Dawson golden at Worlds
RUKA, Finland Vail’s Toby Dawson, who didn’t have a start spot in dual moguls coming into Worlds, won the duals gold medal Sunday, while defending champion Jeremy Bloom took bronze in the final event of the 2005 FIS Freestyle World Ski Championships. U.S. skiers collected five medals, including three golds, at the Championships. Dawson, who replaced newly crowned moguls champion Nate Roberts when he decided to sit out the finale, defeated Finland’s Sami Mustonen while Bloom topped another Finn, Mikko Ronkainen. It was the third moguls gold medal for U.S. skiers, following the moguls sweep Saturday by Roberts and Hannah Kearney. “This was an awesome way to end the Championships,” said U.S. head coach Jeff Wintersteen. “None of them had a great moguls event (Saturday), so they were all hungry, and there was such good intensity. It was just awesome. … And ‘Awesome’ (Dawson) really was awesome.”The two medalists flipped their positions from two years ago when the World Championships were staged before big crowds at Utah’s Deer Valley Resort when Bloom was gold medalist and Dawson took bronze. (In those Championships, Bloom also was silver medalist in moguls and Dawson took bronze.)
‘Only one medal this time'”Only one medal this time, but I turned those bronzes into gold,” said Dawson, who was born in South Korea but adopted as a youngster by a Vail ski instructor. “I did a heli-X (360-degree rotation with his skis tucked up under him) and a cork-7 (off-axis, double spin) off the bottom all day. Just about all the others were doing straight-up jumps at the bottom,” he said. “So, I thought that’d help catch the judges’ eyes.”Dave Babic tied for ninth with Travis Cabral tied for 17th. In the women’s duals, which was won by Canadian Jennifer Heil as she defeated defending champion Kari Traa of Norway, Laurel Shanley was eighth with Jillian Vogtli tied for ninth and Michelle Roark tied for 17th. Kearney joined Roberts in sitting out the duals event.
The final foursome, as Wintersteen indicated, was looking to make some amends for Saturday’s disappointment in moguls. Dawson was fifth but Bloom, the World Cup champion after a scintillating streak of six consecutive wins in the last half of the season, slapped back on his second jump and plummeted to 36th; the Finns had been second and third in semis and then dissolved in the final round, Ronkinanen finishing ninth and Mustonen 13th.”It was a really good comp. We were all kind of frustrated after (Saturday), partly because until then we’d all skied so well,” Dawson said. “Sami’s such a good skier, too, so I knew it would be intense.”One champ exits, new champ enters”I didn’t have a duals spot. Because of my injury, I skipped some duals events and didn’t qualify to ski duals here but a spot opened when Nate decided not to ski, and I got it. Thank you, Nate,” Dawson said with a laugh.
Dawson broke a foot a couple of days after winning at Mont Tremblant, Quebec, in January, but was back competing in 10 days and finished third at Deer Valley, Utah, just 13 days after his injury. The injury was frustrating, he said, “because it slowed me down just when I was feeling so strong and healthy at Tremblant.”He had to overcome “a lot of negative thoughts after that, beating up myself mentally because I couldn’t perform to the level I wanted” before refocusing on the positives in his skiing, Dawson conceded. “It was tough, but I got through the season and I’ll be stronger next year because of all that I went through this season.”There’ll be no negative energy going into next season. Everything’s positive.”
‘Good progress’ toward ’06Wintersteen was understandably pleased with the two-medal windup. “The guys really stepped up. Singles hadn’t gone that well and they were hunting for a medal. They wanted a piece of something, so that kind of added to the drama,” he said.”Laurel had a great run against Heil in quarters (quarterfinals) and it could have gone either way. It was that close a call. So, now it’s on to nationals in Park City and the end of the season. It’s been another good one, some good progress toward the Olympics next season.”U.S. skiers are returning to Utah for the final competition of the winter, the Sprint U.S. Freestyle Championships this week at Park City Mountain Resort and Utah Olympic Park.Vail, Colorado