Dawson aims for fast track to Games | VailDaily.com

Dawson aims for fast track to Games

Shauna Farnell
AP file photo Vail's Toby Dawson of Vail takes to the air during his winning run in the World Cup moguls event last season at in Mont Tremblant, Quebec. Dawson broke his foot a few days later, but went on to take third in the following World Cup contest in Deer Valley, Utah. Then he won the dual moguls world championship. Dawson will be competing against his fellow U.S. freestylers at Steamboat Springs Friday for a wildcard spot on the 2006 U.S. Olympic Team.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS – Toby Dawson will probably make the U.S. Olympic Team to compete this February in Torino, Italy. But instead of relying on his World Cup results, he’d rather just step onto the team automatically with a win at the Freestyle Olympic Trials in Steamboat Springs on Friday.”I’d like to get the qualifier out of the way,” said Dawson, who was born in Seoul Korea and lived in an orphanage before being adopted by Vail ski instructors.Dawson won the dual moguls World Championship Dual Moguls contest last season, just weeks after breaking his foot. There have been two World Cup moguls contests so far this season. Dawson finished ninth on Dec. 13 in Tignes, France, and seventh Dec. 18 in Oberstdorf, Germany. During his holiday break at home, Dawson joined a Team Summit training camp at Keystone and feels ready to charge on Friday, when he’ll be competing against his own U.S. teammates for an Olympic wildcard spot. “I am very comfortable with my ski level right now,” said Dawson during a teleconference on Tuesday. “I’m excited for the rest of the season. I’m trying to savor the moment. Steamboat is well-known for a lot of fan-base for freestylers, so it should be fun.”

No fear of airDawson’s token trick on the moguls course is his off-axis cork 720, with which he usually adds a mute (left ski) grab. Never having had a fear of short-term flight, 27-year-old Dawson has been perfecting his off-axis (wherein one’s feet are higher than one’s head) tricks on a trampoline and on his skis since he was a child. Now that off-axis moves are permitted on the World Cup and in the Olympics (they weren’t in 2002), Dawson is well-researched in air time. He feels that events such as the Winter X Games have done well to progress the sport of freestyle skiing.”Traditionally, we did tricks with feet below,” Dawson said. “(Off-axis) is a strong suit for me. We do a lot of water ramp training, jumping on trampolines and jumps in the swimming pool, so we have a lot of air-awareness.”

Dawson said that in moguls contests, 25 percent of judging is based on speed down the course, 25 percent is based on airs off of the jumps and 50 percent is based on turns and the line chosen down the course. Despite having landed a handful of World Cup podiums in 2001, Dawson missed out on the 2002 Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, Utah. At that time, the mystique of the event and the process to get there grated on him. Relaxed and off-axis”There was a lot of pressure in qualifying and I psyched myself out with that whole process,” he said. “Now that I’ve been through it all, I know that all of those things are very external.”

Going into the 2006 Games, Dawson not only feels more relaxed, but he views it as just another one of several opportunities to compete against the best in the world, as he does every season on the World Cup circuit.”I don’t feel as excited or nervous as going into the last Olympics,” Dawson said. “This time I’m just picking my way through each event and each day. Everything is feeling pretty strong.”The Olympic moguls qualifier final takes place at 11 a.m. Friday at Steamboat and is followed by an Olympic aerials qualifying competition at 6:15 p.m. Both will be aired on NBC at 12:30 p.m. Saturday.Sports Writer Shauna Farnell can be reached at 949-0555, ext.14632, or sfarnell@vaildaily.com.Vail, Colorado

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