Casey Dawson first dabbled in speedskating back in elementary school. He’d signed up for a Youth Sports Alliance (YSA) Friday afternoon “Get Out and Play” program. And it stuck. First, it was the speed that hooked him; then, Olympian-and-coach Catherine Raney-Norman introduced him to Long Track, and they started commuting to the Olympic Oval in Kearns. Pretty soon, he found out he was good at it. Really good.
Flash-forward a decade. Hot off a gold in the 10,000 meters at the 2021 National Championships, a 21-year-old Dawson is speeding toward his dream: the Beijing Olympics. For now, his focus is simply “skating how I know I can skate.” For the self-proclaimed “endurance guy” and “logical thinker,” the pandemic may have thwarted international competition for a season, but it also gave Dawson a chance to focus on fine-tuning his technique. That may just be the edge the 2020 Junior World Championship bronze medalist needs when returning to the international circuit and facing the guys-to-beat from Sweden, the Netherlands, Russia, Japan, Korea, and beyond.
Dawson’s preferred distances are 5,000-meter and 10,000-meter events, but he also secured the U.S. record in the 3,000 meters just before his U.S. Championships podium last spring. To achieve such feats requires discipline, stamina, and exactitude. After all, long track skaters reach speeds of 30 to 35 mph, while holding a squat for roughly 12 minutes as they perch on 18-inch long, millimeter-wide blades.
Local go-to eats: Alberto’s and Ritual Chocolate (cycling stop)
Favorite international locale: Trentino, Italy
Favorite training snack: Peanut butter power balls (peanut butter, oats, honey, chocolate chips)
Pets: Carly the Labrador and Frosty the cat
Pre-event rituals: Skates go on in a certain order. Right skate first, don’t tie it. Then, left skate on and tie it. Then, tie right skate.
Other interests: Biking, hiking, camping, photography, studying computer engineering
Park City raised since birth
Little-known tidbit: His dad, Mike, sometimes trains with the team.
“You have to be precise in your movements. You have to know how to put the pressure into the ice,” Dawson explains. “You can’t just skate on top of the ice. You have to use your body weight. It looks easy from the outside, but it’s an especially challenging sport in that aspect.”
In his early days, he “played around” with other sports while attending Park City High School. Now a computer engineering student at the University of Utah, an avid cyclist, and a photographer, this “tech geek” with a serious talent for speedskating somehow balances it all.