Sports

Park City athletes honored at the Utah State of Sport Awards

Dawson, Brewer, Lillis, Caldwell and Schoenefeld awarded during Utah State of Sport ceremony

PARK CITY, Utah — Park City athletes Casey Dawson, Mathew Brewer, Chris Lillis, Ashley Caldwell, and Justin Schoenefeld took top honors at Tuesday’s 12th annual 2023 Utah State of Sport Award Ceremony hosted by the Utah Sports Commission and attended by tennis great John McEnroe.

Governor Cox said in a statement, “It is my honor to host the State of Sport Awards as a platform to showcase the major events, teams, athletes, coaches, and others who have all contributed to making Utah the State of Sport. Sport is the lifeblood of our communities. It brings us together as fans and participants. As fans, we are motivated by the men and women who serve as our sport heroes, inspiring us to fill our playing fields, stadiums and arenas.”

Dawson, of the Park City Speedskating Club, was named Olympic Male Athlete of the Year. 

Dawson almost missed the Beijing 2022 Winter Games; however, the mad dash around the world ended on the podium—despite the 45 PCR tests, lost luggage, and borrowed skates. Dawson used this Olympic bronze medal to catapult his career.

The 5000m national champion won the overall World Cup title for men’s team pursuit three years in a row, setting a world record of 3:33.66 on home ice at Utah Olympic Oval and topping Norway’s previous time by .56 seconds.

At the 2024 ISU Long Track Four-Continents Championships, Dawson skated away with the 5000m gold, his first individual medal on an international stage.

Brewer of the National Ability Center won Adaptive Athlete of the Year.

In the late ’90s, Matthew Brewer was nationally ranked with the United States of America Snowboard and Freeski Association (USASA). His career took a turn when he was diagnosed with cancer, losing both of his legs above the knee.

A chance encounter with ski racer Stephani Victor changed his trajectory. Hearing of her Paralympic success prompted a move to Utah, training with the National Ability Center, and earning the Athlete of the Year award in 2020-21.

In 2022, Brewer was named the Super G national champion, competed in his first Paralympics, and took the NorAm Cup title. Since then, he recorded double wins at the Huntsman Cup and Winter Park Open.

U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s Caldwell, Schoenefeld, and Lillis were awarded the Olympic Team of the Year. 

Mixed aerials have been a part of the FIS Freestyle World Cups since 2014 and World Championships since 2019. In 2022, the event made its Olympic debut at the Beijing Winter Games.

China, the early pacesetters, were the favorites to walk away with gold. Standing in their path to the podium? Best friends Ashley Caldwell, Chris Lillis, and Justin Schoenefeld.

Team USA finished with 338.34 points to claim the first United States Olympic gold medal in aerials freestyle skiing since Nagano in 1998. Lillis’ back double full-full-double full jump received the highest score of any trick in the finals—135.00.

In 2012, the Utah Sports Commission, in conjunction with the Governor, created the State of Sport Awards to celebrate Utah’s sports industry and honor excellence on high school, collegiate, professional, Olympic, and Paralympic levels.

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