As the podium winners prepared to be whisked away to the press conferences, Dougie Crawford packed up his things in the finish area on his own. Britain has never had a huge team but Crawford looked rueful in the finish area after he had put a … disappointing slalom out of his mind with an encouraging Downhill in the Super Combined in Wengen. Ever mindful of the fact that he needed a top 30 position to give the selectors for Sochi reason to discuss his name for the list of those going to Sochi, pressure was on to deliver.
“I did not really give myself a chance with that Slalom performance this morning,” he reflected. “I have not trained much (slalom) this season and those conditions were tough,” he added. “When you have not trained that much, I felt kind of lost. I tried one thing and that did not work, tried another, that did not work so tried something else. I was so far behind, I felt embarrassed.”
Honest and open, Crawford knows that it is down to him when it comes to the racing. Crawford and his fiancee have worked hard to get sponsors and new sponsors have come on board so that he and his fellow speed racer, TJ Baldwin, now have a ski tech to help with the preparation of their skis. Crawford knows that this is reaping dividends and his training runs for the Lauberhorn Classic have shown some of the benefits of this. Crawford placed in the top thirty on four of the five sections for the training run and was amongst the fastest through the speed gun. All encouraging signs. “Had it not been for one horrible turn through the finish S it would have been a really good run,” he explained.
With the Super Combined now consigned to history, Crawford explains that he “has to get those turns right and then there is a chance to do something.” All is not lost on the road to Sochi.
Wengen is hard of the downhillers: The run is long: 4.4km of training done two times and full speed plus the inspections and Super Combined race make it hugely tiring for the racers. Now that the team have a technician helping with the skis this takes a little of the burden off him. These are long days still.
With Nevica providing the speed suit for the Speed team this year, a few more new sponsors have also come on board: The support from the likes of Skyscanner and Ski Areas of Scotland all helps to make the project possible.
With Crawford knowing all about the bumps and hard conditions from Europa Cup races, his experience certainly paid off he felt on the speed part of the Super Combined. Despite all this Crawford praised the organisers for their hard work in getting the race ready. Many of the TV crews had prepared programmes for the race being cancelled. Crawford explained that although the light was going, the Downhill section had not started until 2.30pm, there were sections including the Super G section where racers can reach speeds of 150kmh where they were in the near dark, frightening stuff. “This is ski racing and I am happy we got the race off,”explained Crawford.
Crawford and Baldwin have had a hard time this season with races being cancelled. Two thirds of the Europa Cup races have been cancelled, severely depleting his chances of making the Sochi team yet despite this Crawford was much more up beat than he had been in the past. With fast speed gun times and splits, he knows that his HEAD skis are running fast. A complete run is not far away you can feel. “I have to keep the positive aura going,” Crawford feels.
With only one place on the start list for British racers, Crawford took the spot this time, other races have seen Baldwin take the spots. With the team heading back over to France next, Baldwin has gone on over earlier to try and score a result. The two get on well and Baldwin texted Crawford after the Slalom to tell him that he had earned the start.
With it being squeaky bum time with regards to the Olympics selection, Crawford knows that the Lauberhorn Downhill is his last chance: “What happens, happens,” he feels. The selection issue has affected him and at times it has got to his head his feels, “but that is what makes Champions: Those that can deal with that.” Crawford knows that he could “feel victimised with races and what ever,” but “if I get my head down in the Downhill and deliver, then we shall see. You just have to get on with it.”
“If I am standing here tomorrow with World Cup points I will be happy as larry, that is the goal. If I get it right then I think I have a chance.” Nothing would make GB Skiing happier than to see him in the points after the Lauberhorn!
Follow Dougie Crawford’s progress on his FIS pages