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Crawford targets podium in second Games

WMSC alum peaking in advance of Beijing
WMSC alumnus Jack Crawford looks to follow his fourth-place finish at the 2021 World Championship with an Olympic medal.

Jack Crawford has a tendency to pick up momentum as a season goes along, and he’s hoping that holds true as he gets set to enter the 2022 Olympic Winter Games.

The 24-year-old Whistler Mountain Ski Club alumnus saw the fruits of that trend just last year, as he barrelled to a fourth-place showing in the Alpine combined at the FIS World Ski Championships at Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy last February.

“It’s definitely been trending the right way this season, starting off with solid results and working my way up in both super-G and downhill,” he said. “Last year, it was similar with World Champs. I peaked with Cortina and I’m hoping I can continue that momentum.”

Crawford explained that, simply, the cumulative effects of the season help him settle in more and more each time out.

“I’ve always built through the season. For me, the more time on skis, the more comfortable you get day-to-day. It’s something that really resonates with me,” he said. “I get a little more confident every race and hopefully that continues through the end of the season this year.”

In 2021-22, Crawford has posted three top-10 finishes, including season bests in the super-G (fifth at Wengen, Switzerland) and downhill (sixth at Kitzbuhel, Austria) since the calendar flipped. He also has three top-20 showings this season.

Despite the realities of the pandemic, Crawford said, in the first few days of being in China, he’s enjoyed a greater sense of the Olympic spirit than his first Games in 2018 in PyeongChang, South Korea. While the speed events were sequestered outside of the central hub last time, in China, the skiers are in a cluster with the sliding athletes in Yanqing to help foster that sense of cross-sport camaraderie.

“We’re actually in one of the Olympic Villages, so it’s been awesome, it’s been really cool,” he said. “It definitely feels a little different being in the Village with [athletes from] some of the other sports around you.”

Already a veteran entering his prime on the smaller, younger team, Crawford felt confident that he’d be returning to the Games so long as external factors didn’t have other plans.

“This year with COVID and all of the restrictions that came, it was a little bit of a relief, honestly,” he said. “When an event comes up only once every four years, you don’t know how many you’re going to get, so to be here is amazing.”

Crawford will take part in three events: downhill (Feb. 5 at 7 p.m. local time), super-G (Feb. 8 at 7 p.m.) and Alpine combined (Feb. 10 with the downhill at 6:30 p.m. and slalom at 10:15 p.m.). He’ll be looking to build off his PyeongChang results that saw him finish 20th in the combined, 29th in the giant slalom and a DNF in the super-G.

“If you’re not getting a medal, you really haven’t completed your goal. Coming fourth and fifth, maybe at your first Olympics, feels pretty good, but at the end of the day, not many people remember fourth place,” he said.

Speaking on Feb. 1, Crawford had only tested the training slope at the Chinese National Skiing Centre and looked forward to hitting up the competition venue in the coming days.

“Everything looks amazing,” he said, noting the course reminded him of those at PyeongChang and Beaver Creek. “The snow’s very aggressive and quite good. It’s hard to describe.

“You don’t necessarily feel like you’re going super fast or you’re doing everything right. It’s just easy to ski and that can be deceiving. Taking the couple days we have left and figuring out how to go really fast on it is key before race day.”