Team USA with Casey Dawson, Ethan Cepuran and Emery Lehman skate during the men's team pursuit quarterfinals during the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 on Feb. 13, 2022 in Beijing.
BEIJING — On Sunday at the “Ice Ribbon,” Team USA’s Ethan Cepuran, Emery Lehman and Casey Dawson laid down the gauntlet.
Skating in the third quarterfinal of the speedskating team pursuit at the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022, the trio notched the second-fastest time of the day: 3:37.51, just four hundredths of a second behind powerhouse Norway, the Olympic record holder.
“Our strength is not only in the three of us, but it’s in all four of us,” Cepuran, 21, said, including Joey Mantia in the group. “We’re a team. We train together every single day. We’re not three of the strongest skaters in the world, but together, we are one of the strongest teams in the world, and we saw that today.”
Cepuran, along with Lehman and Mantia, heaved sighs of relief when Dawson finally arrived in Beijing on Feb. 7, after complying with COVID-19 protocols.
The 21-year-old from Park City, Utah, competed in the 1,500-meter just 13 hours after touching down in Beijing, fueled by “pure adrenaline.” He raced in borrowed blades; his bags did not arrive on the same flight. Luckily, they resurfaced prior to the quarterfinal.
“I finally got my blades back, I got some new clothes on me, so I’m ready to go for these upcoming races,” Dawson said. “The (quarterfinal) race felt fine. I felt really connected with my team, I’m getting (used to) skating on this ice, and just getting ready for the semis and the finals coming up on Tuesday.”
Since team pursuit was added to the Winter Games in 2006, the U.S. men have won a single medal, silver in 2010. Here are five reasons why Cepuran, Lehman, Dawson and Mantia like their chances to claim another one on Tuesday:
They Have The Strategy
In early December, the U.S. team of Mantia, Lehman and Dawson set a world record (3:34.47) for the eight-lap, 3,200-meter race at the world cup in Salt Lake City. They did it by “pushing” — having the same skater remain in front for all eight laps, while his two teammates pushing him forward.
“Obviously, it’s about being able to lift each other up,” Cepuran said. “We just mimic each other. Emery can skate behind Casey, and know exactly when he is going to push, when he is going to lay back. I can follow Emery, and three skaters look like one, and we just become one unit instead of three individual units out there.”
Want to follow Team USA athletes during the Olympic Games Beijing 2022? Visit TeamUSA.org/Beijing-2022-Olympic-Games to view the competition schedule, medal table and results.