Parkite Casey Dawson helps set three junior national speed skating records | ParkRecord.com

Parkite Casey Dawson helps set three junior national speed skating records

Park City speedskater Casey Dawson distinguished himself at the World Junior Speed Skating Championships in Kearns on March 10 and 11. The 17-year-old finished as one of the event's top-10 all-around athletes and helped his team set records in the pursuit and team sprint, as well as setting an all-around record for his aggregated points from a selection of events.

"I wasn't really expecting to break any records there, because it's my first Junior Worlds," he said. "Breaking three junior national records was actually a lot crazier than I expected."

The team, comprising Dawson, William Gebauer, Austin Kleba, Ethan Cepuran and Conor McDermott-Mostowy, seemed strong to Dawson, who was the only crossover on both the sprint and pursuit teams.

"But I feel like we just needed to chisel away and get out the imperfections," he said.

The weekend before, the sprint team (Dawson, Gebauer and Kleba) set a national sprint record at a junior World Cup event, but it wasn't as fast as Dawson thought the team could go.

"We started out a little too hard and died toward the end," he said.

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At the WJSSC, he said, the sprint team skated a more even race, but still faded slightly toward the end, finishing fifth of 10 among the international teams and setting a new junior national record for the U.S. at 1 minute, 22.55 seconds.

The pursuit team (Dawson, Cepuran and McDermott-Mostowy) took fifth overall with a time of 3:52.67.

Through points earned in several events, Dawson placed among the top-10 all-around athletes at the competition, and set a U.S. junior national record of 149,533 points.

"The top 10 was, to be honest, an outside hope of mine," said Tucker Fredricks, former Olympian and long track fast team head coach at the Utah Olympic Oval. He and Sara Bowles of the Park City Speed Skating Club are Dawson's main coaches.

"His first Junior Worlds, wasn't sure what to expect but he competed really well through those two weekends," Fredricks said, referring to the WJSSC and the preceding World Cup event.

The coach said it was one of the strongest teams the U.S. has fielded in a while. That fact, in combination with the event being held at the Utah Olympic Oval, a notably fast track, helped the team earn its records.

Most of the team will compete at the junior level next year, and Fredricks said he is hopeful the team will keep pushing and training hard.

Dawson, who has competed since he was about 10 or 11, and started through the Youth Sports Alliance's Get Out & Play program, said he drew inspiration from another Park City resident — physician and speedskating icon Eric Heiden, who won five gold medals at the 1980 Winter Games in Lake Placid, New York.

"When I first met him, it was definitely a surreal experience," Dawson said, recalling meeting Heiden at an event when he was just beginning to skate. "It was my first experience meeting an athlete like that. It pushed me to skate harder."

Now, he said, his coaches are Olympians, and he's breaking into the next level of his sport.

"They pushed me to go harder than my limit and push harder than the last practice," said Dawson.