Women of sports honored in Denver

Olympian Mikaela Shiffrin named sportswoman of year

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Mikaela Shiffrin was presented with yet another honor because of her fabulous skiing career. Yet this one was earned before she even won her Gold Medal at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Shiffrin was named March 9 as the 2013 Athlete of the Year by the Sportswomen of Colorado at the group’s 40 annual awards presentation at the Hyatt Regency Tech Center in Denver.

Shiffrin was not present at the banquet due to other commitments and her father Jeff Shiffrin accepted the Olympian’s trophy. In a way the award might also be considered a pre-birthday present too, as she was born March 13, 1995.

“Mikaela would have loved to have been here and watch the others receive their awards, too,” Shiffrin said. “She sends her thanks to everyone and wishes them the best in their athletic endeavors.”

In 2013 Shiffrin had five, first-place finishes and two, third-place finishes in slalom.

She also became the first American woman to earn two World Cup gold medals before the age of 18, winning the World Championship in slalom, Feb. 16, 2013 in Austria.

“When I ski, it’s like a song,” Shiffrin said last year. “I can hear the rhythm in my head.”

A total of 51 athletes and coaches were recognized among various sports for their 2013 accomplishments. Only one woman, Taylor Fogg, who attended Pine Creek High School in Colorado Springs and currently is attending Columbia University, was inducted into the SWOC Hall of Fame.

Fogg was also honored as the Sportswomen’s High School Athlete of the Year. In order to achieve Hall of Fame induction, an athlete must have been recognized three times by the organization for their careers in their respective sports.  

When it comes to distance running, Fogg certainly has that ability to leave her opponents “in a fog.” She won the 17-19 age group division in the USA Triathlon National Championship in Burlington, Vt., and finished third overall. She has been doing triathlons since she was 9 years old, winning several and always finishing among the top finishers, regardless of her age division.

“This is such an honor to be placed in the Hall of Fame,” said Fogg, following her induction.

“This will also be a memory that I will cherish forever. My thanks certainly go to the Sportswomen. Being honored for a third time is just another reason that I just don’t want to slow down in any of my activities.”

Fogg, who excelled in cross country and swimming at Pine Creek, was also named the Denver Post prep Athlete of the Year last year.   

The featured speaker at the event was Lacey Henderson, the Paralympic 200 meter and Long Jump American record holder. 

The awards were announced once again by Marcia Neville and Susie Wargin, with Henderson placing the medals around the necks of awardees.

One other award was presented, and it was a surprise to the awardee. Joan Birkland, who is the Executive Director of Sportswomen, was awarded the group’s inaugural Lifetime Award. During her athletic career, Birkland won more than a dozen state tennis titles and seven golf championships.

And, no one will be surprised in the future if the Lifetime Award becomes yet another special award from the Sportswomen of Colorado.

“I didn’t know this was going to happen,” said Birkland. “This is all new to me. I’ve just tried to do the best for our organization over the years and I’m honored by this surprise.”