Parkite Casey Dawson heads to the Jr. World Championships of speed skating as a front runner in multiple events
On one end, Parkite Casey Dawson is just your average college student at the University of Utah. A freshman majoring in computer engineering, Dawson is like any other student who’s trying to find a balance between full-time status as a student and hanging out with friends and enjoying the entire college experience.
“I think having a social life is very important because if you just go to college without knowing anyone and stay in your room or off campus, you’re not going to have any fun,” Dawson said. “I was able to go sledding with some of my friends from the dorm the other night, and that was a lot of fun. Finding that balance between is really important.”
But Dawson isn’t like any average college student.
He’s one of the best junior speed skaters in the world, having qualified for the Junior World Championships in Poland from Feb. 21-23.
“Heading all the way over there, I just want to try and win. … Try to get on the podium and just skate technically well so I know that I did as good as I could,” Dawson said. “There are tough conditions in Poland as the ice is pretty much all over the place so I’ll just try to do as best I can with those conditions. I feel as if I have a good plan in place to do well, so it’ll all be about going out there and getting it done.”
Dawson qualified for the World Championships following a dominating performance at 2020 US Junior and Senior National Championships at the end of December in Salt Lake City. Despite being 19 and age-eligible for the junior-level competitions, he is a member of both the junior and senior national speed skating teams, thus allowing him to compete at both levels until he ages out.
In the junior events of the competition, Dawson took home four gold medals (Mass Start, 5000-meter, 1500-meter and 1000-meter) and one bronze medal (500-meter). Dawson also broke the junior “all-around” record for points collected throughout the competition.
In the senior events, Dawson collected two silver medals (10,000-meter and 5,000-meter), staking his claim as one of the better senior-level competitors as well.
“I was expecting to do pretty well at the junior level because most of the past juniors had aged out, so it left me as one of the oldest and more experienced skaters in the competition,” Dawson said. “I’ve also been a part of the senior team the last two years. … So sometimes it gets weird because they’re all traveling to senior competitions and I’m focusing on the junior ones. But they’re really accepting of that, and they treat me the same so it works out.”
Dawson’s journey to speed skating national champion began when he was 10 years old in Park City, stepping onto the ice for the first time as part of the ‘Learn to Skate’ program associated with Ecker Hill Middle School. He had no idea if he would even enjoy skating prior to that first time on the ice, but once his skates were on and he was gliding away, Dawson knew he was hooked.
“I really enjoy every aspect of the sport, especially now, but in the beginning I really enjoyed skating fast with my friends,” Dawson said. “I didn’t know what type of skating I wanted to until I tried speed skating, but I knew I immediately liked skating. What got me hooked in the end was the speed aspect of things, and once I began to go after it, I was all in.”
Knowing how much he loved the sport, and also with the knowledge that is something he wanted to take this extremely seriously, Dawson had to tell his parents. Being the supportive people they are, they fully invested their time into Dawson’s skating career, proving to be just as influential as any of his coaches were, according to Dawson.
He originally began his skating career on the short track, getting “hooked” on to that aspect for a long time before moving on to long track, which he loves and has led him on his current journey.
“Obviously it was a dream of mine as a kid to become really good and just climb the ranks in the sport,” Dawson said. “I never knew how long it would take, or how much effort I would have to put in to get to this level this quickly. … But I guess it does happen to those who work for it.”
Dawson’s immediate goal is to podium at the Junior World Championships, something he’s never done before as his best individual result was a 13thplace finish in last year’s 1500-meter competition.
But following that, Dawson is looking ahead to the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, a competition he believes he’s on track to compete in if he can continue to improve. Sighting his previous experience at the 2018 Olympic trials, Dawson believes he’s not only a much better skater since then, and still getting better, he’s a much different skater mentally as well.
“You can never be too sure what can happen in the next two years, but right now I feel as if I’m on track to have a good fight to get onto that team,” Dawson said. “Back then I was just learning, but now I feel like I can make an impact and truly compete with the best in the world. I’m not that good of a sprinter, like I don’t have the physical body type to do those races because I’m more of a lengthy person. … So I think the 1500-meter and 5000-meter races are more for me.”
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