Mentality shift gets Crawford over the hump, onto the podium
Coming into the event, however, his mind was in a very specific place — and it’s that mental approach that helped finally lift him to the Olympic podium.
“It’s always been a childhood dream to be at the Olympics, to be part of the event,” he said. “To be here and actually be a medallist is amazing. I couldn’t have asked for more.”
Crawford said his speed has had him in contention in those two events for a number of years, but that something was missing to put it all together. So, ahead of the Beijing Games, he decided to make some adjustments to his equipment, his style and, most importantly, his approach.
“I’ve kinda taken on this new mentality of, ‘how do I put myself in the position to win every single race?'” he said. “Even if you’re not winning, even if you’re not coming in the top 10, if you have that mentality and you have that ability to push and put yourself in the position where you could win, it’s probably going to be a pretty good day regardless of where you end up.
“For me, that has really helped allow me to push and be in a place where anything can happen on any given day.”
Crawford zipped through the downhill portion in the second fastest time (1:43.14), which certainly fits with the idea of putting himself in a good position. But he went second in the slalom and wasn’t full of confidence after that run.
“I had a little mistake coming down, and I honestly thought that wasn’t going to be enough.”
Crawford had to wait until the rest of the field had finished before he could know whether it would be enough. It was a gut-churning experience, just days after he’d endured the same thing in the downhill event.
“It’s two times now I have had to do it,” he said. “The downhill I ended up getting pushed (out) and feeling the sting of coming fourth, and today it was the opposite. I didn’t get that same sting.”
While a fourth-place finish is certainly nothing to sneeze at, Crawford has long had the importance of a podium finish drilled into his mind by his aunt, Judy Crawford, who finished fourth in the women’s slalom at Sapporo 1972.
“She always told me no one remembers fourth place and it feels really good to not be in that situation,” he said. “That kept popping into my head after the downhill and even today. It’s cutthroat but it’s true — at the Olympic Games, a medal is everything.”
This result, and this mindset, have the 24-year-old already thinking about what could be in store at the next Olympic Winter Games in four years’ time. For now, though, he has another top priority on his mind.
“I definitely am going to take some time off at home, relax with my family, my girlfriend and my friends and just celebrate this as best i can,” he said. “Really, I don’t think it’s actually going to sink in until I get home.”