DENVER — Nathan MacKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche, who finished sixth in NHL most valuable player voting last year, and Eagle-Vail’s Mikaela Shiffrin, who won a record 17 times last season on the World Cup ski circuit, will be among those honored at the 56th annual Colorado Sports Hall of Fame Induction & Awards Banquet, set for April 23 at the Hilton Denver City Center (1701 California St.).
At a meeting on Tuesday, the Selection Committee of the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame named MacKinnon the Male Athlete of the Year for 2019 and Shiffrin the Female Athlete of the Year. The Selection Committee also picked Colorado collegiate stars Thomas Staines (Colorado State University-Pueblo track & field) and Lynnzee Brown (University of Denver gymnastics), along with high school honorees Cohlton Schultz (Ponderosa wrestling) and Anna Hall (Valor Christian track & field) as Athletes of the Year. Multi-sport athlete Greg Mark is the recipient of the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame’s 2019 Athlete with Disabilities Award.
MacKinnon, Shiffrin and the other 2019 Athletes of the Year will be honored at the banquet along with the newest Colorado Sports Hall of Fame inductees: Lindsey Vonn, Bob Gebhard, Alonzo Babers, George Gwozdecky, Terry Miller and Erin Popovich. The Colorado Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2020 was selected in October.
MacKinnon, now playing in his seventh NHL season though he’s just 24 years old, racked up a career-high 99 points in the 2018-19 campaign (41 goals, 58 assists), later helping lead the Avs to the second round of the playoffs. And he’s picked up the pace this season, with 58 points as of the end of the 2019 calendar year (24 goals, 34 assists in 40 games). On Jan. 25 in St. Louis, he’ll play in his fourth NHL All-Star Game, this time as a captain. For his 6 1/2 NHL seasons (501 games), MacKinnon has scored 182 goals, with 286 assists.
Shiffrin is certainly no stranger to earning athlete-of-the-year honors from the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame as this will be her fourth go-around (Athlete of the Year for 2014 and Female Athlete of the Year for 2013, ’17 and ’19). And the season that ended in 2019 was her best of the bunch as the Coloradan chalked up a record 17 World Cup victories, three more than Vreni Schneider posted in 1988-89. (And that doesn’t count Shiffrin’s wins in the slalom and super-G in the world championships.) She also became the first skier to claim season-long World Cup titles in the slalom, giant slalom, super-G and overall in a single year. That overall championship was her third straight on the World Cup circuit. The year 2019 also marked the year that Shiffin set the career record for World Cup slalom victories. And recently, Shiffrin checked in at No. 25 on USA Today’s list of the top 50 athletes of the last decade.
Staines, a graduate of Cheyenne Mountain High School in Colorado Springs, won three NCAA Division II national track titles for CSU-Pueblo in 2019 — two individually in the 800-meter run (one indoor and one outdoor) and one while anchoring the ThunderWolves’ distance medley relay team during the indoor season. His performances helped the CSU-Pueblo men to 10th-place team finishes nationally both indoor and outdoor. Overall for his career, the now-senior has won four national collegiate championships in the 800 — two indoor and two outdoor.
Brown claimed the NCAA gymnastics title in the floor exercise as a sophomore, becoming DU’s second individual NCAA Division I national champion, joining Nina McGee (floor title in 2016). Brown posted a 9.95 score for her championship, which came in Fort Worth, Texas. At the 2019 national meet, Brown earned four postseason All-American honors — first team in the all-around and on floor, and second team on bars and beam. Brown’s 39.575 all-around score was a DU record for NCAA nationals. The Pioneers went on to place fourth in the 2019 NCAA Team Final.
Schultz not only won four state high school wrestling titles during his years at Ponderosa, but was rated the No. 1 recruit in the nation pound-for-pound (he’s currently a freshman at Arizona State). In high school, he finished with a 188-2 record, with 152 pins, with his last two state titles coming as a heavyweight. Last year, Schultz was a Greco-Roman Junior World silver medalist and a Senior Greco U.S. runner-up. He earned the national 2019 Dave Schultz High School Excellence Award.
Hall landed four state track & field titles as a senior at Valor Christian, giving her 11 for her high school career. In her final state meet, she won her third straight 100-meter hurdles championship, her second consecutive 300 hurdles title and helped Valor’s 4X200 and 4X400 relay teams land victories. Hall was named Colorado Gatorade Athlete of the Year as both a junior and senior. She set a heptathlon national high school record with 5,847 points at the 2019 Pan American U-20 Championships, and a national high school mark in the pentathlon (4,302 points) at the 2019 USATF Indoor Championships. A Magna Cum Laude graduate from Valor, Hall now competes for the University of Georgia.
Mark has been a competitive athlete for 48 years, making him Special Olympics Colorado’s longest-known participating athlete. He competes in swimming, basketball, softball, volleyball and bocce ball and has earned more than 200 medals. He was one of the first Male Athletes of the Year recognized by Special Olympics Colorado. Mark overcame considerable adversity after growing up with an intellectual disability in the 1950s, being bullied and segregated. Competing in Special Olympics was a major factor in that development. Mark now lives independently, has a job, supports his family and serves as a mentor to other athletes.
Tickets for the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame Banquet are $200 each and Sponsor tables start at $2,500. For additional ticket and table information, please phone the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame (www.coloradosports.org, 720-258-3535). The Colorado Sports Hall of Fame & Museum is located at Gate 1 on the west side of Empower Field at Mile High at 1701 Bryant Street in Denver.
Since its inception in 1965, the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame has inducted 264 individuals, not counting the 2020 class. The first class of inductees featured Earl “Dutch” Clark, Jack Dempsey and former Supreme Court Justice Byron “Whizzer” White. Missy Franklin, Daniel Graham, Todd Lodwick, Tom Southall, Bob Smith and Marv Kay were inducted into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame last April.