HIGH ACHIEVERS: Stay-Safe Edition
Keeping Local Sport Spirit High During the Pandemic
By Martin Cleary
WEEKEND WRAP: The Olympic tradition continues for the Crawford alpine skiing family – fourth place.
At the 1972 Winter Olympic Games in Sapporo, Japan, Toronto-born Judy Crawford, who now lives in the west-end of Ottawa, finished one place short of the medal podium in the women’s slalom.
While American Barbara Cochrane and French skiers Daniele Debernard and Florence Steurer admired their respective gold, silver and bronze medals, Crawford was left wondering how she could have gone 1.26 seconds faster in her two runs to earn the bronze.
“It was close. I missed a bronze,” Crawford-Rawley told Toronto Star sports columnist Dave Feschuk in an interview for a Feb. 10, 2018, story. “But there’s quite a tradition of Canadian fourths, eh? And I was fourth again in the world championships. It’s disappointing in the beginning. But then you say, ‘I did my best. And I was there.’”
A half century later, Crawford-Rawley’s nephew, Jack Crawford of Toronto, discovered Monday how it feels to be a fourth-place finisher at the Winter Olympic Games.
A day after the 2022 Beijing Olympic men’s downhill race was postponed because of strong winds, Crawford finished an impressive fourth and was only 0.07 seconds away from achieving the bronze medal. Competing in his second Olympics, after racing in the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Games with his sister Candace, Jack Crawford was thrilled and only mildly disappointed about his No. 4 result.
“Coming fourth is really cool,” Crawford said after the race on the brand new international race course, which saw some skiers achieve speeds up to 140 kilometres an hour. “I’m super happy that I was able to show that I can contend with these top guys.
“It’s early in my career and I’ve got a few more Olympics to go, but it would still have been nice to have some hardware on the first day of racing.”
Switzerland’s Beat Feuz won the men’s downhill in one minute, 42.69 seconds, while Johan Clarey of France was one-tenth of a second behind in second place and Matthias Mayer of Austria took third in 1:42. 85.
Jack Crawford appeared ready to erase the 50-year-old Crawford-Olympic-fourth-place tradition, when he stood in second place and then third as the downhill evolved. Then, along came Clarey to bump him to fourth. Clarey became the oldest Olympic alpine medallist at age 41.
Before his first Olympic experience in 2018, Jack Crawford looked to his aunt Judy for inspiration.
“She finished fourth at the Olympics,” he told Feschuk. “My sister and I have to bring back medals.”
In his three races at the 2018 Olympics, Jack Crawford’s best result was a 20th in the combined, while Candace recorded a Games-best 25th in the giant slalom during her fourth races. Candace wasn’t selected to the 2022 Olympic team by Alpine Canada.
A sixth-place finisher at the recent Kitzbuehel downhill, Jack Crawford also was fourth in the men’s alpine combined event at the 2021 world alpine ski championships.
At 1970 world alpine ski championships, Judy Crawford was fourth in the downhill. She raced six years on the World Cup circuit (1968-74) and her best-ever finishes in the giant slalom and downhill disciplines were, you guessed it, fourth. She did, however, win one World Cup medal, a slalom bronze.
PIERRE GRALL-JOHNSON WINS SPRINT BRONZE MEDAL IN FINLAND
While the 2022 Beijing Olympic cross-country skiing races started on the weekend, Ottawa’s Pierre Grall-Johnson continued to build a solid base to make a serious bid for the 2026 Winter Games.
At the Finnish U23 championships and World Cup selection races in Vuokatin, Grall-Johnson scored three top-20 results, including a bronze-medal effort in the men’s 1.1-kilometre sprint. He reached the final by placing second in his quarter-final heat and third in his semifinal.
Grall-Johnson, who placed third in the sprint at the Canadian Olympic trials a month ago, also placed 11th in the 15-kilometre free technique race and 20th in the 15-kilometre classic race.
CHRIS PHILLIPS INDUCTED INTO ALBERTA SPORTS HALL OF FAME
Ottawa Sport Hall of Fame inductee Chris Phillips has become an honoured member of the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame. The ceremony, which was delayed two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic, was held virtually on Jan. 30.
Phillips was the No. 1 player selected at the 1996 NHL Draft by the Ottawa Senators. A stay-at-home defenceman, he played his entire career with the Senators from 1996-2016, recording 71 goals and 217 assists in 1,179 regular-season games and added six goals and nine assists in 114 playoff games.
He started his junior career playing two seasons (1993-95) with the Fort McMurray Oil Barons and was captain of Alberta’s team at the 1995 Canada Winter Games. In 1995-96, he was the WHL rookie of the year playing for the Prince Albert Raiders and was drafted by the Senators. He played his final WHL season in 1996-97 with the Lethbridge Hurricanes. As the Hurricanes’ second-leading scorer (four goals, 21 assists) in the playoffs, he was instrumental in leading Lethbridge to the WHL title and second place at the Memorial Cup in Hull.
Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 49 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.
When the pandemic struck, Martin created the “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at OttawaSportsPages.ca.
Martin can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @martincleary.
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