COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The United States Olympic Committee today announced the three Olympic and three Paralympic coaching finalists for the Team USA Awards presented by Dow, Best of the Games, honoring the outstanding contributions of U.S. coaches at the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018. Beginning in 2017, the USOC added the Olympic and Paralympic coaching accolades to the Team USA Awards program for Best of the Year and Best of the Games, further highlighting the important role coaches play in athlete performance.
The winners are determined via selection committee, and recognized during the Team USA Awards ceremony, to be held April 26 in Washington, D.C. Hosted by Mike Tirico, the ceremony will be televised as a 90-minute feature for the first time, and will run from 6-7:30 p.m. ET May 12 on NBCSN.
Olympic Coach of the Games Finalists
Jason Cork, cross-country skiing
As a coach for U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s cross-country ski team and the personal coach of two-time Olympian and Olympic gold medalist Jessie Diggins, Cork was instrumental in leading Team USA to its first-ever Olympic medal in women’s cross-country skiing and the first U.S. gold medal in the sport. In addition to the historic gold medal in team sprint, Cork also guided Diggins to three individual top-five finishes – the best-ever for an American woman in Olympic cross-country skiing (prior to the gold medal). His dedicated mentorship of Diggins was highlighted by a relocation from the Midwest to Vermont in the lead up to the PyeongChang Games, where his cultivated skill as a ski technician was also critical to Team USA’s success.
Phill Drobnick, curling
Drobnick guided the U.S. men to Team USA’s first Olympic gold medal in curling at the PyeongChang Games. After opening the tournament 2-4 in round-robin competition, the U.S. rallied to four straight wins – including two over three-time defending Olympic champion Canada – to advance to its first gold-medal match in Olympic history. The round-robin win against Canada was also a first for the U.S. curling program, which had previously never defeated Canada at the Olympic Winter Games. Drobnick then aided the U.S. to a strategic 10-7 upset victory over Sweden in the final. The gold-medal game was tightly contested until a huge five-point score in the eighth end put the Americans in control for good.
Mike Jankowski, freestyle skiing (halfpipe and slopestyle) and snowboarding
Under Jankowski’s direction, U.S. freestyle skiers and snowboarders combined to win 11 medals – including five golds – at the PyeongChang Games. The medal haul accounted for nearly half of Team USA’s podium finishes in PyeongChang, and improved U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s overall total to 29 Olympic medals in halfpipe, slopestyle and big air events since Jankowski arrived at the helm of these programs in 2006. Elevated by Jankowski’s ability to identify individual strengths and assemble a world-class team of specialists with training partnerships around the world, U.S. freestyle skiers and snowboarders have achieved unparalleled success on the global stage for more than a decade.
Paralympic Coach of the Games Finalists
Gary Colliander, Nordic skiing
With Colliander’s biathlon expertise, the U.S. Paralympic Nordic Skiing Team concluded the PyeongChang Games in record-setting fashion with seven biathlon medals. Prior to the PyeongChang Games, the U.S. had only garnered one biathlon medal in Olympic or Paralympic Winter Games history. Colliander, who previously coached the U.S. Women’s National Biathlon Team on the Olympic side, was brought on as a Paralympic biathlon coach in December 2016, and successfully propelled the program by guiding Team USA to claim two golds, four silvers and one bronze in PyeongChang. During the Games, he helped coach four Paralympians to clean shooting, including Oksana Masters, who did not miss a shot in individual biathlon and biathlon sprint. The U.S. Paralympic Nordic Skiing Team added nine medals in cross-country races, bringing its event total to 16 medals – including six golds.
Guy Gosselin, sled hockey
Gosselin guided the U.S. sled hockey team to an unprecedented third-straight Paralympic gold medal on the strength of an unbeaten record that culminated in a thrilling come-from-behind overtime win against rival Canada in the gold-medal game. Under his direction, Team USA tallied a U.S. Paralympic record 40 goals in five games. Individually, Gosselin coached Brody Roybal to tournament accolades as Best Forward and MVP with 17 points – including 10 goals – while Declan Farmer tied a U.S. and Paralympic record for most goals (11) at a single Paralympic Winter Games. The PyeongChang Games marked Gosselin’s first Paralympic Winter Games in a head coaching role after assisting the late Jeff Sauer to the gold medal in 2014.
Graham Watanabe, snowboarding
In only his second year with the program and his first as head coach, Watanabe led the U.S. Paralympic Snowboarding Team to a historic 13-medal showing in PyeongChang. Competing in the sport’s second appearance at a Paralympic Winter Games, U.S. snowboarders topped the medal table, winning five of the 10 events and nearly tripling the number of medals won by the next closest nation. Under Watanabe’s tutelage, U.S. athletes shined in the Paralympic debut of banked slalom, winning six medals, and added seven medals in snowboardcross. Additionally, he guided five athletes to gold medals in their Paralympic debuts, including Brenna Huckaby, who won both of her events.