BRITAIN’S foremost alpine skier Dougie Crawford made his World Cup return this week after missing last season through injury.
The Bearsden man, still ranked No 1 in the country’s downhill and Super-G events, hit the slopes in Lake Louise, Canada, last weekend as the 2012 ski season began in earnest.
While the 24-year-old endured a forgettable return to World Cup action, he will be full of optimism ahead of this week’s trip to Colorado’s Beaver Creek event.
Dougie finished 65th with a time of 1:52.85 but was left frustrated after a mistake.
He said: “I was pretty disappointed with my first result. I skied well on the top section with some good split times but made a major mistake on the main steep pitch.
“That cost me a huge amount of time and speed on the lower half of the piste, leaving me much further behind than I had hoped.”
Dougie has spent the better part of a year injured with a troublesome hip problem.
Eventually he was diagnosed with Gilmore’s Groin, a fairly common sports hernia which causes chronic pain following physical activity.
Dougie had surgery on his afflicted side as well as his injury-free side with designs on preventing a similar injury a year down the line.
After going under the knife, Dougie spent months in physical therapy before having an operation on his wrist in April.
But after 11 months, he finally made a return to his skis when he arrived for a month-long training camp in Chile.
Dougie made a redoubtable impression when he improved his world ranking on the back of his first race back in almost a year.
He said: “We have been very fortunate to have some great training conditions over the summer and autumn this year and it has allowed me to make major technical steps forward.
“The first result in Chile was a bit of a surprise as you never know how things will go when you haven’t skied for that long, but the months of rehab clearly paid off as I was able to get back to full speed very quickly.”
The British Ski Team have endured their share of financial worries but after a period of caustic uncertainty, those fears have eased.
Dougie added: “Things have calmed down a bit, but we are still running a very tight budget.
“We haven’t been able to get a technician to help with the skis, we have to spend several hours a day after training preparing our skis, and are still paying for all our own expenses.
“It’s pretty difficult going into a season not knowing if you can afford to make it to the end, but I have had some great help from Canadian Affair who are getting me out to Canada and sponsored my fundraising ski race at Bearsden Ski Club.
“I’m still working away to find sponsors who can help with the costs of the rest of the season, but my first priority right now is to ski fast and make some good results in the early races.”
The men’s tour continues this weekend with the downhill, Super-G and Giant Slalom at Beaver Creek, Colorado.