Dawson more awesome still
EAGLE COUNTY – He’s bracing himself for the onslaught of playful derision he’ll get from his friends in two weeks when his face appears on a box of Frosted Flakes.And then there’s going to be the nationally aired commercial of him tackling a mogul field with Tony the Tiger. That will also call for comment.”It will be funny,” said Toby Dawson, Vail’s premier freestyle skier. “I’ve done the yogurt lids before, but this will be my first cereal box. It’s the ultimate (exposure) and everything, but at the same time, you get all of your buddies giving you a hard time on Email. I haven’t seen (the commercial) yet, but I’m sure Tony the Tiger gets put in there somewhere.”
Dawson, who turns 27 on Nov. 30, doesn’t have much left to accomplish in his ski career. Just a small dose of success in the Winter Olympics this February in Italy, and he might be ready to put his skis away and retire to life on the golf course.”I’ve won World Cups. I’ve won a World Championship. My last goal is to do well in the Olympics, of course,” said Dawson, who was born in South Korea but adopted and raised in Vail, where he was on skis from the time he was a toddler.”I love the sport and all,” he said of moguls competition, “but there are so many other things I want to do.”Even when faced with adversity, Dawson, who won the dual moguls world championship last year despite being on the mend with a broken foot, has proven that he can do just about anything he wants on a moguls course. Over the last few weeks, he has been training harder than he ever has in his life, going to the gym twice a day and “cleaning up some tricks” at Copper Mountain every afternoon.
“I’ve healed up a lot and I’ve trained my butt off this year,” he said. “My skill level is a lot higher even than I anticipated. My turn technique just went through the roof this summer. My jumping has come together. As long as I ski my runs, it should absolutely be no problem.”Leg up, laid up, no matter ..Dawson is carrying a large metal screw around in his left foot, a provision to help it remain stable while enduring the pounding of countless jolts through mogul fields and landing off jumps. He said he can’t even feel it.
“It’s more weird than anything else,” he said. “I’m used to little, minor pains here and there, but now my body feels strong. It’s strange. I can’t concentrate unless there’s something hurting.”Last season, Dawson showed the world that he doesn’t need to be in top condition to land on the podium. Just 14 days after surgery on his broken foot, he won the first run and took third place at the World Cup dual moguls contest in Deer Valley, Utah. He was discouraged by the organizing committee from taking numbing agents, so he simply ate up the pain along with the bumps. It makes one wonder what he’ll be capable of this season when he’s in perfect health.”Winning the first run (at Deer Valley) opened some people’s eyes,” he said. “I basically skied on one foot. With the adrenaline I was pumping and everything else it was … um, pretty miserable still. But you bite your lip and it’s only, you know, 24, 25 seconds. My doctor wasn’t real impressed. But he also knew I wanted to get out there as soon as possible. He did what he could do and put me back together. For about a month, after I’d finish my runs, I’d get back on my crutches.”
Dawson spends every summer doing peer counseling for adopted Korean children in Granby, and has helped globalize freestyle skiing in South Korea, where he has helped organize a World Cup event this season, slated for March 1, following the Olympics. Dawson has six World Cup moguls victories and many more podiums. He barely missed the overall title in 2004. As to taking home an Olympic medal this February, Dawson said he doesn’t set his aspirations specifically on this aim.”My athletic goals are just to ski the way I train,” he said. “I train at such a high level. If I ski the way I train in competition, it should be no problem to be on top of the podium. You start to learn that the way you set your goals up are more on things you can control – how you ski, how you perceive your run – rather than, ‘I’m going to go out and get a medal.’ Those are things you can’t really control. I know for a fact that if I put down an 80-percent run, I’ll probably be somewhere on the podium. Anything above 80, I’ll probably be on the top.”Sports Writer Shauna Farnell can be reached at 949-0555, ext.14632, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Vail, Colorado