Park City's Dawson makes Olympic debut with jet-lag and borrowed blades

2022 Beijing Olympics - Speed Skating - Men's 1500m - National Speed Skating Oval, Beijing, China - February 8, 2022. Casey Dawson of the United States in action. (Fabrizio Bensch, Reuters)

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BEIJING — When American speed skater Casey Dawson lined up for his 1,500-meter race at the Beijing Olympics on Tuesday, he was jet-lagged and wearing someone else's blades.

In the end, even finishing a lowly 28th seemed quite an achievement.

"It was quite the experience just to get to the line," he said. "I didn't think I'd get here in the first place."

Dawson's bizarre journey to the Winter Games started with a positive COVID-19 test three weeks ago.

The Park City native tested negative last Tuesday and believed he had the all-clear because he could produce the two consecutive negative tests required by the Beijing Olympic organizers.

That was until the U.S. Olympic Committee said he had to test negative four times to travel. As a result, he missed his first race, the 5,000 meter.

"It was up and down. Once I got a negative test I was riding high, but when I got a positive test I would be on the ground crying and I just didn't think I would get here in the first place," he said.

"I've taken 45 PCR tests over the past couple of weeks just to test negative."

When he had finally recorded the negative tests he needed, he had to travel for almost 24 hours, flying from the United States via Paris before arriving in Beijing at 6:50 a.m. on race day.

But even that was not the end of his trials. His luggage, containing his skating blades, had not arrived with him.

He ended up borrowing the blades of Latvian skater Haralds Silovs to make it to the start line of the 1,500m, saying he "couldn't be more grateful."

Whether or not his luggage finally caught up with him was beside the point.

"If I get my luggage or not — I'm still an Olympian," he said. "I couldn't be happier just to be skating in the Olympics."


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