Haydenettes Coach Lynn Benson Named USFSA/PSA Coach of the Year

U.S. Figure Skating and the Professional Skaters Association (PSA) have announced the winners of the annual coaching awards presented by the two organizations at the 2003 PSA International Conference in Stamford, Conn., May 24.

Coach of the Year Lynn Benson with the Haydenettes at the 2003 U.S. Synchronized Team Skating Championships.
2003 USFSA/PSA Coach of the Year - Lynn Benson (Lexington, Mass.)

Longtime synchronized team skating coach Lynn Benson was selected as Coach of the Year for her work as head coach of the U.S. champion Haydenettes synchronized team skating program. Benson becomes the first synchronized skating coach to ever receive the Coach of the Year award.

The Coach of the Year award is presented to a coach who has made a significant impact on an athlete(s) performance and has distinguished themselves through years of successful teaching culminating in a special career achievement during the past year.

"To be recognized as the USFSA and PSA's Coach of the Year is truly an honor, and I believe, a testament to synchronized skating becoming mainstream and one of the most exciting events in sport today," Benson said. "Synchronized skaters have become skating's most versatile competitive skaters and train in all aspects of skating, including moves in the field, freestyle, ice dance and more recently, elements of pairs skating have been introduced into synchronized programs. My winning this award is recognition of the unique skills of synchronized coaches' abilities to draw from all of skating's disciplines and weave the best technical and artistic elements into exciting and risky programs with not one or two, but 20 skaters on ice."

Based in Lexington, Mass., Benson has guided the success of the Haydenettes since their inception in 1979. During that time, Benson's Haydenettes have claimed a record 13 U.S. senior titles and have represented the U.S. at the World Synchronized Skating Championships four times including a fifth-place finish this season. In addition to the senior team, Benson coaches the Ice Mates, the 2003 U.S. novice synchronized champions.

Benson has also served as a leading developer of the sport in the U.S. and worldwide, serving on the USFSA's Synchronized Management Subcommittee and the ISU Synchronized Skating Coaches Commission.

2003 USFSA/PSA Developmental Coaches of the Year - Mark Mitchell and Peter Johansson (Wellesley, Mass.)

The successful coaching duo of Mark Mitchell and Peter Johansson were named Developmental Coaches of the Year. Operating out of the Skating Club of Boston, Mitchell and Johansson's students saw success on all levels at the 2003 State Farm U.S. Figure Skating Championships.

The Developmental Coach of the Year award recognizes a coach or coaches who have established a career of helping athletes develop to higher levels of the sport and as human beings. Nominees must never have coached a U.S. champion and are recognized for their work with skaters below the senior level.

This season, Mitchell and Johansson oversaw the development of 2003 U.S. junior champion Erica Archambault; 2003 U.S. novice bronze medalist Jessica Houston; Scott Smith, who finished fourth in the senior men's competition; Jason Wong, who finished fifth in the junior men's event; and Melanie Drogseth and Juliana Cannarozzo, who finished 1-2 in intermediate ladies at the 2003 U.S. Junior Championships.

Prior to his coaching career, Mitchell was a successful singles competitor, claiming three medals at the U.S. Championships and representing the U.S. at the World Championships from 1992-93, placing fifth and fourth respectively. Mitchell is also a current member of the USFSA Executive Committee where he serves as an athlete representative and is the chair of the Athletes Advisory Committee.

2003 Paul McGrath Choreographer of the Year - Tom Dickson (Colorado Springs, Colo.)

For the second year in a row, Tom Dickson was awarded with Choreographer of the Year honors for his work with a number of national and international competitors. His most notable student this past year was 2003 U.S. bronze medalist and U.S. World Team member Ryan Jahnke. Dickson also works with former World Junior champion Ann Patrice McDonough, who placed fourth at the 2003 U.S. Championships, and choreographs programs for a number of other athletes, including former U.S. medalist and World Team member Matt Savoie.

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