SOCHI, Russia — Kate Hansen won an unexpected honor on the eve of the 2014 Olympic Games.

The California native who attends BYU was named the USOC’s January athlete of the month. Paralympic snowboarder Mike Shea, also of California, was the male athlete of the month, while ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White were the team of the month.

Hansen earned the honor with her first World Cup win on Jan. 25. It was the first women’s skeleton gold in 17 years. She heads into the Olympics ranked seventh in the world.

The award is chosen when each national governing body nominates one male and one females per discipline. Then a panel selects the winners with online fan voting.

TODD LODWICK HONORED

Six-time Olympian and 2010 silver medalist Todd Lodwick talked with media about being named the U.S. flag bearer for the Parade of Nations in Friday night’s opening ceremony.

For the first time, the Nordic combined athlete revealed that shortly after he won his spot on the team in Dec. 28’s team selection race, he suffered a severe shoulder injury that threatened his ability to ski.

“I’m back to 90 percent of where I was and it’s not going to be an issue,” he said.

When asked if he could hold the flag’s weight, he didn’t hesitate.

“I’m going to carry that thing with pride,” he said.

He shared memories of his first games at age 17 in Nagano, Japan, and said he’s always cherished his Olympic moments.

“Instead of 10 steps all at once, I’m going to take one at a time and really take in these Olympic Games.” Lodwick finished fourth in Vancouver’s individual event after helping the team earn silver.

KEARNEY QUALIFIES WITH BEST MOGULS RUN OF THE DAY

Vermont native and defending Olympic gold medalist Hannah Kearney sits in first place after Thursday’s qualifying run. She earned a score of 23.05, while Canada’s Chloe Dufour-Lapoint was second with 22.64. Her sister, Justine, was third and U.S. skier and Park City resident Eliza Outtrim finished fourth.

The women will compete Saturday night at Rosa Kutor Extreme Park for Olympic medals.

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