On borrowed skates, Casey Dawson explains his crazy journey to a bronze medal

PARK CITY, Utah — After testing positive for COVID-19 about three weeks before the 2022 Winter Olympics, he took several red-eye flights to make the 12,000-mile trip, lost his luggage in Paris and had to borrow another athlete’s blades before his own. arrived, the Olympic dreams of Casey Dawson, resident of Park City and 21-year-old American speed skater, finally came true after he returned from Beijing with a bronze medal.

Clearly, Dawson’s Olympic experience was one of the most unique this year. Unlike the majority of his teammates, Dawson missed the opening ceremonies and the 5,000m event as he was sidelined in the United States due to positive COVID-19 tests. As questions swirled about whether or not Dawson would make it, he eventually passed four consecutive negative tests and immediately hopped on a plane to Beijing.

“It was almost like the lowest of the lows to the highest of the highs,” Dawson said. “I was definitely not in a good frame of mind until I finally learned that I was going to be going there for the fifteen cents. So I just ran on adrenaline the whole trip. I was gathering everything, my mind and everything, just to get to Beijing and get to the start line of my race because I showed up literally on the day of my first fifteen hundred meter race.

But when Dawson arrived in China, another problem quickly arose. The bags with his blades were stuck in Paris and his first event was only a few hours away. On top of all that, the blades are pretty specific to athlete preferences, but luckily for Dawson, another Olympian was willing to share.

“They found my luggage in the craziest places in the Paris airport, like not even close to getting on the plane to Beijing,” Dawson explained. “They had to hire a task force in Paris to find my bags and locate them and bring them to Beijing.”

“My coach is very good friends with a guy named Harald Silovs from Latvia,” Dawson continued. “He was the only one my coach knew that had the same setup as me, because my setup is very different from most skaters since my boot is a little bit different than a lot of people…my bridge is a lot smaller than everyone else There’s someone else on my team so I had to use their setup, I got to the line, and that was just the most important thing, getting to the line .

Although he crossed the line and competed in the 1,500m event, Dawson admitted that his results were a true illustration of how he felt. Finishing second to last, Dawson was simply running on pure adrenaline and had only been on the ice once before the race for a 20-minute warm-up. Anyway, he just wanted to go to bed.

But all of Dawson’s hard work and sacrifices finally paid off. In the men’s team pursuit, Dawson and Team USA upset the Netherlands in the chase for bronze, winning by an impressive 2.81 seconds.

“It’s surreal. Growing up, you watch these ceremonies and you think, ‘what does it feel like?’ and it might have been a little different for us due to Covid, no one really watched it, but it was still an amazing experience. Just to stand on the podium, among some of the greatest athletes in the world, to see your flag being hoisted, to grab that medal and put it around your neck, it’s just something different and no words can explain how happy you are in that moment,” Dawson says.

Back home, Dawson was able to share his experiences with friends and family. He even got to watch the process loop and return to Park City Ice Arena, but this time he’s the Olympian with a medal around his neck and can mentor budding young athletes.

“I went to the Park City Ice Arena where I started skating and was able to help kids speed skate. Just teaching them the basics of speed skating and all, showing them my Olympic medal, and just seeing the reaction on their face is priceless. Seeing them hold the Olympic medal and say “Oh, that’s so heavy” and everything, it’s kind of cool to go full circle. I was that kid watching the Olympian and holding his medal. Now I can show my medal to the younger generation and inspire them to keep going,” Dawson explained.

As for the future, Dawson will focus his time on single distances and is aiming for an individual Olympic medal in four years. He hopes to redeem his performance in Beijing and be able to compete rather than missing events, hunting down his luggage and borrowing the skates of other Olympians.

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