated for an #ESPY!!!! WOW! I am freaking out over here!” tweeted Olympic snowboard slopestyle gold medalist Sage Kotsenburg.
“Apparently the ESPYs let out their list today … and apparently, I’m on it!” wrote gold-medal Olympic skier Mikaela Shiffrin. “(woohoo!)”
And Tatyana McFadden, who earned a silver medal in her first Paralympic Winter Games after previously winning 10 medals in the summer edition of the Paralympic Games, was almost at a loss for words, posting: “Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh ahhhhhhhh I’ve been nominated for the @ESPYS!!!!!”
All told, more than 20 U.S. athletes who participated in the Sochi 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games received nominations this year, with four – Shiffrin, snowboarder Jamie Anderson and freestyle skiers Maddie Bowman and David Wise – each earning two nominations. Several other athletes and coaches who have participated in previous Olympic and Paralympic Games also received ESPYS nominations this year.
The annual ESPYS awards ceremony, which honors outstanding achievements in sports, is scheduled for July 16 at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles. It will be televised at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN.
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Shiffrin, who at age 18 became the youngest Olympic slalom champion, was nominated for Best Female Athlete and Best Female Olympian. Anderson, Olympic gold medalist in slopestyle, was nominated for Best Female U.S. Olympic Athlete and Best Female Action Sports Athlete. Bowman and Wise each won in the debut of halfpipe skiing at the Sochi Winter Games and were nominated in the Best Action Sports Athlete and Best U.S. Olympic Athlete categories.
For McFadden, this is her fourth ESPYS nomination, and her reaction on Twitter reflected her joy and surprise at being honored again.
“Just to be recognized with other top athletes of the world is amazing,” she said. “So that was my first reaction when my mom called me this morning. It was very cool.”
McFadden competed in Sochi and earned a silver medal in the 1-kilometer sit-ski sprint. The next month, McFadden competed as a wheelchair racer and defended her title at the Boston Marathon. Winning Boston – in front of a huge crowd a year after the bombings – gave her “chills,” and the success at Sochi was unexpected.
Now, to get a chance to get back to the ESPYS – and perhaps win for the first time – is exciting, she said. After looking at the others nominated, however, she knows every athlete is deserving, and walking away with an award will be difficult.
The best part is getting to take part in an event she describes as, “like the Oscars but for athletes.”
“We get to mingle with some of the most successful people in the world,” she said. “It’s incredible to be among such greatness. And everyone’s dressed up and it’s hard to recognize who’s who because we don’t wear dresses or fancy things all the time.”
Other nominees who represented Team USA in the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi:
Best Female Action Sports Athlete: Snowboarder Kelly Clark, who earned the halfpipe bronze medal in Sochi while also winning her fourth straight World Snowboard Tour championship.
Best Male Athlete With a Disability: Alpine skier Mark Bathum, who earned silver medals in the super-G and super combined at the Paralympic Winter Games; Declan Farmer, a high-scoring, 16-year-old forward on the U.S. Paralympic champion sled hockey team; and Evan Strong (gold) and Mike Shea (silver), who led an American sweep (with Keith Gabel) in snowboardcross. Shea also won the first overall para-snowboard world cup season championship.
Best Female Athlete With a Disability: Oksana Masters, who earned silver and bronze medals in sit-ski cross-country in Sochi after previously capturing a bronze medal in rowing at the London Paralympic Games; and alpine sit-skier Laurie Stephens, who took bronze medals in the downhill and super-G.
Best Male U.S. Olympic Athlete: Skier Joss Christensen, gold medalist in slopestyle; alpine skier Ted Ligety, winner of the giant slalom; and ice dancer Charlie White, who won a gold medal with partner Meryl Davis.
Best Female U.S. Olympic Athlete: Ice dancer Davis; and snowboarder Kaitlyn Farrington, gold medalist in the halfpipe.
In addition to the winter athletes, there were several summer sport athletes who also were honored with nominations.
Raymond Martin was nominated for Best Male Athlete With a Disability, and hand cyclist Minda Dentler and para-cyclist Jamie Whitmore were nominated for Best Female Athlete With a Disability. Martin, a four-time Paralympic gold medalist, became the first man to win five gold medals at an IPC Athletics World Championships as he won the men’s T52 100-, 200-, 400-, 800- and 1,500-meter races at the 2013 edition of the championships in Lyon, France. Martin also swept the same five events at the U.S. Paralympics Track & Field National Championships.
Dentler, a paratriathlon national champion, became the first female hand cyclist to complete the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii. Dentler also won the hand cycle division of the New York City Marathon. Whitmore took first place in the time trial and pursuit events at the recent 2014 UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships, setting world records en route to both gold medals.
Maya Moore, a 2012 U.S. Olympic gold medalist basketball player who plays for the Minnesota Lynx of the WNBA, was nominated for Best Female Athlete, and Geno Auriemma, who coached the U.S. women’s basketball team to gold medals in Sydney and London, was nominated for Best Coach/Manager for his work at the University of Connecticut.
Two members of the U.S. men’s basketball team that won the gold medal in London in 2012, Kevin Durant and LeBron James, were nominated for Best NBA Player. Russell Westbrook, also a member of the 2012 team, was nominated for Best Comeback Athlete. Angel McCoughtry and Candace Parker, members of the U.S. Olympic women’s championship basketball team in 2012, were nominated with Moore for Best WNBA Player.
Serena Williams, who has won four Olympic gold medals in tennis, including the singles title in London two years ago, was nominated for Best Female Tennis Player.
Doug Williams covered three Olympic Games for two Southern California newspapers and was the Olympic editor for the San Diego Union-Tribune. He has written for TeamUSA.org since 2011 as a freelance contributor on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.