Kotsenburg, Davis/White, Pikus-Pace among Best of U.S. Awards winners
WASHINGTON – Sage Kotsenburg, Erin Hamlin, Meryl Davis and Charlie White and Noelle Pikus-Pace earned top honors at the first Best of U.S. Awards at Warner Theatre on Wednesday night.
Kotsenburg, the first Olympic snowboard slopestyle champion, won Male Athlete of the Sochi Olympics. He beat fellow gold medalists Joss Christensen (ski slopestyle), Ted Ligety (giant slalom) and David Wise (ski halfpipe). All awards were decided by fan voting.
“I didn’t really prepare a speech,” Kotsenburg said after being presented with his award from two-time Olympic softball medalist Jennie Finch. “I didn’t know this was an awards show until last night.”
Hamlin, who won the first U.S. Olympic singles luge medal (bronze), earned Female Athlete of the Olympics over gold medalists Jamie Anderson (snowboard slopestyle), Maddie Bowman (ski halfpipe) and Mikaela Shiffrin (slalom).
“This is unreal,” Hamlin said after getting her award from 2010 Olympic figure skating champion Evan Lysacek. “Luge, like most of you know, isn’t the most popular sport. … People know what it is now a little bit, I think. It’s a step in the right direction.”
Davis and White, the first U.S. Olympic ice dancing champions, won Team of the Olympics over U.S. men’s and women’s bobsled bronze and silver medalists.
Pikus-Pace, a mother of two who slid to skeleton silver, was chosen Moment of the Olympics winner for her post-race celebration.
“We’ve all been through so much, so many moments to get to this point in our lives,” Pikus-Pace said. “That was just a glimpse of the gratitude that I feel in my heart for all those that have helped me to get to this moment.”
Pikus-Pace won over T.J. Oshie’s shootout performance to beat Russia, the men’s slopestyle skiing podium sweep, the men’s short track relay silver and Bode Miller becoming the oldest Alpine skiing medalist at 36.
NBC’s Willie Geist hosted the event honoring the best American performances from the Sochi Olympics and Paralympics. The U.S. finished second in the Olympic medal table with 28 total, its most ever at an Olympics held outside North America.
Figure skating analysts Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski conducted interviews with each winner, and Stephen Colbert even made a video appearance. The show will air on NBCSN on Monday at 7 p.m. ET.
The sled hockey gold medalists won Team of the Paralympics and took selfies on stage.
Alpine skiing medalists Mark Bathum (two silvers) and Stephanie Jallen (two bronzes) were named Male and Female Athletes of the Paralympics.
Jallen also won Moment of the Paralympics for taking a medal in her Paralympic debut.