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Team USA Women Shine At Women’s Sports Foundation

By Amy Rosewater | Oct. 16, 2014, 5:02 p.m. (ET)

Snowboarder Amy Purdy attends the Women’s Sports Foundation'’s 35th Annual Salute to Women in Sports at Cipriani Wall Street on Oct. 15, 2014 in New York City. 

NEW YORK -- One Olympic champion and perhaps another one in the making came up big again at the Women’s Sports Foundation’s Annual Salute to Women in Sports.

Meryl Davis, who along with Charlie White won Team USA’s first gold medal in Olympic ice dancing competition in Sochi, Russia, was named the Sportswoman of the Year in team sports, while Simone Biles, who was virtually untouchable winning four gold medals and a silver at the recent 2014 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships, was the winner in individual sports.

And they were just a couple of the accomplished women in the Cipriani ballroom on Wall Street Wednesday night.

Among those who attended the event, which marked the 40th anniversary of the Women’s Sports Foundation, were Olympic champions Sarah Hughes, Angela Ruggiero, Julie Foudy and Jessica Mendoza.

Here were a few snapshots from an evening which featured many top Team USA Olympians and Paralympians.

Luger Erin Hamlin attends the 35th Annual Salute to Women in Sports at Ciprani Wall Street on Oct. 15, 2014 in New York City.

SLIDING ON – Erin Hamlin, who became Team USA’s first luge athlete to win an Olympic medal in singles competition when she took home a bronze from Sochi, is gearing up for another season. She just returned from a low-key meet, which she won, in Lillehammer. “The ‘A’ team wasn’t there,” Hamlin said, referring to her top German competitors. “But it was nice to go into it, not going as fast as I possibly could, and win.” Before competing in Sochi, Hamlin thought the 2014 Winter Games would be her last. “I’m not old, per se,” said Hamlin, 27, “but I’m older. But I found I am taking it all in. I’ve done well, and I’ve done terrible, so now I am just doing it for me and having fun. If I have that mindset, maybe I will go faster.”

THIRD SPORT’S THE CHARM – Alana Nichols a Paralympian in wheelchair basketball and alpine skiing, is now considering a turn in paracanoe, a sport that will debut at the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Paralympic Games. Nichols said she decided to take a year off from skiing and began surfing. After surfing a bit in Hawaii, where she sat on a surfboard paddling, she thought about trying out paracanoe. Should she follow this latest athletic road, her first competition would be in April. “Surfing is my passion,” Nichols said. “Other sports are a labor of love.”

ANOTHER SHOT? – Two-time Olympic medalist Michelle Kwan spent plenty of time on the campaign trail in support of her husband Clay Pell, who was trying to become governor of Rhode Island. Pell lost in the Democratic primary but Kwan didn’t rule out him trying again. “That’s up to him,” she said. Kwan said she enjoyed the life on the campaign trail. “Along the way, you meet incredible people, and I’m a people person. For him, it was about finding solutions to problems.”

As for her own future, Kwan was asked if she would ever take a turn on “Dancing with the Stars.” Figure skaters have done quite well on the show with Olympic gold medalists Kristi Yamaguchi and Meryl Davis claiming the mirror ball and Evan Lysacek finishing runner-up. Charlie White also went deep into the TV competition. Kwan said she considered it in the past but put it off because she was concentrating on school. She was asked to do it twice, once when she was in college and again in grad school. She loved watching Davis on the show, saying, "When I watched her, I just melted." Would Kwan give the dance floor a whirl? "It would be such a different experience because here you are as an Olympian and you're very serious. You have to be serious here, too, but as a performer." As a skater, Kwan was known for her artistry but said, "I always see myself as an athlete first and foremost." 

Rower Mary Whipple attends the 35th Annual Salute to Women in Sports event at Ciprani Wall Street on Oct. 15, 2014 in New York City.

AMY PURDY’S FAIRYTALE CONTINUES – Speaking of “Dancing with the Stars,” Paralympian-turned-ballroom dancer Amy Purdy was at the Women’s Sports Foundation event. Purdy said her life has become quite a fairytale this year. She began by claiming a bronze medal in snowboarding in Sochi, then had a whirlwind runner-up turn on “Dancing with the Stars,” and now is touring with Oprah Winfrey’s “Oprah’s The Life You Want Weekend.” “I know, it’s crazy, right?” Purdy said. “Even throughout ‘Dancing with the Stars’ I would pinch myself and ask, ‘Is this real?’”

BACK TO BASICS – Marissa Castelli, who along with former pairs skating partner, Simon Shnapir, helped Team USA earn a bronze medal in the team skating competition in Sochi, is now training with a new partner, Mervin Tran. Castelli, who won two national pairs titles with Shnapir, has to compete in sectionals this year to qualify for the 2015 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in January. Castelli last skated in sectionals in 2010. She and Tran are set to compete Nov. 18-22 in Wake Forest, North Carolina. Castelli will be the only member of the 2014 U.S. Olympic Figure Skating Team who plans on competing at nationals who has to go through the qualifying process. But Castelli, who said she is landing throw triple flips in practices, said, “I’m definitely excited to show people what I’m capable of. This is a different side of me.”

QUOTABLE – Mary Whipple, who has collected two gold medals and a silver in three trips to the Olympic Games, donned her rowing medal collection as her jewelry to the black-tie Women’s Sports Foundation event. As Whipple said, “The ladies don’t come out very often.”

Amy Rosewater is a freelance writer and editor for TeamUSA.org. She has covered five Olympic Games and her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post and USA Today. 

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