'OLYMPICS ARE IT!' FOR DAWSON

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Perhaps a moguls skier's career should be measured in dog years (that's seven years for every one human year). The constant toll on knees and hips as skiers rip through fields of moguls where the average bump is bigger than any mountain in Kansas, and hurl themselves high into the air while performing aerial maneuvers that could end in yard-sale-style crashes, wear down an athlete's body quickly. While football and basketball seasons last a mere six months if the team makes it all the way to the championship game, moguls skiers spend as much as 10 months a year on the snow, pushing their knees, hips and heads to the limit.

In a sport where blown out knees and torn ligaments are the norm, a seven-plus year career (that's more than 49 in dog years, not including the years of hard training to make the U.S. Ski Team), is enough to tear apart even the strongest athletes. Vail's Toby Dawson hasn't just survived over seven seasons on the U.S. Team, but he has made each season better than the last.

Dawson was all smiles at the 2005 World Championships in Ruka, Finland, where he won gold in dual moguls. (Photo by Juliann Fritz)

In 2005, Dawson was crowned dual moguls World champion, adding gold two his collection of two bronze medals at 2003 Worlds. He also garnered his sixth World Cup win in '05. The year before Dawson impressed the competition with three World Cup wins and four other World Cup podiums, ending the 2004 season ranked second in the world.

Like most moguls skiers, Dawson has experienced his fair share of bumps and bruises, including a broken fibula in '04 and a broken foot in '05. The difference between an average moguls skier and Dawson isn't just the World Championships medals; it's pushing through the injuries that would sideline most athletes while excelling towards greatness.

Dawson suffered his broken foot just three days after winning a World Cup competition in Mont Tremblant, Quebec. Ten days later Dawson competed in Utah at Deer Valley and finished third.

"My head was in a good place in that first event back from injury in January," Dawson said. "I would definitely compete so soon again, but I would have prepared myself a little better to face the reality that my body was only going to let me push so hard. It takes time to feel 100 percent again."

Dawson's body seemed to recover just in time to win gold in dual moguls on the final day of the 2005 World Championships in Finland. Consistency was a problem early on in Dawson's career, however Dawson now feels much more confident with his ability to perform at each and every competition no matter the challenge.

"I've gained my consistency by working hard all year long. It makes it so much easier to compete now because I know that I am prepared and that every time I am at the top of the course I have the ability to win."

Toby Dawson and teammate Jeremy Bloom watch for results at a 2004 World Cup in Japan.

Dawson spends most of the year chasing snow around the globe looking for ways to keep preparing. Over the last year Dawson has chased snow in Australia, and Korea and Japan. Even after his recent success, Dawson isn't letting up.

"It's an Olympic year and I need to train constantly." Dawson said of training all over the world prior to the opening of the World Cup moguls season this December.He trained in Australia for four and a half weeks where a duplicate of the Olympic course is built. Two weeks in Korea training on the water ramps and then heading to Europe will finish his "summer tour." Dawson copes with the strain of constant travel by keeping his schedule exactly the same in any part of world.

When not traveling the world in search of snow, Dawson trains at least six days a week. After pumping iron in the gym, Dawson also plays tennis, swims and runs. After pushing his body to the limit six days in a row, Dawson says, "I take Sundays off from the gym and I play golf."

While training and traveling take up the vast majority of Dawson's time, he also volunteers with the Korean Heritage Camp during the summer. He describes his role as" the cool, big brother" who leads kids in games, stories, history lessons and karaoke (although Dawson insists he does not sing).

"I think it [volunteering with the Korean Heritage Camp] has given me a greater appreciation for the [Korean] culture. It has also made me realize how important it is to always give back."

While volunteering, training, traveling, injuries and fame (Dawson will appear on a Kellogg's box and commercial this winter, as well as a Nike commercial) have made life hectic, Dawson still has his priorities focused on bumps and jumps.
"With the Olympics coming up I have been training incredibly hardů. The Olympics are it!" Dawson said enthusiastically as he waits for his next time to shine.

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