Olympic gold-medal winners Shaun White of the United States and Kim Yu Na of South Korea were named the United States Sports Academy’s February Athletes of the Month.
There were many multiple gold-medal winners at the Vancouver Games, but White and Yu Na, each of whom competed in only one event, dominated their only competitions like few others. Considering their ages (White is 23 and Yu Na is 19), they might be grabbing headlines for years to come.
White ruled the men’s halfpipe on the way to winning his second straight Olympic gold medal. With an Olympic gold medal already clinched on the strength of his first of two runs, White made his second run a memorable one. He executed a new move, called the “Double McTwist 1260,” and compiled a score of 48.4 in the judged event (the best possible score is 50). White’s runner up had 45 points.
Yu Na, the reigning world champion, had one of the best performances in the history of the sport. Her total of 228.56 points shattered her career-best and world record by 18 points to become the first South Korean to win a figure skating medal. South Korea is so enamored by her performance that it has commissioned a coin in her honor.
Finishing second in the men’s vote was New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who was the Most Valuable Player of the Super Bowl. Brees completed 32 of 39 passes for 288 yards and two scores as the Saints won their first Super Bowl 31-17 over the Indianapolis Colts.
The runner-up in the women’s vote was United States skier Lindsey Vonn, who won a gold medal in the women’s downhill and added a bronze medal in the Super G.
Third-place finishers were U.S. skier Bode Miller for the men and cross country skier Marit Bjoergen of Norway for the women. Miller became the most decorated men’s skier in American history, winning three medals in Vancouver, including a gold medal in the super combined. Bjoergen won more medals than anyone in the Olympics with five. She won three golds, one silver and a bronze.
Athlete of the Month winners are eligible to be included in the Academy’s Athlete of the Year ballot at the end of the year.
The public is invited to participate in the worldwide Athlete of the Month nominating and balloting processes. Visit the Academy website at www.ussa.edu and fill out the nomination form, and return to the website the first week of each month to vote on the Athlete of the Month. Winners will be announced on the Academy’s website and in the online edition of the Academy Update.