From left to right: Nathan Chen, the U.S. Women's World Cup Team, Simone Biles, Oksana Masters, U.S. National Sled Hockey Team and Ben Thompson
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee today announced the winners for the 2019 Team USA Awards presented by Dow, Best of the Year, recognizing the outstanding achievements of Team USA athletes, teams and coaches in eight categories:
- Female Olympic Athlete of the Year – Simone Biles, gymnastics
- Female Paralympic Athlete of the Year – Oksana Masters, Para Nordic skiing and Para-cycling
- Male Olympic Athlete of the Year – Nathan Chen, figure skating
- Male Paralympic Athlete of the Year – Ben Thompson, Para archery
- Olympic Team of the Year, presented by Dow – U.S. Women’s World Cup Team, soccer
- Paralympic Team of the Year, presented by Dow – U.S. National Team, sled hockey
- Olympic Coach of the Year – KiSik Lee, archery
- Paralympic Coach of the Year – Wesley Johnson, paratriathlon
The eight awards were presented during a live recording of the Team USA Awards presented by Dow, Best of the Year ceremony, held tonight at Universal Studios in Los Angeles. The awards show – which features Olympic wrestling champion Jordan Burroughs as host – will be televised from 2-3 p.m. ET Sunday, Dec. 22, on NBC.
The year-end celebration also recognized six-time Olympic champion Amy Van Dyken with the Jesse Owens Olympic Spirit Award – which recognizes an individual who has served as a powerful force for good in society, inspiring others by contributing to a better world, uniting people or leading a cause. Jesse Owens’ grandson, Stuart Rankin, was on hand to present the award in a moving tribute to the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Hall of Fame swimmer, who has dedicated herself to improving the lives of people with spinal cord injuries following her severe ATV accident in 2014. Through the Amy Van Dyken Foundation and Amy’s Army, her Wheels for Kids initiative raises money to provide wheelchairs for children in need, allowing them better movement and freedom.
In addition, the event featured special medal reallocation ceremonies for the Team USA two-man and four-man bobsled teams from the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014. Bobsledders Chris Fogt (four-man), Steve Langton (two-man and four-man), Curt Tomasevicz (four-man), and family members of the late pilot Steven Holcomb (two-man and four-man) received their Olympic silver medals after the International Olympic Committee officially announced the upgrades from bronze earlier this year following the disqualification of athletes who were found to be doping. IOC members and Olympic medalists Anita DeFrantz (rowing) and Kikkan Randall (cross-country skiing) were on site to present the silver medals.
“Congratulations to all of the Team USA winners and finalists this year,” said USOPC CEO Sarah Hirshland. “It was an honor to be here tonight to celebrate American athletes and their inspiring performances from this past year. It was also incredibly moving to honor and rightfully acknowledge four members of our Team USA community with medal reallocation ceremonies – Steven, Steve, Chris and Curt. It was a recognition that is long overdue. Tonight has been a fantastic tribute to the continued excellence and spirit of Team USA.”
The four athletes and two team award winners were determined by online fan voting at TeamUSA.org/Awards, where more than 525,000 fan votes determined 50 percent of the final tally. Members of the Olympic and Paralympic community – including representatives from each member sport organization and an esteemed panel of Olympic and Paralympic journalists – accounted for the other 50 percent. Athletes and teams considered for the Best of the Year were finalists for Best of the Month honors, dating back to the fall of 2018 and coinciding with the sport calendar.
For coaching awards, National Governing Bodies selected their nominees as part of the USOPC’s annual coach of the year recognition program, and the winners were determined by a USOPC selection panel of coaching and sport performance professionals.
2019 Team USA Awards, presented by Dow, Best of the Year winners:
Female Olympic Athlete of the Year
Simone Biles (Spring, Texas), Gymnastics
Biles won five gold medals at the 2019 FIG World Championships – more than any gymnast at a single worlds since 1958 – improving her career total to 25 world medals, two more than any gymnast in history. During the competition in Stuttgart, Germany, she completed two skills never performed by a female gymnast in competition: a double-double dismount on beam and a triple-double on floor, which will be named in her honor. She also became the first woman since 1952 to win a sixth U.S. all-around title.
Female Paralympic Athlete of the Year
Oksana Masters (Louisville, Kentucky), Para Nordic Skiing and Para-cycling
Masters had a banner year that saw her capture five world titles and six total medals at the Para Nordic skiing world championships before claiming the overall world cup cross-country globe in the women's sitting class. A multisport athlete, she ended the year with a pair of silver medals at the UCI Para-cycling Road World Championships in the H5 road race and time trial.
Male Olympic Athlete of the Year
Nathan Chen (Salt Lake City, Utah), Figure Skating
Chen became the first American man since 1984 to win back-to-back world championship titles in March 2019, and only the fourth male figure skater – and first from the U.S. – to win consecutive ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final titles (2017, 2018) after securing wins at the 2018 Internationaux de France and 2018 Skate America, where he topped the field by 41.06 points – the largest margin in Skate America history. He also won his third consecutive U.S. title, smashing the record for the highest margin of victory at 58.21 points.
Male Paralympic Athlete of the Year
Ben Thompson (Ladson, South Carolina), Para Archery
Thompson upset the world No.1 archer to win gold in the individual men’s compound event at the 2019 world championships in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands. He also led Team USA to a world record in the compound men’s open team ranking round and ended the season with a No. 1 world ranking.
Olympic Team of the Year, presented by Dow
U.S. Women’s World Cup Team, Soccer
The U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team went undefeated at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, earning a historic 13-0 victory against Thailand and winning its second straight – and fourth overall – World Cup title, the most of any nation. Team co-captain Megan Rapinoe became only the second American to win the Golden Boot award after scoring a tournament-high six goals – including the game-winning goal in the final – and also earned the Golden Ball as the tournament’s most valuable player.
Paralympic Team of the Year, presented by Dow
U.S. National Team, Sled Hockey
The U.S. National Sled Hockey Team secured the gold medal at the 2019 world championship in Ostrava, Czech Republic, going undefeated for the second time in tournament history en route to capturing its fourth world title. The team also earned an unprecedented fifth straight Para Hockey Cup with its 2018 win, marking its record-setting seventh title at the competition.
Olympic Coach of the Year
KiSik Lee (Chula Vista, California), Archery
Lee led U.S. archers to a historic year, highlighted by Brady Ellison becoming the first U.S. Olympic-style archer to win the world title since 1985. Under Lee’s tutelage, the world No. 1-ranked Ellison became the first man to win five world cup final titles, also placing at three world cup stages with two golds and one bronze medal. Additionally, Ellison set a world record of 702/720 in the qualifying stage at the Pan American Games Lima 2019. With Lee in the coach’s box in Lima, Ellison and 15-year-old Casey Kaufhold also won gold in the mixed team event, which will make its Olympic debut in 2020.
Paralympic Coach of the Year
Wesley Johnson (Sandy, Utah), Paratriathlon
Johnson served as an assistant coach for the U.S. team at the 2019 ITU Paratriathlon World Championships in Lausanne, Switzerland. In that role, he guided Kendall Gretsch (PTWC), Allysa Seely (PTS2) and Kelly Elmlinger (PTS4) to silver medals, and five additional U.S. paratriathletes to top-five finishes. Johnson also coached the U.S. team at the ITU World Paratriathlon Series stop in Yokohama, Japan, where American athletes earned three gold medals, two silvers and one bronze. Additionally, he is the personal coach of Grace Norman (PTS5) and Chris Hammer (PTS5), who each ended their seasons ranked No. 3 in the world, and Brad Snyder (PTVI), who finished his year ranked No. 8 in the world in just his second year as an elite paratriathlete. Johnson leads a squad of elite, junior elite and paratriathlon elite athletes as the founder and head coach of Balanced Art Multisport in Salt Lake City.
About the Team USA Awards presented by Dow, Best of the Year
Formerly known as the USOPC SportsMan, SportsWoman and Team of the Year awards, the honors began in 1974. The impressive and diverse collection of past winners represent various sports on the summer and winter Olympic and Paralympic programs. Their collective accomplishments tell the inspiring story of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic movements throughout history. Athletes and teams considered for the Best of the Year are finalists for Best of the Month honors, dating back to the fall of the previous year and coinciding with the sport calendar. A USOPC nominating committee selects the top-five finalists to advance to the voting round. In years in which the Olympic and Paralympic Games are contested, top athletes and coaches are recognized as part of the Team USA Awards, Best of the Games program.