SOCHI, Russia – The United States Olympic Committee today announced the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games finalists for Best of U.S., a new awards program that recognizes outstanding performances from the Olympic and Paralympic Games, as determined by fan vote.
For the Sochi Games, winners will be selected in each of the following categories: Best Male/Female Olympian, Best Male/Female Paralympian, Team of the Olympic/Paralympic Games, Moment of the Olympic/Paralympic Games, Team Behind the Team Award and Fan of the Games Award.
Fan voting begins today (Feb. 23) at 7 p.m. EST and continues through March 21 on the Team USA Facebook page. The 10 awards will be announced during the Best of U.S. Awards Show, scheduled to air April 7 on NBCSN.
A nominating committee, comprised of USOC, athlete and media representatives, selected the finalists for the individual athlete and team categories, as well as the Moment of the Games, based on nominations from each National Governing Body.
Team USA fans can submit nominations for the Fan of the Games Award via video or photo on the Team USA Facebook page.
Joss Christensen, Freestyle Skiing
Joss Christensen became the first-ever Olympic men’s slopestyle skiing champion, winning gold in its debut. His opening run score of 95.80 in the final earned him the top spot on the podium. Christensen posted the top-two scores in both the qualifying and final rounds.
Sage Kotsenburg, Snowboarding
After landing a trick he had never before attempted, Sage Kotsenburg earned the gold medal in the inaugural Olympic slopestyle snowboarding event. He scored a 93.50 when he landed a 1620 Japan with an air mute grab and the holy crail grab, which he invented. His win marked the first time a U.S. athlete secured the first gold medal of the Games since 1952.
Ted Ligety, Alpine Skiing
Ted Ligety became the first American skier to win gold in men’s giant slalom and the second American to earn two gold medals in alpine skiing. In his first run, Ligety built almost a second lead and won by nearly a half a second with a total time of 2:45.29.
David Wise, Freestyle Skiing
David Wise posted a 92.00 in his first run to win gold in men’s halfpipe skiing, which made its Olympic debut in Sochi. Wise landed his signature trick – the right-side double cork 360 – in the wet and heavy snow.
Jamie Anderson, Snowboarding
Jamie Anderson claimed gold in the debut of women’s slopestyle snowboarding. She put together a flawless second run to secure the top podium spot with a 95.25. Her win completed the U.S. gold-medal sweep in slopestyle snowboarding.
Maddie Bowman, Freestyle Skiing
Maddie Bowman became the first-ever Olympic women’s halfpipe skiing champion, taking gold in the sport’s debut. She landed in the top spot with her first run score of 85.80 after executing back-to-back 900s for the first time in her career. In her second run, she extended her lead with an 89.00. Her win completed the U.S. gold-medal sweep in halfpipe skiing.
Erin Hamlin, Luge
With a bronze-medal finish, Erin Hamlin became the first-ever U.S. Olympic medalist in singles luge. The results were even more impressive considering the 2009 world champion had not stood on a world cup podium in two years. Her performance also broke a 34-year German/Austrian hold on the women’s luge Olympic podium.
Mikaela Shiffrin, Alpine Skiing
Eighteen-year-old Mikaela Shiffrin became the youngest Olympic gold medalist in women’s slalom. After the first run, Shiffrin led the field by 0.49 seconds and turned in a stunning second run to give her the first U.S. slalom victory since Phil Mahre in 1984 and the first women’s slalom victory since Barbara Cochran in 1972.
Meryl Davis/Charlie White, Figure Skating
Meryl Davis and Charlie White captured the first U.S. ice dancing gold medal and captained Team USA to the bronze medal in the inaugural team event. The duo, which has been skating together for the last 17 years, set world-record scores in the short dance, free dance and total.
Men’s USA-1, Bobsled
Steven Holcomb and Steve Langton snapped a 62-year Olympic medal drought in two-man bobsled when the pair won the bronze medal. Holcomb piloted the sled to a four-run total time of 3:46.27. Six days later, the USA-1 four-man team of Holcomb, Curt Tomasevicz, Langton and Chris Fogt captured the bronze medal in the four-man event with a total time of 3:40.99. It marked the first time in 62 years the U.S. medaled in both the two-man and four-man bobsled at a single Games.
Elana Meyers/Lauryn Williams, Bobsled
Elana Meyers and Lauryn Williams claimed the silver medal in bobsled. Meyers piloted USA-1 with a total time of 3:50.71 and is now the only U.S. bobsledder to earn an Olympic medal as a pilot and brakeman. Meanwhile, Williams made history by becoming only the second American – and fifth athlete of any nation – to medal at both the summer and winter Games.
T.J. Oshie’s shootout performance against Russia
U.S. men’s ice hockey player T.J. Oshie captivated America and was trending worldwide on Twitter after he scored on four-of-six shootout attempts – including the game-winner in the bottom of the eighth round – to lift the U.S. to a stirring 3-2 victory over host Russia in one of the most anticipated events of the Olympic Winter Games. Oshie began the day with 90,000 followers on Twitter and 24 hours after the game, more than doubled that number.
Men's slopestyle skiing podium sweep
Joss Christensen, Gus Kenworthy and Nick Goepper earned a U.S. podium sweep in the Olympic debut of slopestyle skiing. The sweep was only the third by Team USA in Olympic Winter Games history with the last one occurring in halfpipe snowboarding in 2002.
Noelle Pikus-Pace's medal celebration
After a career altered by injury and a fourth-place finish at the Vancouver Games, Noelle Pikus-Pace's husband encouraged her to give her Olympic dream one more shot. With her family by her side, Pikus-Pace won the silver medal in in skeleton with a four-run time of 3:53.86. The 31-year-old mother of two celebrated the victory with her husband and two kids, who were waiting at the finish line.
Men's short track 5,000m relay team earning the silver medal
In the United States’ final opportunity for a speedskating medal at the Sochi Games, the U.S. men’s 5,000-meter short track relay team earned the silver medal. The team of Eddy Alvarez, J.R. Celski, Chris Creveling and Jordan Malone continued Team USA’s tradition of earning a speedskating medal at every Games since 1988.
Bode Miller becoming the oldest alpine skiing medalist
At 36, Bode Miller became the oldest alpine skiing medalist with his bronze-medal performance in the super-G. The bronze medal pushed Miller’s Olympic medal count to six, which is second all-time in U.S. Olympic Winter Games history.