Battelle Earns USSA's Top Athletic Honors

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Park City, UT, Sept. 18--World Cup moguls champion and World Championships gold medalist Ann Battelle (Steamboat Springs, CO), who shook off thoughts of retirement to sculpt a storybook season last winter, and former U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association Chairman Thom Weisel (San Francisco) received the Olympic ski and snowboard federation's highest honors Saturday night.

In the Chairman's Dinner concluding the USSA annual Congress, Battelle - a three-time Olympian who considered retirement right up to the start of the 1998-99 World Cup season - was honored with the Beck International Award, USSA's highest athletic award, which is given each year to an athlete based on outstanding international performance. The '98 winner was Olympic and World Cup moguls champion Jonny Moseley (Tiburon, CA).

Weisel, chairman of the organization during 1984-94, received the Julius Blegen Award, USSA's highest award for a USSA member based on longtime contributions and outstanding service to skiing or snowboarding in the United States. He continues to be an active member of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team Foundation, which raises more than $4 million annually for USSA's 14 national teams in six Olympic and Paralympic sports.

Battelle won the final event of the '99 World Cup schedule in Japan to capture the moguls title. At the world Championships in Switzerland, she won the individual moguls championship and took the bronze medal in dual moguls. She came home and swept both the individual and duals titles last March at the Chevy Truck U.S. Freestyle Championships at Utah's Deer Valley resort.

"There's no way to accurately measure Thom's continuing contributions to the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team. He truly has been a gold-medal supporter and conttinues to show the leadership which makes our programs successful," said USSA President and CEO Bill Marolt. "And what Ann accomplished last season in dominating moguls, internationally and domestically, was a tremendous tribute to her inner strength and skiing skills as she became the best in the world."

Other top honors presented during the dinner at the Yarrow Hotel:

Recognition for their accomplishments upon the retirements of 1998 Olympic and World Cup aerials champion Nikki Stone (Westborough, Mass.), who also won the 1995 World Championships gold medal and World Cup title; three-time U.S. nordic combined champion and Olympian Tim Tetreault (Norwich, VT); alpine skier Shaina Mulkern (Magnolia, MA); and snowboarder Shannon Melhuse (Salem, OR). Each received a special plaque and U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team limited edition jacket.

International Coach of the Year honors to Ueli Luthi (Mammoth Lakes, CA), former men's alpine head coach and downhill head coach during his 14 seasons with the U.S. Ski Team, and Development Coach of the Year for Raymond Devre, freestyle coach at California's Squaw Valley resort.

The Paul Bacon Award, presented each year to an individual or group for outstanding race organization, was given to Jim Roberts, chief of race for the 1999 World Alpine Ski Championships in Vail and Beaver Creek, Colo.

Selection of the Sun Valley (ID) Ski Education Foundation as USSA Club of the Year, recognizing the full realm of alpine, nordic, freestyle and snowboard competition activities offered by the club, which has been one of the nation's top nordic development programs for years. Marolt, pointing to USSA's theme of "Partnership in Athletics," said the next annual convention will be part of the organization's effort to strengthen grassroots programs and local clubs, reaching back into communities - and will be held Sept. 20-24, 2000 in Killington, Vt. Copyright © 1999 U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association All rights reserved.