For Immediate Release March 18, 2008 Skier Lindsey Vonn, Adam Nelson of Track and Field and the Bobsled/Skeleton World Championship Team Selected by USOC as February's Athletes and Team of the Month COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.-Today, the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) announced that the honors for Athlete and Team of the Month for February were awarded to Lindsey Vonn of U.S. Skiing, Adam Nelson of USA Track and Field and the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton World Championship Team. Vonn (Vail, Colo.) could not have asked for a better February. Friday, Feb. 22, Vonn over came flat light and clinched the Audi FIS World Cup downhill title when she claimed the silver medal on the 2010 Olympic downhill course in Whistler, Canada. Vonn finished one-hundredth of a second behind Switzerland's Nadia Styger. No American has won the downhill title since Vonn's childhood idol and one-time teammate Picabo Street (Triumph, Idaho) in 1995 and 1996. Street was also 23. With her second-place finish, Vonn also reclaimed the lead in the overall World Cup standings over the defending champion Nicole Hosp of Austria. Nelson (Charlottesville, Va.) launched a world-leading throw of 22.40 meters/73 ft. 6 in. to win the men's shotput at the 2008 Tyson Invitational Feb. 15 in Fayetteville, Ark. That distance is the third-best performance of all time. For his efforts, the four-time World Outdoor Championships medalist and two-time Olympic silver medalist was the winner of the USATF Indoor Men's Visa Championship Series, netting him the men's Visa Championship title and a $25,000 paycheck. The U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton World Championships Team claimed the bronze medal in the team competition in Altenberg, Germany on Feb. 18. The team with the lowest total time over four heats in four disciplines was crowned World Champion. Each nation selects an athlete to slide in men's skeleton, women's bobsled, women's skeleton and men's bobsled for a four-run combined time. Zach Lund (Salt Lake City, Utah) was the first athlete to slide for the U.S., competing in the men's skeleton heat. After only two training runs on the tricky 17-curve course, Lund burst off the block with a start time of 5.39 seconds for a run of 59.62 seconds. Sliding the fastest run of the heat, Lund gave the U.S. team a 0.12 second lead. Erin Pac (Farmington, Conn.) teamed with veteran Emily Azevedo (Chico, Calif.) for the women's bobsled heat. The duo pushed a start time of 6.04 seconds and maintained the third fastest speed until a small mistake in the corner Kreisel. Pac made a superb driving correction, navigating the sled to the finish in 1:00.07 seconds. World Cup Champion Katie Uhlaender (Breckenridge, Colo.) competed in the women's skeleton heat, pushing a 5.94 for a run of 1:02.22. Steven Holcomb (Park City, Utah) and Curt Tomasevicz (Shelby, Neb.) teamed together for their final two-man bobsled race run of the season, pushing a time of 5.53 for a run of 57.16. The women's honors featured a tight point race for second-place between USA Swimming's Natalie Coughlin (Berkley, Calif.) and USA Luge's Katie Uhlaender (Breckenridge, Colo.) as a mere one point separated them in the voting. Coughlin broke her own world record in the 100m backstroke prelims with a time of 59.21 at the Missouri Grand Prix, Feb. 17. Her previous record in the event was 59.44. Coughlin is the first women in swimming history to break the legendary one minute barrier in that event. Coughlin did not compete in the final of the event and therefore did not place. However, she took home silver in the 200m freestyle, bronze in the 50m freestyle and bronze in the 100m freestyle. Uhlaender secured her second consecutive overall World Cup title this season after winning bronze in the World Cup finale in Winterberg, Germany on Feb. 8. She claimed the 2008 World Cup trophy by 71 points after winning six medals this season, four of them gold. Previously, she won the Koenigssee, Germany World Cup Feb 2. Uhlaender capped the season with a World Championship bronze medal in the team competition on Feb. 18 and a silver medal in the women's skeleton World Championships in Altenberg, Germany on Feb. 23. Justin Ruiz (Colorado Springs, Colo.) earned second place in the men's voting for winning three gold medals in the month of February. Ruiz won his match during the Chicago Cup, an international dual meet in Evanston, Ill., Feb. 5, when he defeated Georgi Zlatanski of Bulgaria, 3-2, 6-0. Ruiz then claimed the gold medal at the Dave Schultz Memorial International in Colorado Springs, Colo., Feb. 8, when he defeated Adam Wheeler (Lancaster, Calif.) in the finals, 3-0, 1-1, 3-0. Other victories in the tournament were over Katsuya Kitamura of Japan, Timoncini Diagoro of Italy and Andrzej Deberney of Poland. Finally, Ruiz won a gold medal at the Pan American Championships, held in Colorado Springs, Colo., Feb. 29. With his victory, he qualified the United States to compete at his weight class (96 kg) at the 2008 Olympic Games. He defeated Yosvani Goicochea of Cuba in the championship bout, 1-2, 3-2, 4-1. Other victories were over Scott Seeley of Canada, William Serrano of El Salvador and Luiz Fernandez of Brazil. Third place for the male Athlete of the Month went to Zach Lund (Salt Lake City, Utah) of U.S. Skeleton who finished the 2007-2008 season ranked third in overall World Cup points. Lund finished ninth in the World Cup finale in Winterberg, Germany on Feb. 8 then helped the U.S. win a World Championship bronze medal in the team competition on Feb 18. Lund crossed the finish line in sixth position at the World Championship in Altenberg, Germany on Feb. 22 to finish off the season. Lund completed the season with four medals, including two gold, one silver and a bronze. Coming in second in the team voting was, USA Diving who finished second overall as a team, behind powerhouse China, in Beijing at the 16th FINA Diving World Cup. The competition was considered to the biggest international meet this year aside from the Olympic Games. Kelci Bryant (Indianapolis, Ind.) and Arial Rittenhouse (Palos Verdes, Calif.) won bronze on the women's synchronized 3m to earn the U.S. its first ever Olympic berth in that event while David Boudia (Noblesville, Ind.) won bronze on the 10m platform. The team's success at the World Cup earned the U.S. its maximum 12 spots for the 2008 Olympic Games. In addition to the two bronze medals, the U.S. had two fourth-place finishes, two sixth-place finishes, two eighth-place finishes and two 12th place finishes to help boost USA Diving to its second-place finish. Voting for the team award was so close, there was a tie for third place between teams representing USA Luge and U.S. Speedskating. Erin Hamlin (Remsen, N.Y.), Julia Clukey (Augusta, Me.), Tony Benshoof (White Bear Lake, Minn.), and the doubles team of Christian Niccum (Woodinville, Wash.) and Dan Joye (Carmel, N.Y.) combined to lead USA Luge to the 2008 overall World Cup Team relay silver medal. In four races, the five athletes combined to win one gold and one bronze medal en route to the overall second-place standing. The Ladies 3000m Relay team, which consisted of Katherine Reutter (Champaign, Ill.), Allison Baver (Sinking Springs, Pa.), Kimberly Derrick (Memphis, Tenn.) and Carly Wilson (Jefferson City, Mo.) skated to a bronze-medal finish at the Samsung ISU World Cup in Salt Lake City, Utah, against powerhouse teams, Korea, China and Canada. Team USA not only earned the World Cup Bronze, but set a new national record of 4:14.866. Results: Men 1. Adam Nelson, Track and Field 2. Justin Ruiz, Wrestling 3. Zach Lund, Skeleton Women 1. Lindsey Vonn, Skiing 2. Natalie Coughlin, Swimming 3. Katie Uhlaender, Skeleton Team 1. U.S. Bobsled/Skeleton World Championship Team 2. USA Diving World Cup Team 3. USA Luge World Cup Team TIE 3. U.S. Speedskating Ladies World Cup Relay Team For more information, please contact the USOC Communications Division at (719) 866-4529.
Skier Lindsey Vonn, Adam Nelson of Track and Field and the Bobsled/Skeleton World Championship Team Selected by USOC as February's Athletes and Team of the Month
March 18, 2008, 1 a.m. (ET)