January 14 - Speedskater Heather Richardson and alpine skier Ted Ligety have been awarded the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) Athlete of the Month titles following outstanding performances throughout December.
Richardson (pictured top) was a prominent feature on podiums throughout the month, beginning with the International Skating Union (ISU) Long Track World Cup in Nagano, Japan, where she put in a gold medal winning performance in the 1,000-metre race on day one of the event.
The following day saw the 23-year-old capture silver and bronze in the 1,000 and 500m races, setting a new world cup circuit track record of 151.670 in the combined sprint total points.
She then closed the year with victories in the 500, 1,000 and 1,500m races at the US Long Track Championships in Salt Lake City, where she also set new national records in all three races and captured the overall sprint champion title.
Freestyle skiing standout Heather McPhie and skeleton's Kimber Gabryszak earned second and third place in the female Athlete of the Month vote.
Olympic gold medallist Ligety got December underway with a massive 1.76-second victory over Austria's Marcel Hirscher at the Audi Birds of Prey giant slalom in Beaver Creek, Colorado, before backing it up with a third-place world cup finish on the notoriously steep Face de Belvarde in Val d'Isère, France, a week later.
The 2011 world champion secured his second giant slalom win of the month with an enormous 2.09-second victory on in Alta Badia, Italy, marking his 14th career win, leaving him in a solid position to seek his first World Cup overall title.
Ligety was followed in the men's Athlete of the Month honours by bobsled pilot Codie Bascue and biathlon's Tim Burke, who took second and third place respectively.
Meanwhile, snowboardcross duo Seth Wescott and Nate Holland have earned the USOC Team of the Month honour after winning every heat en route to the December 15 team snowboardcross victory at the Paul Mitchell Progression Session World Cup in Telluride, Colorado.
Wescott, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, and Holland, seven-time X Games champion, clinched the split-second victory in a thrilling final thanks to a brilliant mid-run pass by Holland in the first leg to move the team into second and set up Wescott for a gutsy finish jump pass.
Wescott had also won the individual event at the USANA Snowboardcross Cup the previous day.
Figure skating duo Meryl Davis and Charlie White earned second place in the Team of the Month awards, while the Pete Fenson curling team featuring Fenson, Shawn Rojeski, Joe Polo and Ryan Brunt rounded out the voting in third.
Each National Governing Body may nominate one female, one male and one team per discipline for the USOC Athlete and Team of the Month titles.
A voting panel selects the winners from the pool of nominees, with online fan voting via Twitter accounting for 10 percent of the total vote.
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