Jack Crawford skis to alpine combined bronze, launching Canadian ski racing into a new era

Toronto's Jack Crawford captured the bronze medal in the men's alpine combined, Canada's first-ever Olympic medal in the event.

24-year-old finishes 2nd in slalom to capture 9th Canadian medal of Beijing 2022

Canada's Jack Crawford, seen above, captured Canada's first Olympic alpine medal since Sochi 2014. (Alex Boichard/Getty Images)

Jack Crawford of Toronto, Ont., picked up his first Olympic medal on Thursday, skiing to bronze in the men's alpine combined.

The 24-year-old shared the podium with Austria's Johannes Strolz, who won gold, and Norway's Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, who took the silver medal after falling 0.59 seconds short of first place.

Strolz's father, Hubert, won combined gold at the 1988 Calgary Olympics. Hubert Strolz also won silver in the giant slalom that year.

After finishing fourth in the downhill, missing the medals by 0.07 seconds, and sixth in the super-G, Crawford pushed through the barrier.

"I've been searching for a podium for so long on the World Cup," Crawford said after Thursday's race. "I kept feeling like it was right around the corner and if I just continued what I was doing it would finally happen, and today it did."

The combined adds the times from one downhill run and one slalom run.

WATCH | Jack Crawford skis to bronze in alpine combined, Canada's 9th medal:

Toronto's Jack Crawford captures historic alpine combined bronze medal at Beijing 2022

10 months ago
Duration 3:54
Jack Crawford of Toronto finished third in the men's alpine combined event at the Beijing Olympics with a total time of 2:32.11. It's Canada's first-ever Olympic medal in alpine combined.

Taking a step onto the podium, he made history as the first Canadian to win an Olympic medal in the event that debuted at the 1936 Olympics in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. 

Four Canadians finished in the top 10, with Broderick Thompson of Whistler, B.C., in eighth, and Brodie Seger, who skied to third on the downhill run, in ninth. Seger, a North Vancouver, B.C. native and a downhill specialist, asked for slalom tips on Instagram between the two runs after not skiing the discipline for two years.

Trevor Philp of Banff, Alta., slid out on a gate in the slalom run and posted a DNF.

Watershed moment

While the Olympic medal is an instant highlight for Crawford, finishing in the top 3 has been his target all season. In 2021, he won the super-G portion of the alpine combined at the World Championships in Cortina, Italy, before finishing fourth after the slalom. 

On the Italian slopes he got a taste of what it is like to ski with the best, and in 2021-22 he's skied on the precipice of greatness. A sixth-place downhill finish in Kitzbuehel and fifth in Wengen proved the speed specialist was close, but always a few hundredths of a second off.

"It just feels amazing to accomplish what I've been trying to do for so long, and to do it at the Olympics is incredible," Crawford said after the medal ceremony. "Everybody who's been a part of my ski career has moved me in a direction that has brought me here, and I can't thank everybody enough."

Crawford comes from a storied skiing family, with his aunt, Judy Crawford, finishing fourth in the women's slalom at Sapporo 1972. His sister, Candace, races on the Nor-Am and World Cup circuits but missed out on the Canadian Olympic team. 

"[Judy] always told me that no one remembers fourth place, and it feels really good to not be in that situation, that kept popping into my head after the downhill," he said. "At the Olympic Games, a medal is everything, and it feels amazing to actually accomplish that."

The podium finish is a watershed moment for a new generation of Canadian men's alpine racers.

While Jan Hudec won super-G bronze at Sochi 2014 at 32-years-old and Erik Guay and Manny Osborne-Paradis won world championship medals in 2017, Crawford and his teammates are a fresh look for the Canadian program.

They might not be "The Crazy Canucks" of the 1970s and 80s, or the "Canadian Cowboys" of the late 2000s and 2010s, but Crawford's Olympic medal launches Canadian men's alpine racing into a potential new era among the world's best.

Winning a medal is the first step, however, Beijing 2022 may be the last time that alpine combined is in the Olympic program. Only 27 racers put their names on the men's event start list, and with few athletes training speed and tech, there are calls to remove it from the program.

Despite the event's potential exclusion from future Games, Olympic and World Cup results prove that Crawford and the Canadian team are in a strong position to thrive outside of the combined. 

WATCH | Replay of the men's combined slalom final:

Graphic language: Toronto's Jack Crawford narrowly misses Olympic downhill podium

10 months ago
Duration 2:19
Jack Crawford of Toronto finishes 0.07 seconds behind bronze medallist Matthias Mayer of Austria in the men's downhill event at the Beijing Olympics.

With files from The Associated Press

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