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An Olympian in our Backyard: The Story of Speed Skater Casey Dawson

Park City native, Casey Dawson, never imagined his Olympic debut would happen the way that it did.

Let’s start at the beginning.

T-minus 24 hours until the 2022 Beijing Olympic Speed Skating Team Men's pursuit begins. It's the world’s stage, with millions tuning in to see if the U.S. men will medal this year. Adrenaline is already pumping as they wait eagerly for the countdown, but the team faces more than just their opponent on the ice.

U.S. Team member, Casey Dawson, may not race. After testing positive for COVID-19 three weeks earlier, he still hasn’t been cleared. But Casey, who has already missed the men’s 5,000m race and unsuccessfully taken 45 covid tests, clings to the hope that he will make it to the games. 

If you’ve ever competed in a team sport you understand the importance of bearing together to face challenges and uphill battles as one. Without his team, Casey had to overcome his mental and physical hurdles alone, solely pushing through with his unnerving dedication to his sport. 


“I had to train by myself and stay mentally strong and resilient through that time because I knew I belonged at the Olympics,” said Casey. “I was devastated, but I had to keep my head up, and I finally got the go-ahead to leave for Beijing.” 


T-minus 12-hours until his event, Casey touches down in Beijing (without his bag that got lost in transit, we might add). After years of countless sacrifices, relentless commitment, and the grind of twice-a-day practices, would losing his skates and uniform be his undoing?  


“I knew I belonged at the Olympics, so I had to fight for what I knew, and basically could not give up on that dream,” said Casey. “Being at the Olympics was a lifelong dream of mine, and I know it wasn't the experience I wanted, but I still was able to compete, and also get a bronze medal in the heat of it all.”


Not even COVID or skating on borrowed skates could stop Casey from reaching that Olympic podium, with a medal in hand, and his teammates by his side.

Pretty epic, right? When we discovered that Casey lived just around the corner from our HQ, we had to get the inside scoop!

In this Q & A, Casey digs deeper into his experience training to be an Olympian, his passion for his sport, and the nutrition that fuels his epic endeavors. 

Can you share a little about your background and how you got started in your sport?

“I have always been involved in sports in Park City from when I first put on skis at a year old. Ever since then, I went through sporting phases from soccer, and mountain biking, to cross-country skiing. I think my parents and I both knew that most of those were going to be temporary, but when I first tried speed skating at the Park City ice rink something clicked. Overall, I loved the ice the first time I stepped on it, and still have the same love today.” 

What drives you to compete and push your limits?

“The goal of always wanting to achieve more. When I first got into it, I thought Olympians were superheroes just because of how far-fetched the idea was of being at their level. What kept me going at a young age was those superheroes pushing me to step over new boundaries and beat the personal goals I wanted to achieve. Soon those goals got bigger and bigger as I got faster and faster, ultimately, leading me to being the superhero I thought was unimaginable at the time.”  

Can you describe the training regime that goes into training for the Olympics?

“Training for the Olympics is very strategic. We do a lot of hard, cardiovascular work in the summer with a lot of biking and basic training to get a base of good endurance before stepping on the ice in August. We do two workouts a day, usually 5 days a week, so it's a full-time job when you think about it. The Olympics come every four years, so usually the first year after is a lighter year to come down from the Olympic high. The year after we aim to build everything back up a little bit, to get stronger and build a good base. In the third year, we want to be as close to Olympic shape as we can because we know there will most likely be a test event at the venue, so we want to see how our body reacts to that. After that, we train as hard as our bodies can to maintain and build fitness off that to crush it Olympic year!” 

Can you describe the atmosphere of competing on the World’s stage, and maybe some thoughts you had while racing or getting ready to race?

“I think it's crazy how far I've come from my mom taking pictures of me with some of the top professional skaters when I was younger, to now sharing the podium with some of them. I just remember how exciting it was being in the stands watching those competitions, and now I get to experience that electricity of the crowd cheering me on while I skate. Setting the world record on home ice this year has shown me how exciting and inspiring it is to be at this level, and just allows me to see how it feels to be on the other side of things.”  

How important is nutrition in your training regimen? Can you share some insights into your dietary approach?

“Nutrition is very important when it comes to my lifestyle because we train A LOT, so that means we burn a lot of calories. For me, I try to keep it simple, but in an effective way so that I can get through a day without feeling drained at the end of it. With that, I always start with Kodiak pancakes, which I’ve been eating for years starting with my mom making them for me every morning before school, and I haven't stopped eating them since! I feel like they help me fuel my morning workout, whether that is a long bike ride or an ice session, I just feel like it caters to my needs. After that, I snack throughout the day between meals, which includes protein for recovery most of the time. At the end of the day, I try to eat carbs to fuel up for the next day, whether it be for a race or another long training day. Overall, as a long-distance skater, we burn a ton of calories, so I eat a lot of food!” 

Photo Credit: US Speed Skating

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