Dougie Crawford made it three wins from three Championship races in the Super Combined in Meribel. After the sun shine that allowed the Downhill races and training run to be squeezed into one day, the weather came back to haunt the race organisers as a snow storm put pressure on them to get the race done. And get the race done they did. Crawford, out for two years through injury, came to the Championships in good form in the speed events yet admitted that Slalom is not his main priority this year. Defending champion TJ Baldwin was hoping to retain the title after having lost both the Super G and Downhill titles to his training and racing colleague. Jack Gower managed to overcome a poor Super G to benefit from Baldwin straddling in the Slalom section and Billy Major took third.
For Crawford, the way the Championships are panning out is very satisfying he feels. “The top section of the Super went really well,” Crawford admitted, “but then I made a mistake around Panorama and this put paid to winning the Super G section. I was not surprised that TJ was ahead of me after the mistake,” he continued. Standing in the start for the slalom section, Crawford admitted to be nervous and the fact that a lot of racers had crashed out and struggled before him, made things even more tense. “I started off tentatively on the slalom,” Crawford admitted “and then got into a groove.” Neither Crawford or Baldwin spend much time training slalom as their priority is the speed events and so while both are highly accomplished slalom skiers, speed is the number one priority.
With Crawford safely in the finish, he did not have long to wait to see how Baldwin would do. Baldwin learned his trade first in Norfolk and then improved his craft at the British Ski Academy in Les Houches. A past Slalom Champion in the Children’s age groups, Baldwin is no slouch on the slalom boards and it was going well until mid way down the steep when he straddled and was out. A near second lead over Crawford from the Super G evaporated and so did his chance to retain one of his titles from 2012.
Jack Gower had been very despondent with his Super G from the morning and used all his determination to attack the slalom section and pull himself up to second in the British standings. “Slalom has been my secret weapon this year, I feel,” Gower admitted after the race. With many of the racers having to battle the flat light and heavy snow fall, Gower was “happy with the place but not so happy with the skiing, I should have done better in the Super G section,” he admitted. “I think every body feels down when they finish outside the 30, but for me it was more that I had not skied like I have been in training. I let myself down in the Super G.” And of the conditions he recognised that he had not skied anything like that all year.
Billy Major is fast making a name for himself in the FIS racing scene. The seventeen year old who lives not far from Meribel in Val Cenis, has already scored tow sub 40FIS point results in Slalom yet has not raced much speed he admitted. The quietly spoken racer was happy with the Super G considering this and then put in a fast slalom to make his first podium in the National Championships. His Super G run had also seen him win the Junior Super G title ahead of Max Baggio and Paul Henderson.
With Baldwin crashing out, the race for the Overall is now looking very much in favour of Crawford as he now has a maximum 300 points with Baldwin on 160 courtesy of his two second places. With the Giant Slalom up next, all is play for. For Baldwin the fact that he scored a season’s best FIS point result in the Super G will be some consolation for his days work, he also took third place in the race just behind Brice Roger and Matteo Marsaglia, the second best Super G racer on the World Cup this year.