He has wanted a win on the FIS circuit for some time, yet the way that Jack Gower owned the first run was impressive to see. Gower destroyed the field on the first run and then let the rest of the field try and catch him on the second. The conditions were fairly atrocious and Gower made the most of his early start list on the first run. With Gower, TJ Baldwin and David Ryding all starting in the top seven seeds for the first run, this demonstrated how strong the British technical skiing has come along. With Dougie Crawford starting just outside the top seeds as well, this was a race that would see the best of Britain battling it out. Gower took the win with TJ Baldwin in second, both Overall and in the British race, with Dougie Crawford third.
Gower has been skiing really well this season, according to his coach Chris Hillier, and so this was a result that had been in the offing he felt. In the inspection, Hillier had spoken with the British team coach Tristan Glasse Davies and Hillier strongly believed that his charge could win, Glasse Davies believed that one of the French racers would. Gower admitted that this season has been hard yet was extremely motivated for the first run. He wanted a big result he admitted after the race.
With the weather not playing ball and the visibility sketchy at best, this was a race that the racers had to man up and attack. Gower was that man and when he came through the finish at the end of the first run, was a little astonished by his time. Gower had a lead at the end of the first run of over a second and a half over the rest of the field. For Baldwin the race was now on for damage limitation. Baldwin had seen Gower train in the summer so knew the potential of the racer yet knew that he did not want to see another of his titles head out the door.
With the weather deteriorating for the second run, many of the racers took the slightly controversial decision not to start the second run. With over 20 racers deciding to wait for another day, some including Dave Ryding decided not to race in preparation for the next race, the men’s slalom.
Dougie Crawford was one of many racers that had been disappointed with their first run and so attacked more on the second run. “I made more errors than I cared for the on the first run and could not let the skis run,” he felt. “On the second run, I let it all go and attacked.” By the time he came through the finish on the second run, he felt better and had taken the lead. With some of the top racers deciding not to race, Crawford had to wait for the rest of the racers to come down. Baldwin took the lead and now the calculators came out for the Men’s Overall and also the Victor Ludorum for the racer with the most points, male or female. Crawford rose to third amongst the British racers as Ryding did not race.
Baldwin took his third second place of the Championships yet was still a tad disappointed to be the runner up again. There was no denying that his second run was good but he had a deficit to make up over Gower. Baldwin posted the fastest second run time and as he caught his breath in the finish, all he could do was wait and see what Gower could do.
Gower admitted that he was nervous in the start. “With a lead of over a second and a half, it was mine to lose and that made me nervous,” Gower admitted. Gower left the start and immediately hit trouble as he clattered the first gate, Gower admitted. Â From then on Gower got his act together and admitted to just trying to hang on down the Stade.
By the time he crossed the finish line he looked up and for a moment had that moment of doubt that he had not done it. Â Then he saw the number 1 by his name and the relief was there for all to see. Gower had never won a FIS race before today, “I have been on the cusp before but never managed to carry it through,” he explained afterwards.
The way he ran up to the podium at prize giving further emphasised his delight in winning both his first National Title as well as winning his first FIS race. The relief was evident. An added bonus for Gower was also a career best FIS points result of just under 15 points!
With Dougie Crawford taking third, he not only secured the Men’s Overall but also the Victor Ludorum for the most points in the Championships.