Dawson wins Cup event in Italy
“I’m going to sleep,” Dawson said after Saturday’s World Cup freestyle race in Madonna Di Campiglio, Italy. “I haven’t been sleeping so well recently. I don’t know what it is – insomnia or something.”
Dawson, who grew up in Vail, certainly earned a good night’s sleep. He picked up the second World Cup win of his career Saturday by more than a point, a stunning margin. In the process, he’s become the new overall freestyle points leader.
“It’s a relief to prove to yourself that you can do it again,” Dawson said. “I worked out harder during the offseason than I ever did in my life getting ready for the season. Everything paid off.”
Dawson’s last World Cup win came in Himos, Finland, in 2001, at the final World Cup event. What followed was a disappointing 2001-02 season, when Dawson simply couldn’t get on track.
“It was a tough deal last year,” said Dano Bruno of Rossignol, the sponsor’s freeride/freestyle coordinator. “I think he got all the distractions out of his system and now he’s completely focused. From a product standpoint, we made some changes. But he also had a different frame of mind.”
That much was evident as the season started. Dawson served notice with two fourth-place finishes, coming into Madonna Di Campiglio. Dawson finished fifth in the qualifying run Saturday afternoon.
With the temperatures falling for Saturday night’s final run, the conditions were perfect for Dawson.
“It’s was mostly balls-to-the-wall,” Dawson said. “I had been fourth the last two races and I was ready to get on the podium. It was a nothing-to-lose approach.”
The results bear that out. Dawson posted 27.98 points, well ahead of Finland’s Mikko Ronkainen (26.88) and Travis Mayer of the United States (26.81).
“I had a pretty good feeling that the run wasn’t going to get topped,” Dawson said. “It’s just one of those feelings. I had the same feeling when I won in Finland. It was a really good run.”
Word reached the Vail Valley pretty quickly and there was no shortage enthusiasm from Dawson’s fans.
“Did he win? I’m so excited,” said Mom, a.k.a. Debbie Dawson, upon hearing the news. “I didn’t know. Oh, terrific. I’d been wondering. I don’t have access to the Web.
“This is just so great for him. It’s the culmination of what he wanted to do. He never gave up. He’s worked all his life for this. It’s his passion. He loves the sport.”
Dawson’s father, Mike, was out on the hill in Vail, giving ski lessons.
“It’s 10 years of hard work and determination,” he said. “He put the fun back in his skiing this year to deal with all the pressure. He’s been positive and having fun and skiing well. It was just a matter of time.”
Next up for Dawson is a trip home. He’s going to be up in Steamboat Springs at the new Jumps and Bumps School, before rejoining the tour in January.
“This gives me a ton of confidence,” Toby Dawson said. “After three events, I’m the Grand Prix leader so basically everybody’s going to be hunting for my head. I have so much confidence after finishing no worse than fourth in my first three events. That’s pretty unbelievable. On any given day on the men’s tour, 20 guys can win.”
Chris Freud is the sports editor for the Vail Daily. Contact him at (970) 949-0555, ext. 614 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Jeff Shiffrin, with his wife, Eileen, made the Vail area their home decades ago, and together raised Mikaela and Taylor Shiffrin, who was a member of the two-time NCAA Champion University of Denver Ski Team.