Catching Up With…James (Jack) Crawford
It’s been nothing short of an incredible month for Jack Crawford. The newly minted Olympic Bronze medallist who spent his childhood shredding at Georgian Peaks Ski Club in Collingwood just picked up some new hardware in Norway – a silver medal in Super G. It’s been a wild ride for Jack, who took some time in between racing in Norway and France to answer some Q&As with AOA about his journey.
What was your initial reaction when you realized you had won bronze in Alpine Combined at the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games?
I was a little stressed when everything was going on. I was worried that my run wasn’t quite good enough as the guys started to slowly slide in behind me. It all started to become more real as the race went on. But when I actually stepped up behind the podium that’s when it finally started to feel real. It was all around an exciting moment and the cherry on top for the Olympics personally. Downhill was one I really wanted and was SO CLOSE. To have those 3 guys just ahead of me, that one definitely stung a little bit but it kept me hungry. Then I go into Super G and have just as close of a race. So going into Alpine Combined – it would have eaten at me to not have gotten that medal with everything so close in the Games. The bronze helped me mentally push forward and keep pushing for the rest of the season.
How heavy is that bronze medal? Is it tough to race with? Do you ever take it off?
I’m planning on bringing it home to my parents. They are one of the main reasons why I’m here today, so they deserve to have it. I’ve never been a huge fan of wearing the medals. I’ve always been someone who wears them in the moment and then takes them off right away. I’ve never been someone to wear and show off what I’ve done. If you ask me, I’ll always let you see it and hold it – it’s pretty cool, but I’m not one to bring it around and show it to people who don’t know who I am.
What is your process of getting ready for a race?
That’s a hard one to answer for me. The process – I have the things that I do everyday. Recovery, warm up – all of that pretty much stays the same and is a little bit dictated on how my body is feeling on that day. Other than that, whatever mood I am in, I’ll listen to different music and get into a head space where I’m calm, relaxed and enjoying what I’m doing. I focus through inspection and through my warm up, but in between that I’m not focused on ski racing at all until the 5 minutes before I push through the gate. I try to keep it really light and fun because at the end of the day if you aren’t enjoying what you’re doing, then what’s the point.
For me overthinking and over-preparing is something that is very real in our sport and it’s almost easier to be fast when you’re just not thinking and just doing what you know how to do.
What is your favourite part of racing?
Skiing, for sure! There’s so much to love about it, but for sure when you’re skiing at the highest level the feeling of coming down some of those big courses and flowing at some of those crazy speeds, there’s nothing quite like it. And when you’re on the World Cup tour it’s super easy to take it for granted because if you actually think about it, not too many people actually get to ever ski those courses. For me, it’s really all about being grateful and getting to have the opportunity to be on these courses that only 60-70 people a year get to ski and getting to do that year in and year out in my career? That’s pretty incredible.
What do you think about as you’re sitting in the start hut before runs?
I try to stay loose and stay relaxed until about 5-10 minutes before. Once I’m in the start house I think about my few key points that need to happen for me to be successful. I’m never thinking about winning or anything like that, I’m thinking about what needs to be accomplished to win that race. And if you trust your plan and you trust those things that work for you when you push into that start gate, the majority of the time you’ve put yourself into a position to do well in that race but you never expect to win the race. You put yourself in the best place that you can.
Do you have any special routines or things you do before a race like listen to pump up songs?
I kinda jump between music genres. So nothing specific. A lot of EDM, lo-fi beats. It ranges from super hardcore EDM all the way to mellow chill music depending on how I’m feeling or that certain day.
To what do you attribute your success? How do you transition this success to future success?
Something I have always been told by so many people is that “hard work always pays off”. And it seems like such an easy thing to say as a coach or a person. Hard work does pay off but you have to be willing to put it in and I think a lot of people who think they work hard, think they do enough, it is never enough. When you’re low and things aren’t going well and you’re not winning and you’re not even contending with those top athletes, you just continue to put in the work and continue to be dedicated. You will see results at some point. Nothing is guaranteed but if you’ve ever thought you’re doing enough or that you’ve done enough to get to where you are, it never is. The hard world does pay off but you can never think that you’re working hard because if you think you’re working hard then you’re not working hard enough. Always keep pushing.
What are your favourite ski racing memories?
There are many. All my first best races, the first time down each track, all of those are memories I hope will stick with me forever. For sure this past Olympic Games and this past race series. Things will come close, but this past weekend in Norway was a huge, huge step in my career and my team. Cam Alexander, one of my best friends over the past few years, watching him get his medal and being able to share a second place over this weekend is a memory I’ll never forget. I don’t really see much else topping that. Being able to share massive parts of both of our careers in the same venue, on the same weekend is pretty phenomenal. I’ve heard people say that success is more fun when it’s done as a team and I can certainly agree with that. When the whole team is skiing well and getting results, of course you want to be the top guy. But even if you’re not, seeing people on your team get those big results is so much more fun to celebrate when you’re with people who are also having fun. If you’re the only one seeing results and everyone else is struggling it’s not quite the same.
If you could give one piece of advice to 15 year old Jack, what would it be?
You don’t actually have that much time, so don’t waste it.
What’s next for you and what are you excited about?
I’ve got one more race weekend where I need to be locked in, but this has been my first real season on the World Cup tour. The last few seasons I was in the top 30 in Super G and Downhill was a work in progress, but this was the first year where I was a competitor from the start the season in both Downhill and Super G. One of the biggest things I’ve always wondered is why the World Cup athletes rarely make it to Canadian Nationals or Spring Series. I still think we should try our best to go to those events, this year it unfortunately doesn’t work out with other events, but it makes sense to me now why athletes don’t make it there. The amount of mental stress and fatigue that you go through in a World Cup season is hard. I need to stay focused. I have high expectations this coming weekend. But I’m so excited to just go home, see my girlfriend, see my family and decompress for a few weeks before getting back into ski training and dry land to prep for next season.
How can Canadians and Ontarians support your journey?
Just tune in!! I grew up in Ontario, I have so many family and friends and amazing people behind me there and I spend quite a bit of time in BC. A lot of my friends are out there and a lot of people support me there too. Honestly, if people are watching and enjoying what they are seeing and really want to tune in and want to get their kids into skiing, that’s kinda my dream. As much as I want to be the best ski racer in the world and have success, there’s also something about passing on what I’ve learned and what the older guys have passed down to me. As long as kids, families and people are watching and being inspired, that makes me happy.
And last but not least, will the moustache make a comeback?
Some people like the moustache, others not so much. I was indifferent. It’s been a fun little thing I’ve been doing all season. For sure next year, maybe every year. I’ll probably have one in Lake Louise and I’ll probably keep one every now and again. It’s all just for fun, for sure no superstition around it!
Jack is headed home to Canada in soon for some much deserved time with family and friends. He now sits fifth in the World Cup in Super-G and 14th overall. With an exceptional season under his belt this year, we cannot wait to see him fly down the slopes next season!