Olympic medals are great, but Canadian skier Jack Crawford says he has more to achieve

The question seems to catch Jack Crawford off guard for a split second.

“The medal?” he asks, referring to the Olympic bronze the Canadian earned in the alpine medley in February in Beijing.

In fact, the question was about “the medal”. Where does Crawford keep it?

“I don’t know. It’s with my parents. I don’t know. I wouldn’t really say the medal, it’s great. It means a lot to me. But I think the experience is more my speed.” he answers.

It turns out that the velocity itself is also the Crawford velocity. The 25-year-old from Toronto excels in alpine skiing’s two fastest events, super G and downhill, finishing fifth in the former and 16th in the latter in last season’s World Cup overall standings.

Both disciplines will be put to the test at the 2022-23 season-opening World Cup in Lake Louise, Alta., which begins Friday and ends Sunday. Live streaming of the entire event will be available on CBCSports.ca, the CBC Sports app, and CBC Gem.

Crawford enters the campaign with a new set of challenges, including a starting number towards the front of the pack. He also means a target on the back after he finished fourth in the downhill and sixth in the super-G at the Olympics, plus bronze in the alpine medley (which adds a downhill run and a slalom run).

Ever the competitor, Crawford said it’s the downhill that he’s been with for most of his three Olympic races.

“I did a race that could have won the race and unfortunately the weather was not on my side that day. So it definitely, definitely hurts a bit because if I think about the start number or do a different lap, all of a sudden it’s a completely different day,” he said.

Still, Crawford said that ultimately his goal in every race is to post a winning time, even if the result doesn’t follow. In a solitary sport like downhill skiing, the opponent tends to be the watch more than other runners. Meanwhile, his eyes are on the world championships in February and winning medals on lauded hills like Kitzbühel.

CLOCK | Crawford takes silver at the World Cup in March:

Canadian Jack Crawford takes second place in the World Cup Men’s Super G in Kvitfjell

Toronto’s Jack Crawford finished second in the World Cup men’s super-g in Kvitfjell, Norway.

Alpine Canada sprint coach John Kucera, whose first World Cup victory as an athlete came in the 2006 Lake Louise super-G, said the next step for Crawford is consistency.

“Showing those kinds of high-level performances that he was able to put through the Olympics and the end of the year more consistently from the start,” Kucera said. “And if he does that? Everything else will take care of itself.”

Crawford will benefit from his early start number, the result of his strong finish last year, giving him fresher snow and more predictable weather alongside other podium contenders. He set the fastest time in downhill training on Tuesday.

“When we’re up against a sport that has as many variables as ours and races are decided by hundreds of seconds, all of those things matter,” Kucera said.

“It’s a whole different set of nerves,” Crawford explained. “When you start from the back, it’s still like you’re trying to break in. People don’t think, ‘Oh, this guy deserves it.’ It’s like, ‘Oh, he could be good.’ Now it is, ‘He should be.'”

Between the bronze medal and the improved start number, Crawford will certainly now be viewed differently by opponents. But he said the reality hasn’t fully sunk in yet.

“I think it’s crazy. It’s something I’ve always dreamed of. But I think I have a lot more than I think I’m capable of, and hopefully I have a couple more Olympics to add to that.” [bronze medal],” he said.

“It’s just in our sport, there’s so much you can win and that’s just a small mark, but until there’s a golden one, I think it’s going to stare me in the face a bit.”

Crawford earns his bronze medal from the alpine medley at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. (Alex Pantling/Getty Images)

End of the line?

While the Lake Louise World Cup marks the beginning of the alpine ski season for some, it can also feel like an end.

That’s because the future of the event itself is in doubt. The women, whose trip to Lake Louise is a week after the men, do not have a World Cup in Canada on the agenda for the 2023-24 season. The men do, but the exact location is still ominously unknown.

“Hopefully this year means a little more just because there will be more people, more friends. And it could be the last. So take advantage of it,” Crawford said.

Kucera said that beyond his personal triumph at Lake Louise, the site is important because many Canadian skiers got their start there, from training to the lower-level NorAm circuit.

“[Lake Louise is] very picturesque and everyone always likes to come there.

I don’t know where these things are [stand for] next year, but if this is the last, it sure is bittersweet. And hopefully we can show up as the Canadian team and perform well,” Kucera said.

Other Canadian contenders

Many remember Crawford’s bronze, but two other Canadians, Broderick Thompson and Brodie Seger, also placed eighth and ninth, respectively, in the alpine medley.

Kucera said Thompson, now four years after a serious knee injury, could be ready for a big break. The 28-year-old from Whistler, BC, earned his first World Cup podium finish last season with bronze in super-G in Beaver Creek, Colorado.

“I don’t think he’s found the consistency in what he can really produce and he hasn’t necessarily brought his best game up until the World Cup,” Kucera said. “So I think he’s someone who, if you start to piece together what we’ve been seeing in training, can be quite interesting.”

Seger, the 26-year-old North Vancouver, BC native, who placed fourth in the super-G at the 2021 worlds, is also looking to join Crawford at the front of the pack.

“I think for me, it was a bad year last year, but [Seger] can be really dangerous,” Kucera said.

Jeffrey Read, Kyle Alexander, Trevor Philp and Sam Mulligan complete the Canadian contingent.

Live coverage of the relegation begins on Friday at 2:30 p.m. ET, followed by super-G races in both Saturday Y Sunday at 2:30 p.m. Eastern time.

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