In an op-ed piece published In The Salt Lake Tribune last August, Mia Vinding criticized The Tribune’s 2018 list of the 25 Most Influential People in Utah Sports. She cited the absence of athletes, particularly in Winter Olympic sports, and of women in important positions.
The Tribune this year invited the Rowland Hall senior, a high school track and field athlete and competitive Nordic skier, to compile her own list of figures who deserve greater awareness for their influence in Utah and beyond.
“By continuously reporting on the same athletes and sports teams, we perpetuate a lack of knowledge about other communities and cultures that I believe we have a responsibility to fix,” she wrote. “With this list I hope to continue a dialogue around these incredible, under recognized athletes and coaches. Each of these incredible people deserves to be on this list no more or less than any others, and they’re all influential in different ways.”
Mia’s List in some cases crosses over with The Tribune’s 2019 rankings; her selections are in alphabetical order.
When she qualified at age 17, Biney became the first female African American speedskater to make the U.S. Olympic team. Before attending the University of Utah, Biney had moved from Virginia to Utah to train before the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang. The native of Ghana won the 500-meter short track event in the Olympic trials in Kearns.
Utah native Angel Collinson is a professional free-skier who regularly stars in Teton Gravity Research ski films that showcase her talent in treacherous conditions including “Almost Ablaze” (2014), “Paradise Waits” (2015), “Rogue Elements” (2017) and “All In” (2018). A two time free-skiing world champion, Collinson was the first woman to have an opening or closing segment in a ski or action sports movie, earning her awards such the “Best Line” award at the Powder Magazine annual industry awards in 2016 (as the first female recipient) and Freeskier magazine’s Skier of the Year in 2015. Collinson uses her platform to draw attention to climate issues and solutions.
After going viral in her 2012 You-Tube football highlight reel, Gordon is now at the center a lawsuit that aims to create girls high school tackle football programs in Utah. After winning the inaugural NFL game changer award in 2017, Gordon was featured in Nike’s “Dream Crazier” and the NFL 100 Super Bowl advertisements and was featured on a Wheaties box (the first female football player so honored). Sam Gordon and her father also founded the Utah Girls Tackle Football League, with over 460 players participating last year.
In 2013, when women finally won the right to compete in ski jumping in the Olympics, one of the Winter Olympics’ most traditional sports, Park City native Sarah Hendrickson and her American teammates were considered some of the best in the world. At 17, Hendrickson won the first women’s ski jumping world championship. Wearing bib No. 1, she also had the honor of being the first ever woman to ski jump in the Olympics in Sochi in 2014. After four knee injuries between 2014 and ’18, she needed extreme tenacity to even compete in Pyeongchang in 2018. She was the top American in the event.
In his first year as the University of Utah’s director of skiing, Fredrik Landstedt coached the combined men’s and women’s Alpine and Nordic teams to an NCAA championship, the 13th title in school history.
Marsden recently retired as the co-head coach of Utah gymnastics after being a member of the Red Rocks’ coaching staff since 1985. Gymnasts coached by Marsden have won 11 NCAA titles and she has helped the Utes win six national titles. Utah is the only program to finish in the top three in every Pac-12 meet.
Having coached the BYU women’s volleyball team since 2015, Olmstead has led the Cougars to four West Coast Conference titles in four years and posted a 118-13 overall record. Olmstead was also the only female head coach in the 2018 NCAA Final Four. Olmstead was named the American Volleyball Coaches’ Association National Coach of the Year in 2018, and her team was the No. 1 offensive team in the country last season, winning 90 of 104 sets played. Olmstead was named the 2018 West Coast Conference Coach of the Year and the 2018 AVCA Pacific South Region Coach of the Year. She coached the U.S. Collegiate National Team that recently competed in Japan.
Rockwood has coached BYU women’s soccer since 1995. She posted a a 13-5-1 record in 2018, when she became a three-time West Coast Conference Coach of the Year in 2012, 2014 and 2018. Rockwood has won six WCC titles in seven years.
The captain of Utah Royals FC, Sauerbrunn is is an Olympic gold medalist, a backbone for the defense of the U.S. National Team and a recent World Cup champion.
After three years of competing for the Utah gymnastics team, Skinner collected two NCAA individual-event titles and seven Pac-12 championships. The 2016 Olympic alternate is pursuing a berth on the 2020 U.S. team, deferring her senior year at Utah and intending to return to school in 2020-21.