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Mogul skiers focus on doing their best, not only results

Feb 13,2017
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From left, Seo Jee-won, Seo Jung-hwa and Toby Dawson, coach of the Korean mogul ski team, pose for a photo after the moguls event at the FIS Freestyle Ski World Cup at Phoenix Snow Park in Pyeongchang, Gangwon on Saturday. [YONHAP]
Toby Dawson, the coach of the South Korean national mogul ski team, may not be an easy person to talk to when his athletes are on the slopes.

That’s because he is busy talking to the skiers and motivating them. Dawson, who has been coaching South Korea since 2011, also doesn’t like reporters speaking to his skiers during the competition because he thinks that can distract the athletes.

After all, the 38-year-old coach only thinks about the skiers showing their best performances in the race without feeling pressure.

“I think athletes feel stressed because there’s always been a big push for the PyeongChang Olympics,” Dawson told Yonhap News Agency after the end of the moguls competition at the International Ski Federation (FIS) Freestyle Ski World Cup in Pyeongchang, Gangwon, some 180 kilometers (112 miles) east of Seoul, on Saturday.

The FIS World Cup is one of the test events for the PyeongChang Winter Olympics. Dawson said the South Korean skiers should have learned many things from the competition at Phoenix Snow Park, the venue for freestyle skiing and snowboard events at the upcoming Olympics.

“We’ve shown some good potential, and it definitely looks like we’re on track … trying to do really well for the PyeongChang Olympics,” said Dawson, the bronze medalist in moguls at the 2006 Turin Winter Games for the United States. “I think it’s exciting for them at least to be able to be with all these fans in their home country. It will be a good experience for them to prepare for the next Olympics.”

Five mogul skiers represented South Korea at the World Cup and among them, Seo Jung-hwa produced the most meaningful result.

Seo finished sixth in women’s moguls, the best World Cup finish by a South Korean female freestyle skier. Previously, Lee Mee-hyun, who competes in slopestyle, had the best result at a World Cup with a seventh-place finish in Italy last month.

Seo also broke her personal best World Cup finish. She finished ninth in Canada last year.

Dawson said Saturday’s result should have served as a confidence boost for Seo, who will be making her third Olympic appearance at home next year.

“It’s going to be especially gratifying for her because she’s been struggling with the bottom air,” he said. “She’s going to find some new level of confidence, and I feel like with her skiing, she can open the door and possibly compete against those top girls now.”

Other than Seo, South Korea saw men’s mogul skiing hopeful Choi Jae-woo finish in 10th, but three other skiers were eliminated in the qualification round.

Dawson, however, said he doesn’t push the skiers for good results.

“We don’t talk about results on the team,” he said. “We just talk about skiing well, and skiing your best. You do your best then results will follow.”

With the Olympics just one year away, Dawson said his team doesn’t have special plans - only to train hard as usual. But these days, the team is especially focusing on its mentality.

“We have to do a lot of mental work to make sure that athletes are confident with themselves and able to get rid of the distractions so that they can go out there and do what they are good at,” he said. “Hopefully, we get some good results for PyeongChang next year.”

Dawson was born in Busan but was adopted by an American couple from Colorado in 1982 after getting lost from his biological parents at a crowded Busan market. The 2005 world champion in dual moguls previously served as an honorary ambassador for the 2018 Winter Olympics bid by PyeongChang.

YONHAP