2003 Team and Athlete of the Year Awards
Last year was an incredible year for multi-sport racing in North America, but who was the best? To determine the winners of the first annual Adventure Sports North American Team and Athlete of the Year awards, we organized a panel of key people close to the off-road endurance sports we cover. The 20-member panel included athletes, race directors and journalists (but no one with ties to any of the finalists). Drum roll please ... here are the winners.
The 2003 ASM Team of the Year Award goes to Team Nike ACG/Balance Bar (top, right), which won several major races and placed lower than second only once. The team of Ian Adamson, Mike Kloser, Michael Tobin and Danelle Ballengee won Subaru Primal Quest in convincing fashion, became the first U.S. team to win a highly competitive X-adventure Raid Series race and took the title of the three-race Balance Bar 24-Hour Adventure series.
Finishing second in the voting was Team Montrail, which also had an incredibly successful year with wins at the Raid Gauloises in Kyrgyzstan and Extreme Adventure Hidalgo in Mexico, and a runner-up showing in the Balance Bar 24-Hour series. Other finalists included Earthlink (1st, Cal Eco series), Balance Bar (1st, Balance Bar Sprints series), Subaru Canada (1st, Eco-Challenge North America and Appalachian Extreme), Salomon USA (1st, USARA National Championship), Epinephrine (8th, Suabaru Primal Quest, 3rd Balance Bar 24-Hour series), Suabru USA (7th, Subaru Primal Quest, 2nd, USARA National Championship) and Red Bull (2nd, Balance Bar Sprints series).
The 2003 ASM Female Athlete of the Year Award winner is Jamie Whitmore (second on right), the Xterra Pro Points Series winner and Xterra World Championship runner-up. Whitmore, 27, of Elk Grove, California, dominated the Xterra circuit in 2003, winning all three USA regional titles, the USA Championship and international races in Saipan, Germany, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic. She narrowly edged out Danelle Ballengee, a member of Team Nike ACG/Balance Bar, who also posted strong snowshoe racing and trail running finishes. Rebecca Rusch (Team Montrail), Melanie McQuaid (Xterra World Champion), Jenny Tobin (adventure racing and Xterra star), Monique Merrill (Team Balance Bar, mountain running and mountain biking champ) and Robyn Benincasa (Team Earthlink) were the other women's finalists.
The 2003 ASM Male Athlete of the Year Award winner is Kloser (lower right), a 44-year-old endurance phenom from Vail, Colorado. In a 20-year career filled with numerous lofty accomplishments, Kloser arguably had his best year yet. Not only did he anchor Team Nike ACG/Balance Bar, he also won an assortment of multi-sport races as a soloist: Adventure Xstream in Breckenridge, Colorado, Mount Taylor Winter Quadrathlon in Grants, New Mexico and Mountain Quest Winter Triathlon Series in Colorado. He also placed seventh in the North American Snowshoe Championship (the most competitive snowshoe race outside of Europe) a few hours after winning an uphill race on skate skis.
The runner-up for the top male athlete was Conrad Stoltz, who won the Xterra Pro Points Series and the Xterra USA Championship. Other finalists included Team Montrail's Patrick Harper, Xterra atheltes Josiah Middaugh (also the U.S. snowshoe racing champ) and Justin Thomas, and Nike ACG/Balance Bar's Adamson and Tobin.
Congratulations to the winners and finalists, and thanks for pushing the limits. Here's to another great year of racing for everyone in 2004!
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