COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) coach Erik Flora of Anchorage, Alaska was recognized as the U.S. Olympic Committee’s 2013 National Coach of the Year. He is the fourth USSA coach to earn the top coaching honor since the USOC debuted the award in 1996.
“It’s an honor to recognize these coaches for their impact on countless athletes around the country,” said USOC Chief of Sport Performance Alan Ashley. “Their tireless efforts and dedication to helping athletes strive for excellence is an inspiration to all.”
Flora was honored for his work with elite cross-country skiers on the U.S. Cross-Country Ski Team, including Kikkan Randall, who won the 2013 FIS World Cup and team sprint gold at World Championships. As head coach for Alaska Pacific University Nordic program, Flora is integrated into the U.S. Ski Team coaching staff where club coaches play an important role in athlete success.
“Erik has worked hard to build what is arguably the strongest club in the nation focused on the development of elite cross-country ski racers. His enthusiasm for ski racing is evident when you meet him and the athletes in the APU program find it contagious,” said U.S. Ski Team Head Cross-Country Coach Chris Groves. “Erik has a fantastic way of motivating the athletes and getting them out the door training on yet another rainy, windy, cold Anchorage, Alaska morning. He gives the athletes confidence to know that the work they need to do on a daily basis is achievable, and thereby builds a foundation for future hard work and racing success.”
Under Flora’s guidance, the U.S. women’s cross-country team also earned its first relay podium finish in World Cup history and the first top-three individual ranking in the overall World Cup standings. In addition to Randall, Flora aided other top U.S. skiers to breakthrough results in 2013, including Holly Brooks, Sadie Bjorsen, Erik Bjornsen and overall SuperTour champion Rosie Brennan. Randall and Brooks teamed up to help the U.S. women’s cross country team earn its first relay podium finish in world cup history and Randall earned the first ever top-three individual ranking in the overall world cup standings for the U.S.
“As a USSA club coach, Erik has played a significant role in the success of our U.S. Cross-Country Ski Team,” noted USSA Executive Vice President, Athletics Luke Bodensteiner. “Clubs like APU Nordic are vital in our athletic pipeline. The integration of club coaches into our elite national teams in cross country has been key to our growing success in cross country. Coaches like Erik Flora make a difference for athletes and as an organization we are proud to have had four of our coaches earn this honor from the USOC over time.”
Past USSA winners include snowboarding coaches Pete del’Giudice, Bud Keene and Ricky Bower.
In other USOC awards, Adam Bleakney (Paralympic track & field; Champaign, IL) took home Paralympic National Coach of the Year honors. Additionally, Kathleen Johnston (triathlon; Nashville, TN) was named Developmental Coach of the Year, Bienvenido “Benny” Roman (boxing; Brooklyn, NY) was selected Volunteer Coach of the Year and Gordon Uehling III (tennis; Alpine, NJ) earned the Doc Councilman Science Award.
National Governing Bodies selected their 2013 Coaches of the Year as part of the USOC Coach of the Year Recognition Program. A panel of coaching and sport education professionals selected three national finalists in each category.
All-Time USOC National Coach of the Year Award Recipients
The National Coach of the Year is presented to a coach of an elite-level club, collegiate or national-level team, or the coach of an elite athlete who competes at the highest level of his/her sport.
1996 Tara VanDerveer, U.S. Olympic Women’s Basketball Coach
1997 Frank Carroll, Olympic Figure Skating Coach, Coach of Michelle Kwan
1998 Ben Smith, U.S. Olympic Women’s Ice Hockey Coach
1999 Chris Carmichael, Cycling Coach, Coach of Lance Armstrong
2000 Richard Quick, U.S. Olympic Women’s Swimming Coach
2001-02 Pete del’Giudice, U.S. Snowboarding Coach
2003 Lloyd Woodhouse, USA Shooting National Team Coach
2004 Mike Candrea, USA Softball Women’s National Team Coach
2005 Eddie Reese, USA Swimming Men’s National Team Coach
2006 Bud Keene, U.S. Snowboarding Coach
2007 Guy Baker, USA Water Polo National Team Coach
2008 Hugh McCutcheon, USA Men’s Volleyball National Team Coach
2009 Bob Bradley, U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team Coach
2010 Brian Shimer, U.S. Men’s Bobsled Head Coach
2011 Rick Bower, U.S. Snowboarding Halfpipe Coach
2012 Adam Krikorian, U.S. Women’s National Water Polo Team Coach
2013 Erik Flora, U.S. Olympic Cross-Country Skiing Coach
Release courtesy of USSA