By Tom Degun

Rick Bower_poses_with_halfpipe_snowboarder_Kelly_Clark_20-06-12June 23 - Rick Bower, the United States snowboarding halfpipe coach, has been named by the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) as the 2011 Olympic Coach of the Year at a special reception during the 2012 National Coaching Conference at the NCAA Hall of Champions in Indianapolis.

During his six seasons as coach of the US snowboarding halfpipe team, Bower (pictured above, left) has played an integral role in advancing women's snowboarding.

Last year was arguably his finest in the role as he led his athletes to 31 major event podiums and took snowboarding to new heights after helping Kelly Clark (pictured above, right) become the first female to land a 1080 in competition.

This achievement, at the pinnacle of snowboarding events for the year, had a monumental influence on up-and-coming female athletes and the progression of women's snowboarding.

For his efforts, Bower was also recognised as the US Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) International Coach of the Year and USSA International Snowboarding Coach of the Year in 2011.

He was one of five coaches to be honoured by the USOC during the 2012 National Coaching Conference.

Paralympic Coach of the Year went to swimming coach Dave Denniston, Developmental Coach of the Year to judo coach James Hrbek, Volunteer Coach of the Year to rugby coach Tom Waga and the Doc Counsilman Science Award to Neal Henderson (pictured below) for applying scientific principles in the laboratory and on the field to improve athlete performance in cycling.

Neal Henderson_20-06-12
"These five coaches have impacted countless athletes throughout their exemplary careers," said Alan Ashley, the USOC chief of sport performance.

"They are shining examples of the team behind the team and their efforts have encouraged athletes of all levels to strive for excellence."

The five coaches were honoured after the National Governing Bodies selected their 2011 Coaches of the Year as part of the USOC Coach of the Year Recognition Programme.

The three finalists in each category were then chosen by a panel of coaching and sport education professionals before a single coach in each category received the award.

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