It is two years since Dougie Crawford raced at the British Championships. In 2010 he swept all before him and deprived his girlfriend, Chemmy Alcott from winning the Victor Ludorum for the racer who scores the most British Championship points at the British Championships. Never having raced the full length course of the Meribel Downhill, this is all a new experience for him: The changes have been outlined by Finlay Mickel, here Dougie Crawford gives his views on the new course from the racers point of view…
“It is hard to say how the course will run as we have not skied it yet. I have never skied the full length course so it is longer for one thing and this year they have set a lot more turns. The old ‘A Net’ corner used to see all the speed scrubbed off so that will be much faster there,” Crawford explained, “You will carry a lot more speed through to the next section and that will make the turns seem more turny I think.”
Crawford has competition this year to recapture the Downhill title. Not only is TJ Baldwin the defending Champion of the Sir John Ritblat Trophy but Crawford has usurped him this season as the number 1 ranked downhiller in the UK and so Baldwin will be wanting to keep onto the silverware and put pressure on Crawford.
Crawford feels that the pitch looks fast. “It looks a full on course, it is not an easy downhill but it will be fun.”
Does Crawford feel that the course is an improvement? “Yeah he slowly says. I think before that ‘A Net’ was a bit hit and miss. it was all about who scrubbed off the correct amount of speed. This year it will be more about skiing through there; it will be more about grabbing the balls and going through there. I think it is better there. The Super G was nicer through there so yes I do think it is better.”
The new set up for the course means that there are some solid turns for the racers to negotiate, Crawford feels that there is a lot of terrain to keep working, “If you get behind any of the terrain or turns then it will be a bit of a battle. It is about being smart and having a go and attacking the tougher parts.”
Does Crawford feel that this is a course that suits the British Championship in terms of standard and quality? “I would say that it is one of the most challenging courses I have done since Christmas, probably only second to Wengen yet harder than all the Europa Cup races that I have done this year. It is a pretty high standard of course. For guys who have not skied downhill all year, or ever, it is a real test and quite tricky. I personally would rather see guys like that have a shot at an easier downhill so that they can get the feel of the skis rather than straight into this.”
How would Crawford see this happening? Does he feel that sections like the jump need changing? “I do not think that the jump will be very big this year. It should not be a problem as it is set quite easy, you are not turning off the jump. It should be fine. The snow is not easy, racers will pick up speed quite quickly between turns. There is a lot of terrain so it is not easy to make a clean ark between the turns: there are fallaways and you have to absorb and move. I am not sure you can make it all that easier down the hill. It is what it is. It is going to be a fun downhill. Some of the guys who have not got a lot of experience in downhill are going to have fun.”
With courses described as either gliders courses or technical courses, Crawford feels that this more of a technical course; “This year it is more turnier than it has been in the past.”
With training and the National Junior Downhill scheduled for Tuesday, the racers will be looking forward to seeing how the morning shapes up.