Yanqing Alpine Venue, China (February 7, 2022) – History was made today at the Yanging Alpine Venue as the men’s Olympic downhill took place, marking the first ever major race held on the track. Canada’s Jack Crawford (Toronto, ON) also came close to making ski racing history, finishing 4th just 0.07 away from a highly prized Olympic medal.
“Coming fourth is really cool,” shares Crawford. “I’m super happy that I was able to show that I can contend with these top guys. It’s early in my career and I’ve got a few more Olympics to go but it would still have been really nice to have some hardware on the first day of racing.”
Following concerns of high winds on training days, the highly anticipated race got underway under clear skies and on hardpacked, grippy,fast snow with some racers reaching speeds up to 140 km per hour.
Wearing bib 12, Jack Crawford was poised to improve upon his 5th place finish from the first training run and he didn’t disappoint. Skiing an aggressive line from top to bottom, Crawford crossed the finish with a time of 1:42.92. For a moment, the 24-year-old competing in his first ever Olympic downhill sat in second place behind Austria’s Matthias Mayer who held the fastest time up to that point with 1:42.85.
Wearing bib 13, Switzerland’s Beat Feuz skied a brilliant run, setting the day’s new to time beat of 1:42.69 and bumping down Mayer and Crawford. France’s Johan Clarey, the oldest skier on the tour, put down a stellar run and managed to sneak into second place 0.10 behind Feuz - shattering Crawford’s Olympic hopes for a bronze medal.
The last time a Canadian was in the top 5 in an Olympic downhill was in 2010 when Erik Guay came in 5th.
“The wait at the bottom was not too fun,” shares Crawford. “It’s much better to be at the top getting ready to race! There were a lot of good skiers coming down after me so when I crossed the finish line, I knew it would be a decent time, but I also knew there were a lot of guys who were big threats. It only took two to bump me off the podium.”
Prior to today, Crawford’s career best at Olympic Games was 20th in the Alpine Combined at PyeongChang in 2018. Since then, Crawford has made heads turn on the World Cup tour with notable performances such as 6th in the Kitzbuehel downhill just last month and 4th in the Alpine Combined at the World Championships in Cortina d’Ampezzo last season. He is currently ranked 21st in downhill in the standings.
“I know what I’m capable of,” tells Crawford. “Today, I’m part of four guys who skied exceptionally well, and I couldn’t have done more. I’m happy with my approach and these guys were just a bit faster than I was. Hopefully I can bring it out tomorrow.”
Fellow Canadian Brodie Seger (North Vancouver, B.C.) was making his Olympic debut today. After injuring his hand following a tough crash in training, Seger skied into 22nd place from bib 29, 1.99 away from the fastest time.
“Result-wise, I’m a bit disappointed because I know I have the potential to do a lot better, especially seeing Jack’s result,” admits Seger. “I had some nerves playing today after my crash in training and that was definitively on my mind. Nevertheless, I’m still happy with my mindset. I still pushed hard and even though I wished I could have been faster where I had my crash, I learned from my experience and I can build on,” concludes the racer who is eager to race in the super G following his 4th place in the discipline at the 2021 World Championships in Cortina d’Ampezzo.
Teammate Broderick Thompson (Whistler, B.C.) left the start wearing bib 21 and skied a strong top section, managing to produce green intervals at the top. However, the two-time Olympian who achieved the third fastest time of the second training run got low towards the bottom of the course and ended up in chattered snow, clicking out of both bindings. Fortunately, he skied down uninjured.
“Until I went out, it felt pretty good,” tells Thompson. “I was skiing relaxed and pushing the limit where I could but maybe I pushed a bit too much at the bottom. I’m excited to give it another shot tomorrow for the super G,” adds the racer who is one of the sibling pairs competing at these Games with his sister Marielle who is a medal contender in the Ski Cross event.
The next men’s alpine event at the 2022 Olympics is the super G held on Tuesday. Canada will be represented by Jack Crawford, Broderick Thompson, Brodie Seger and Trevor Philp (Calgary, Alta.).
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