Korean skier is chosen to promote Olympic bid

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Korean skier is chosen to promote Olympic bid

Toby Dawson, an Olympic freestyle skiing medalist and a Korean adoptee, was named Wednesday as an honorary ambassador for the 2018 Winter Olympics bid by Pyeongchang.

Dawson, 32, is a native of Busan, and his Korean name is Kim Soo-chul. He was adopted by a couple from Colorado in 1982 after getting lost at a crowded Busan market. Dawson, who won a bronze medal in moguls at the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics, was reunited with his biological father in February 2007.

“I’m so happy and so proud to be able to be part of the bid and this process,” Dawson said. “I really think good things are going to happen in the future here in Korea.”

Dawson also served as an honorary ambassador for Pyeongchang’s unsuccessful bid to host the 2014 Winter Olympics. He said he has been impressed with the much-improved venues in Pyeongchang and added that he is looking forward to helping promote the town’s bid.

“It’s a very exciting time for Korea,” Dawson said, “and I think that it’ll be wonderful for Korea to host the Winter Games.”

Dawson arrived in Korea last week and has spent some time with his biological father, Kim Jae-soo, and younger brother, Hyun-chul.

“[Korea] is an amazing place. It’s my motherland. It’s a real special moment to be able to come back to Korea and enjoy the people and the culture,” Dawson said.

A documentary is also in the works on the life and career of Dawson, and the former skier has been filmed touring Pyeongchang and potential Olympic venues. His press conference on the honorary ambassadorship will also be featured in the documentary.

Dawson said “a big portion” of the documentary will be centered on Pyeongchang’s bid because of his background and heritage as a Korean-born Olympian.

“That has so much meaning to me [as far as] what my life was and how I’ve grown up,” Dawson said. “And so we’re going to definitely use this as a big part of the story for the Winter Olympic bid for Pyeongchang.”

Oh Ji-cheol, a vice chairman of the bidding committee, said that unlike in previous bids, Pyeongchang will try to capitalize on star power of Olympic medalists.

“That Dawson has overcome a lot of adversity and become a global star is in line with what we’re trying to do in our third bid after some failures,” Oh said. “We’re counting on Dawson to serve as an important member of our bidding process.”

Other honorary ambassadors for Pyeongchang include Kim Yu-na, the gold medalist in ladies’ figure skating at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics; Lee Seung-hoon, who won the men’s 10,000-meter speed skating race at the Vancouver Games; and Hwang Young-jo, the men’s marathon champion at the 1992 Barcelona Summer Olympics.

The host city will be decided at the IOC General Assembly in Durban, South Africa, on July 6. Korea has never before hosted the Winter Olympics.

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