Vail’s Toby Dawson is wearing bronze | VailDaily.com

Vail’s Toby Dawson is wearing bronze

Ryan Slabaugh

After a 2001-2002 season where Dawson struggled and failed to make the Olympic team, the 24-year-old added a third-place finish at the Freestyle World Championships in Park City, Utah, Friday to a World Cup win he claimed Dec. 14 in Italy.

“I have my confidence,” said Dawson, who was celebrating the day with his mother, Debbie, and his father, Mike, along with an ex-coach, Mike Kloser, who got Dawson into free-skiing in the mid-80s. “Knowing you can deliver a good run at a high intensity event like this one really helps to put it together and get in a good run, well, it puts you in a great situation.”

Dawson was one of three Colorado natives who landed in the top four of the moguls event, which Finland’s Mikko Ronkainen won to ruin the all-Centennial State sweep of the podium. A large Park City crowd filled the streets wearing American regalia Friday night, celebrating the strong performance by the home team.

Loveland’s Jeremy Bloom won the silver medal, while Steamboat’s Travis Mayer took fourth in the men’s competition, while Denver’s Michelle Roark snagged silver in the women’s contest. The coaches could only sit back and smile after the awards ceremony, even with a Finnish racer wearing gold.

“We’ve been at it with the Finns for a long time,” U.S. head coach Jeff Winterstein said. “But at the end of the day, when you see the American flags next to the names on the leaderboard, that’s pretty rewarding.”

For Dawson, it took a little strategy to podium in the biggest event in freestyle skiing, besides the Olympics. Accustomed to his patented Daffy Iron Cross maneuver, the U.S. Ski Team veteran tried a trick called the Cork 7, landed it and zipped across the finish line. The Cork 7 consists of an off-axis 720 with a slower takeoff, while he usually takes off at high speed, completes a Daffy at 90 degrees, an Iron Cross at 180 degrees, and follows with another 180.

“I decided to throw the out-of-the-ordinary trick,” Dawson said. “I wanted something more exciting and crowd pleasing, something to show off the rest of my skills. I don’t know if it was the smartest move, but I finished third and I’m thrilled.”

By the time Dawson, who was adopted when he was 3 years old and brought to Vail, slid across the finish line, the top-3 spots were filled with red-white-and-blue. That is, until Ronkainen used a combination of speed and maneuvers to drop the field back a notch.

The event will be televised Saturday on NBC at 1 p.m. Mountain Standard Time.

For Bloom, the silver medal was something he’s had his eyes on for some time. While he didn’t win, and he continued to speak angrily about the Park City course, the 20-year-old skied well at the World Championships for the first time in his career.

“Today, I couldn’t be happier,” said Bloom, who missed the first three World Cup mogul events to play football for the University of Colorado. He was vocal about his displeasure for the moguls course during the 2002 Olympics. “I’m not too emotional, but this meant a lot to me today.”

Asked if it compared to his 94-yard touchdown reception in his first college varsity game, he said, “That compares pretty much up there… It’s up there. This was challenging.”

Today, the American team will take on the world again in a duals competition. Dawson will not try the Cork 7 again, he said, but return to his Daffy Iron Cross in hopes of improving on Friday’s result.

“I’m a fast skier and I try to get out ahead and make the other skier catch me,” said Dawson, who also won a World Cup finals event in 2001. “I’m the only skier on the World Cup circuit to do that trick. It’s mine, so I might as well use it.”

Today’s competition will be broadcast by NBC Sunday at 11 a.m. After the World Championships are completed Sunday, Dawson will head to Steamboat Springs for a World Cup competition.

Ryan Slabaugh is a sports writer for the Vail Daily. Contact him at (970) 949-0555 ext. 608 or at rslabaugh@vaildaily.com.