Company Honors Individuals Most Responsible for
Helping American Athletes Reach Their Goals
AKRON, Ohio, January 19, 2010 – In a nod to its products that help millions of motorists reach their destinations on a daily basis, The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company today announced the three medal winners of the Goodyear ‘Get there’ Award, a recognition program designed to honor those most responsible for helping American athletes achieve their dream of competing on the world’s greatest stage in Vancouver. The program highlights the often little-known stories of those people who work tirelessly behind the scenes to help America’s athletes achieve their goals.
Goodyear’s selection panel included World and Olympic Champion Bonnie Blair. The three medal award winners were selected from among 15 individual honorees representing each major winter sport discipline and recognized for their extraordinary efforts to help the athletes excel.
"I’m proud to be able to help shine a light on the incredible dedication and often behind-the-scenes contributions made by parents, coaches, teachers, spouses and others who make it possible for athletes like me to succeed on the world’s greatest stage," said Blair, the United States’ most decorated Winter Olympian, holding a record five gold medals and a bronze medal as well as 10 World Cup titles, 66 World Cup races, and 9 World Records earned during her legendary career. "The stories of the 15 individuals being recognized with the Goodyear ‘Get there’ Award, and the hundreds of other people like them, shows just how essential their support and encouragement is in helping athletes achieve their goals."
"Goodyear is committed to developing best-in-class innovations and breakthrough technologies that help consumers reach their destinations … or ‘Get there,’" said Scott Rogers, Chief Marketing Officer, Goodyear. "What better embodiment of that philosophy than to honor those unsung heroes who have helped American athletes ‘Get there’ to the ultimate athletic stage."
The three medal winners, selected by a Goodyear panel spearheaded by Blair, will be presented with the special Goodyear ‘Get there’ Award and include:
When Michael Bradley was 12 years old, Frances Bradley signed her son up for a youth bobsled program while vacationing in Lake Placid, New York. The intent of the program was to get young athletes into a training regime to help develop their talents enough to get them on a track to a career competing at the highest levels. For a span of three years Frances Bradley drove her son five hours each way from Philadelphia to Lake Placid to train. Thanks to his mother’s dedication and commitment to getting Michael to training every weekend, Michael’s bobsled career began to take off – he secured multiple medals in competition and showed his coaches his potential through competition and his training. With Michael developing into a serious competitor, Frances and the rest of the family dedicated their time, money and energy into seeing his dreams play out. At age 15, Michael began spending his winters in Lake Placid to train, giving his mother 10 hours of her life back each weekend; but it was his mother’s extreme dedication to her son’s dreams that enabled Michael to be ready for his shot at a medal.
As a boy battling with depression in middle school, Trevor Marsicano used to get teased and bullied for being shy and having no confidence. With the help and support of his parents, Trevor made big changes in his life in an attempt to turn his life around. Among the changes: switching to home schooling and switching from playing ice hockey to focusing on speed skating. It was through speed skating that Trevor met Coach Paul Marchese. It was Paul who told Trevor that his talent and drive could make him an athlete worthy of a shot at competing on the world’s biggest stage, giving him confidence…something Trevor never had before. In December 2004 during a World Junior Championship short track qualifier event, Trevor suffered a severe laceration to his leg from the skate of a competitor who had fallen in front of him. Trevor lost half the blood in his body and underwent two hours of emergency surgery, was unable to skate for three months thereafter and did not fully recover until almost a year later. With the strong support and help from Paul, Trevor was able to regain top form and successfully switch to Long-Track, where he not only made the team for the junior world championships, but won the 3,000 meter race and overall bronze medal. Perhaps the most interesting fact about the relationship between Trevor and Paul…Trevor trains in Milwaukee and Paul is based in upstate New York. They stay in constant communication via phone and e-mail, trying not to let the distance affect their success on the ice. Paul’s dedication has given Trevor a legitimate shot to medal in Vancouver.
Buzz Smith has played an instrumental role in the life and development of Jason Smith, having raised his grandson since he was a young child in Minnesota. Buzz was retired by the time Jason turned five and was able to dedicate the time necessary to coach Jason in many sports, including youth baseball. But it would turn out that it was Buzz opening the doors of the Chisholm Curling Club after school each day for Jason and his close friend John Shuster to try the sport that would strike a chord in both boys. Both Smith and Shuster credit Buzz’s dedication to helping them become better curlers and understand the importance of practicing as a major reason why they made the 2010 curling team. Jason refers to Buzz as his best friend and when his grandfather moved to Florida several years ago from northern Minnesota, Jason soon followed and found a job in construction so he could maintain his friendship with his grandfather. Now in his late 70s, Buzz is still Jason’s biggest supporter.
"Our panel found it difficult to select just three winners from among the stories we read, as each individual showed an outstanding commitment to helping America’s aspiring athletes ‘Get there,’" added Rogers. "In addition to honoring the three winners, Goodyear is thanking all 15 honorees for their dedication and outstanding support by helping them ‘Get there’ with an award of a free set of top-of-the-line Goodyear high technology tires."
other Goodyear ‘Get there’ Award honorees include:
The Andover Outing Club and Eastern Ski Jumping in memory of Marianne Fairall
Bill & Cyndi Ligety from Park City, UT for their support of alpine skier Ted Ligety
Erik Flora from Anchorage, AK for his support of cross-country skier Kikkan Randall
Don Cook from Boston, MA for his support of freestyle skier Emily Cookfrom Los Angeles, CA for his support of figure skater Evan Lysacek
Bill Ruggiero from Harper Woods, MN for his support of ice hockey player Angela Ruggiero
Jae Su Chun from Draper, UT for his support of USA Short Track
Ted Uhlaender from Aurora, CO for his support of skeleton competitor Katie Uhlaender
Jesse White from Carlsbad, CA, for his support of snowboarder Shaun White
Ron Rossi from Lake Placid, NY for his support of USA Luge
Per Nilsson from Lake Placid, NY for his support of biathlete Tim Burke
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Tim Burke made sports history recently, becoming the first ever U.S. athlete to ever take the top of the Biathlon World Cup standings. According to Burke, his recent achievements, including earning both a silver and a bronze medal at the opening event of the World Cup to become the first American to achieve two podium finishes in the same week, are not a signal of some recent tweak or change, but rather the culmination of years of hard work. So what is his secret? Burke stated in a recent interview that a significant impact on his improved performance was working with his coach, Per Nilsson. "Before Per started coaching me, I had never scored a World Cup point," he said. "I thought I was training really hard in 2006, then I met Per and I have a new meaning of training hard. I can't say enough about the work he's done for me." Just four years after beginning working with Per and earning no World Cup points, Tim Burke heads into Vancouver with momentum and his coach at his side.
Coach of Todd Lodwick and the USA Nordic Combined Skiing Team
Jae Su Chun, Draper, Utah
National/Olympic Head Coach for Team USA Short Track
Jae Su Chun has revolutionized the way Team USA Short Track trains. He has taken a team, once only known for one skater (Apolo Ohno) and developed a competitive team. In 2006 Ohno was the lone American short-track skater to medal on the World Cup circuit heading into the Turin Games. Heading into the 2010 Games and under the guidance of Chun, Team USA Short Track is poised to be competitive in Vancouver.
Ted Uhlaender, Aurora, Colorado
Father of Katie Uhlaender
Ted Uhlaender played eight seasons in Major League Baseball and understands the dedication it takes to succeed at the highest levels in athletics. Katie Uhlaender cites her father Ted as the person who taught her everything in life. From how to read, to her work ethic, Ted has played a pivotal role in his daughter’s success, providing her support as she competed in multiple national and world competitions over her career. Uhlaender made the Winter Olympic Team in 2006 and claimed a sixth place finish in Turin. Thanks to the support of her father, coaches and team-mates, she dominated the World Cup tour during the 2006-2007 season with five gold medals and the overall World Cup crown. Uhlaender won the World Cup in the 2007-2008 season as well.
The Andover Outing Club and Eastern Ski Jumping in memory of Marianne Fairall, Andover, Mass.
Mother of Nick Fairall
As a mom, Marianne Fairall supported her son Nick’s ski jumping dream, but she was also deeply involved in the U.S. ski jumping movement as a fundraiser and administrator before passing away due to a brain tumor more than a year ago. Fundraising has become absolutely crucial for American ski jumping, after the U.S. Ski Team dropped funding for the program after the 2006 Turin Games. A group of Americans founded a developmental program called Project X in 2008 to help young ski jumpers pursue their dreams. Marianne did her fundraising work for the Andover Outing Club and Eastern Ski Jumping, where many of the young ski jumpers in Project X come from.
Jesse White, Carlsbad, California
Brother of Shaun White
As many younger siblings often do, Shaun White always looked up to his older brother. Jesse White and Shaun were inseparable at a young age – if Jesse was doing something, so was Shaun. By the tender age of 4, Shaun was already shredding on the slopes with his family, but just a year later, doctors noticed he suffered from a serious heart malformation and Shaun underwent several surgeries. As Shaun recovered, the trend continued… in those early years, it was Shaun following Jesse, from skateboarding in the backyard to hitting the slopes in Southern California. When Jesse decided to try snowboarding, Shaun was right there beside him. But soon, Shaun would pull away from his brother on the slopes and it didn’t take long before Shaun was on his meteoric rise to the top of the snowboarding world. Now it is his brother Jesse who is by his side, serving as Shaun’s biggest supporter and collaborator, but also as his biggest critic – pushing him towards practicing and working hard to maintain his superstar status and grow his business success.
When Tom Steitz took over the US Olympic Nordic Combined Skiing Team after the team had finished last in the1988 Olympics, it was time for a turnaround. After his arrival, Tom built a team that has consistently won medals and international respect. With the U.S. home of Nordic Combined being in
Erik Flora, Anchorage, Alaska
Coach of Kikkan Randall
Serving as the personal coach for Kikkan Randall, Erik Flora has helped Kikkan reach her cross-country skiing dreams and compete on the world’s biggest stage in 2002 and 2006. In addition to serving as Kikkan’s personal coach, Erik played an important role in the personal life of Kikkan, serving as the official that married her and husband, Canadian skier Jeff Ellis in a weight-room ceremony. In addition to Kikkan, Erik’s dedication to training athletes was recognized when he was named the International Nordic Coach of the Year in 2009.
Frank Carroll, Los Angeles, California
Coach of Evan Lysacek
Described by Evan Lysacek as an incredible technician and awesome psychologist, coach Frank Carroll has continued to push the "talent envelope" for his student. Frank has encouraged Evan to continue his education in figure skating, learning new jumps to incorporate into his programs – particularly, the "quad." Evan captured gold in Skate America last November in Lake Placid with strong performance and is well prepared for competition in Vancouver.
Don Cook, Boston, Massachusetts
Father of Emily Cook
Emily Cook's mother died when she was very young, and she and her father, Don, have always enjoyed a very close relationship. Don gave Emily a pair of skis for Christmas when she was four years old, and took her to learn to ski at Nashoba Valley, a small hill in suburban Boston. Cook and her father, who is also an avid skier, began taking ski weekends in Sugarloaf, Maine; eventually building a second home there. Don rarely misses one of Emily's events and has become an avid photographer who has built a large portfolio featuring freestyle skiing events.
Bill Ruggiero, Harper Woods, Minnesota
Father of Angela Ruggiero
Angela Ruggiero and her siblings grew up in California, where hockey wasn't very popular. However, Angela began playing hockey due to her father’s influence on her. In 1987, Angela’s father Bill Ruggiero signed Angela’s brother up for hockey, but learned if he were to sign more of his kids up for the youth program there would be a discount for each additional kid that enrolled. So…Angela became a hockey player. While timid at first, Angela grew into one of the most recognizable women hockey players on the planet thanks to her father and support from her family. Angela has three Olympic medals (one gold, one silver and one bronze) and is hoping to add a fourth in Vancouver.
Ron Rossi, Lake Placid, New York
USA Luge CEO
Ron began his involvement with the sport of luge as an athlete in the late 1970s and became a top U.S. racer, competing as a member of the U.S. Olympic team in 1984. Following his retirement from competition, Ron took on the role of USA Luge CEO. At that time, the team had no major sponsorship, no top-level coaching nor history of regularly contending for medals. Under Ron’s guidance, USA Luge secured its first major sponsorship, hired an internationally respected coach, and re-designed the USA Luge recruiting system to target youngsters nationwide using wheeled luge sleds. Slowly but surely, the team started winning, first at the World Cup events and then got its big break - winning its first-ever World Championship gold medal in 1993. While Rossi’s U.S. team had contenders at the 1994 Games, it had to wait until the 1998 to get a taste of its first-ever medals – a silver and bronze in the doubles event. The feat was repeated again at the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City. In 2006, the U.S. posted two fourth place Olympic finishes, proving how competitive the team remained. In all, the team has won over 600 medals in international competition under Ron, including the most recent women’s World Championship title.
One might expect a big ego from someone who accomplished so much over a 25 year career, but that is not Ron. He is the definition of a behind-the-scenes guy who lets the spotlight shine on others while he takes care of the nuts and bolts operations of USA Luge. Ron is happy when he is working to make the team better, often seen putting in late nights at the office after he puts his kids to bed. Ron is also one of the most respected guys in the Olympic movement due to his integrity, honesty and dedication to his athletes and staff. He has made USA Luge a model of success for smaller sports in the United States and according to the team, without Ron, they would never be where they are today.
Tom Steitz, Steamboat Springs, Colorado
2010 Goodyear ‘Get there’ Award Winners
Bill & Cyndi Ligety, Park City, Utah
Parents of Ted Ligety
Alpine skier Ted Ligety was born and raised in the winter sports hub of Park City, Utah. His parents, Bill and Cyndi, had Ted on skis by age 2 and he was racing competitively by age 11. Ted skied his inaugural World Cup season with "MOM AND DAD" written across his helmet while his competitors donned the name of a sponsor. Thanks to the dedication and consistent support of his parents, Ted has achieved success at five levels of Alpine competition.
Per Nilsson, Lake Placid, New York
Coach of Tim Burke