Paralympians honored for March achievements
Fresh on the heels of the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games, the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) announced Paralympic alpine skier Alana Nichols and sled hockey player Steve Cash as its March Athletes of the Month, while the Paralympic Sled Hockey Team was awarded Team of the Month honors.
Nichols (Park City, Utah) enjoyed a successful March throughout the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games in Vancouver, winning four medals overall. With a gold medal in the sitting division of giant slalom on March 16, Nichols became the first U.S. female Paralympian to claim gold in both the Paralympic Summer and Winter Games. In 2008, Nichols helped lead her team to a gold medal in wheelchair basketball at the Paralympic Games in Beijing. In Vancouver, she again took the gold in the downhill and followed it up with silver in the super G and a bronze in the super combined.
Cash (Overland, Mo.) recorded four straight shutouts and 33 saves at the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games in Team USA's quest for their second gold medal, including making five saves and stopping a penalty shot in USA's 2-0 gold medal win over Japan on March 20. His performance helped Team USA become the first team in Paralympic sled hockey tournament history to not allow a single goal throughout the tournament. Cash played in 210 minutes, and was named top goaltender by the tournament's directorate.
The U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey Team posted a 5-0 overall record, and did not allow a single goal, winning the gold medal at the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games. This gold medal makes Team USA the first-ever team to claim a second Paralympic Winter Games sled hockey gold medal, winning their first at the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City, Utah. This win also marked the fourth straight International Paralympic Committee sanctioned title for Team USA.
Each National Governing Body may nominate up to but no more than one female, one male and one team per discipline. The winners are then voted on from that pool of nominees.
2010 Olympic gold medalist Lindsey Vonn (Park City, Utah) took second place in the Female Athlete of the Month voting after she closed the World Cup season March 12 in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany with discipline titles for downhill, super G and super combined to become the first American to win three discipline titles in a single season. However, it was her stunning win at the season's final super G that clinched not only her third consecutive World Cup overall title, but also her 11th World Cup win of the season, beating her own American Record of nine set in 2009. The victory, her career 33rd , bumped her one past Bode Miller (Franconia, N.H.) for the most World Cup wins of any American.
Coming in third place was the 2008 World Indoor 60m hurdles champion Lolo Jones (Baton Rouge, La.). Jones made history on March 13 at the 2010 IAAF World Indoor Championships, becoming the first woman ever to claim back-to-back titles in the 60m hurdles and setting an American Record in the process. Jones stormed down the track and over the hurdles, crossing the finish line in a record 7.72.
Coming in second place in the Male Athlete of the Month voting was University of Oregon senior Ashton Eaton (Eugene, Ore.) when he set a World Record on his way to winning the second-consecutive heptathlon NCAA title Saturday, March 13. At the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Ark., Eaton beat 1996 Olympic gold medalist Dan O'Brien's World Record when he scored 6,499 points over two days.
Taking third was Paralympic biathlete Andy Soule (Pearland, Texas). On the opening day of the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games, Soule came back from fifth place to win a bronze medal in the 2.4 km biathlon pursuit. This was not only the first U.S. medal of the Games, but also the first-ever medal for the U.S. Paralympic biathlon team. In the 12.5 km biathlon event later in the Games, Andy shot perfectly. Hitting all 20 of his targets and finishing fourth.
Placing second in the team voting was the USA Women's Track and Field 4x400m Relay Team. Leading wire-to-wire, Team USA won their first-ever gold in the women's 4x400m relay at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in American Record fashion, ending Russia's dominating eight-win streak. Running her fourth 400m in three days, World Indoor champion Debbie Dunn (Norfolk, Va.) ran the lead-off leg before handing off to Deedee Trotter (Knoxville, Tenn.). Natasha Hastings (Los Angeles, Calif.) had third-leg duty before handing off to Allyson Felix (Santa Clarita, Calif.). USA held off Russia, closing in a blistering 3:27.34.
Coming in third place was the two-time U.S. Ice Dancing champions Meryl Davis (West Bloomfield, Mich.) and Charlie White (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.). The duo brought home the silver medal from the 2010 World Figure Skating Championships in Torino, Italy. The team, fresh off their silver medal win at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, had another near-flawless outing in the free skate, performing to music from Phantom of the Opera. They bested training mates and 2010 Olympic champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada by 0.60 in the technical score en route to gaining a personal best 100.49 points in the free skate.
- Alana Nichols, Paralympic Alpine Skiing
- Lindsey Vonn, Alpine Skiing
- Lolo Jones, Track and Field
- Steve Cash, Paralympic Sled Hockey
- Ashton Eaton, Track and Field
- Andy Soule, Paralympic Biathlon
- U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey Team
- USA Women's Track and Field 4x400m Relay Team
- Meryl Davis and Charlie White, Ice Dancing