American skiers Todd Ligety and Mikaela Shiffrin were chosen as the United States Sports Academy’s February Athletes of the Month in worldwide online voting.
Ligety matched a feat last achieved by the legendary Jean-Claude Killly 45 years ago in 1968. The 28-year-old won three gold medals in the super-G, super combined and his specialty, the giant slalom. His performance at the World Championships in Schladming, Austria, demonstrated his all-round versatility and catapulted him to superstar status.
Meanwhile, Shiffrin, who just turned 18-years-old, continued her dominance in the slalom, capturing the world championship. She finished her run in Schladming, Austria, with a time of 1:39.85 seconds, 0.22 seconds faster than Austrian hometown hero Michaela Kirchgasser in the 2013 World Championships. Shiffrin came from behind to win the gold medal. The victory gave her three wins in seven slalom races on the World Cup tour this season to that point.
The public is invited to participate in the worldwide Athlete of the Month nomination and ballot voting processes. Visit the Academy website at www.ussa.edu to submit your nominations each month, and then return to the website during the first two weeks of each month to vote for the male and female Athletes of the Month. The votes along with an Academy committee choose the winners who become candidates for the Athlete of the Year. The monthly and yearly winners are announced on the Academy’s website and in the sports university’s online edition of The Sport Update.
Finishing second in the men’s category was Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, who earned the Super Bowl’s Most Valuable Player award. In leading Baltimore to a 34-31 victory over the San Francisco 49ers, Flacco completed 22 of 33 passes for 287 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. He became the sixth player in NFL history to throw three or more touchdown passes in the first half of a Super Bowl game.
The runner-up to Shiffrin on the women’s ballot was Danica Patrick, who made history at the Daytona 500. She became the first woman to win the pole position; the first woman to lead a lap; and the first woman to finish eighth in the race—the best finish by a woman ever. In addition, Patrick is just the 13th driver to lead laps in America’s two most famous races—the Indianapolis 500 and now the Daytona 500, joining the likes of Mario Andretti, A.J. Foyt, Johnny Rutherford, Bobby Unser, Tony Stewart and Tim Richmond.
Third place winners for February were Miami Heat forward LeBron James, who in February became the first NBA player to shoot over 64% in any calendar month since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar did it in March 1983; and Ronda Rousey, who successfully defended her UFC Women’s Bantamweight Championship with her 10 straight first round victory..
Ligety and Shiffrin are now eligible for the Academy’s male and female 2013 Athlete of the Year Award. For the 29th consecutive year, the Academy will oversee the worldwide online voting that will take place in December. This prestigious award is currently done in conjunction with NBC Sports.
In 2012, the male Athlete of the Year was Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, who became the first man ever to win both the 100- and 200-meter races in successive Olympics. The female Athlete of the Year was American tennis player Serena Williams, who became the singles champion at Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and the Olympics. Both Olympians dominated 2012’s online ballot in December, which drew tens of thousands of votes a day from across the world.