Crawford relishes Junior Worlds silver 

WMSC skier strong in the rain in Sochi

click to enlarge PHOTO COURTESY OF ALPINE CANADA - World class Canadian Jack Crawford (left) hit the podium at the FIS Junior World Ski Championships with Matthieu Baillet (centre) and Marco Odermatt (right).
  • photo courtesy of Alpine Canada
  • World class Canadian Jack Crawford (left) hit the podium at the FIS Junior World Ski Championships with Matthieu Baillet (centre) and Marco Odermatt (right).

Jack Crawford hopes to be skiing at the Olympics sooner than later.

For now, tearing up one of its former sites will have to suffice.

The 18-year-old Whistler Mountain Ski Club member led the Canadian contingent at the FIS Junior World Ski Championships in Sochi, Russia last week, taking five top-five finishes, including a silver medal in super-G.

Crawford, who is originally from Toronto, had to slog through some unpleasant conditions as the snow wasn't great and left competitors frustrated at times. Still, he managed to make it through and show what he was worth on a truly international stage.

"It was definitely a tough series. It rained every other day so the conditions were really up in the air. The snow was quite soft due to warm weather and rain. It was just really inconsistent," he said. "It was a very hard race to have a good time at because everything was going wrong other than the results.

"I managed to show up every day and show my place and prove to everybody I could be right there in every single discipline."

The medal helped Crawford jump up to the Canadian national team, but he bolstered his case with a fourth-place finish in a second super-G and fifth-place finishes in slalom, giant slalom and alpine combined.

"I've earned my spot on the Canadian alpine team. Next season, I'll no longer be on the development team, which is really exciting," he said. "The biggest thing is just knowing that next year I have a good shot at getting into World Cups. It's exciting to know that I'm one of the top U21 racers in the world."

Crawford made his World Cup debut in Kitzbuhel, Austria in January, but did not finish his run in the super-G. Still, he was pleased to be afforded the opportunity to show what he could do against the top skiers on the planet. It helped prepare him for the tough field in Russia.

"It gave me a little confidence boost and showed me what I was capable of. If I'm able to compete at a World Cup level, then I'm definitely able to compete at the World Junior level," he said. "It's very hard, coming from a North American standpoint, to find a competition quite like the World Juniors. Even just racing in general, it's just so much bigger there. Racing against all those guys who I don't get to race against during the season, it's an eye-opener and it shows just how big the sport is and how hard you actually have to work to get to that level."

The World Juniors will help rocket Crawford into the NorAm Cup finale in Aspen, Colo. He currently trails fellow Canadian Erik Read by 80 points and has plenty of incentive to catch and pass him.

"It would definitely be a big step in my career to win that because it assures me a spot in every single World Cup in the following season," he said.



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