What comes after a world title? Canadian skier Jack Crawford is about to find out
Toronto native focused on consistency in season without sport's marquee events
Jack Crawford isn't exactly sure where he left his gold medal.
The 26-year-old skier from Toronto won the super-G at last year's world championships — a somewhat surprising result, given it was Crawford's first-ever victory. Then again, he did collect bronze in alpine combined at the Beijing Olympics in 2022, to go with fourth- and sixth-place finishes in downhill and super-G, respectively.
"I think [the gold medal is] somewhere in Whistler [B.C.]. It might be in Toronto. I'm not 100 per cent sure. But it's with a family member, so it's either with my parents or with my aunt," he told CBC Sports.
Not exactly a convenient — or cost-effective — treasure hunt.
"I think other people have different views on it, but I've never been a very materialistic person, so it's not the most important piece of those events," he said. "It's a cool piece of hardware to get, but the memory and being there and getting the chance to just do it and be a part of it, that's the more important piece to me."
WATCH | Crawford wins super-G gold medal:
After leaving Beijing with bronze, Crawford said he rued the missed opportunities in his other races — especially that agonizingly close downhill result, one shared by his aunt, Judy Crawford, at the 1972 Sapporo Olympics.
Now, though, he is a world champion. And a 2023-24 season without either of the sport's marquee events started with a whimper when each of Crawford's two scheduled races in Europe were cancelled due to uncooperative weather.
It all leaves Crawford in a bit of a bind — where to find drive now that he's reached the mountaintop.
"To actually do it, you never know if you will, so it's a little bit of relief, like a little validation. It's a weight off your shoulders that I don't think you realize you have until you've done it," he said.
Focus on consistency
Crawford's season is finally scheduled to begin at Beaver Creek, Colo. A super-G competition begins on Sunday at 12:45 p.m. ET on CBCSports.ca, the CBC Sports app and CBC Gem.
As a high-performance athlete, Crawford understands the prestige that comes with an Olympics or world championships. And so a season focused solely on the World Cup circuit forces a change in mindset — especially during summer training.
"I actually was pretty low through the summer, didn't do that much exciting stuff, didn't have the desire to. It took a lot of energy to be at that level for so long," he said.
With more than two years to go until the 2026 Winter Olympics in Milan, Italy, Crawford said his goals for the current campaign are more focused on consistency.
"It's not necessarily about winning. It's just being able to bring my best effort in every single race of the year, which can be a really hard task that can be mentally super draining," he said.
WATCH | Brian Stemmle emotional while discussing Crawford's win:
Tomaz Senk is the director of alpine programs at Georgian Peaks Ski Club in Ontario, where Crawford grew up before moving to Whistler, B.C., at 14. He recalled watching a young Crawford do slalom turns on a small but fierce run called 'Riot' up to 200 times some mornings.
"I think his hard work, his work ethic, his love of skiing is what, at the end of the day, helped him move forward to where he is now," Senk said.
Senk said Crawford stood out among hundreds of students, earning multiple top-five finishes in various races. Even then, though, he exuded a calm competitiveness.
"He's pretty laid back and I just think he enjoys his time doing what he's doing. I think he's a quick learner and he's a hard worker," Senk said.
Competitive team environment
Those traits have transferred over to the entire Canadian alpine team, which has enjoyed plenty of success over the past year.
Crawford earned two silvers and a bronze on the World Cup circuit last year, including a third-place finish at Beaver Creek, in addition to his world championship gold. Laurence St-Germain stunned Mikaela Shiffrin to win women's slalom at worlds, while Cameron Alexander earned downhill bronze. Canada also won bronze in the mixed-team event.
Crawford credited a culture of collaboration.
Still, having successful teammates may just be one more motivating factor for Crawford this season.
"I definitely don't like getting beat by my teammates. I don't like getting beat by anybody, but there's definitely a very healthy competitive nature amongst us all," he said.
"It's easy to get up every morning and try to give your best effort because you know that they're trying to be just as good as you are."