“You’re like ‘ah wow, okay, this means something to people’” – Jaz Taylor 

“You’re like ‘ah wow, okay, this means something to people’” – Jaz Taylor 

Fresh from her double Crystal Globe winning season, we sat down with Telemark sensation, Jaz Taylor, to get her insight into a history-making year 

Britain loves an underdog story. British sport, in particular, loves an underdog story. There’s something about the idea of an athlete triumphing against the odds that seems particularly well-suited to the British psyche.  

That being the case, it’s no surprise that Jaz Taylor is currently surfing a wave of love from the British snowsport community. After all, Britain surely isn’t supposed to produce double Crystal Globe winning skiers, particularly given Telemark skiing doesn’t qualify for public funding due to its omission from the Olympic Winter Games programme. 

And yet, here we are. 

For those who’ve met her, probably one of the first things that comes to mind when talking about Taylor is a humility that seems at odds with the scale of her achievement. So, how does it feel to be the centre of attention? 

“I think people have recognised what this means to me, and that’s been really nice,” she says. “I guess, with Telemark not being an Olympic discipline, we never really expect to get that sort of profile, so to have people realising what this means and that others are enjoying it, like my coaching team and beyond, it really means a lot.” 

And those celebrations are more than justified, with Taylor securing both the Sprint and the Overall Crystal Globes for the 2023/24 Telemark season, the first in a career that’s seen her finish runner up in Overall, Sprint, Classic, and Parallel Sprint standings over the past decade. It’s a weight of pressure that she openly acknowledges got into her head at various points of the season. 

“Going into those final races, I was definitely stressed,” she laughs. “I really, really wanted it [the Overall Globe]. I’d put myself in a good position after the Livigno races, but I wasn’t safe, so it wasn’t easy to sleep, wasn’t easy to eat. You’re trying so hard to stay focused, but of course it ends up in your mind, and your brain’s just going through all of these circumstances, and the more you try to push it away, the more those thoughts come.” 

Finding the resolve to get past it took some close support, and a fairytale ending. 

“My family actually came out for the last races,” Taylor says, “so in the end it was kind of a fairytale because my mum and dad, my partner, my grandma were all there, and they provided a really good, positive distraction. Just at that time, I was so happy to see them and have them there with me, and that just gave me the positive distraction I needed to get out of my head a little bit.” 

Taylor secured the Sprint Globe the week before after the penultimate round of races in Italy, but needed a result in the very last race of the season, the Parallel Sprint, to secure her place at the top of the Overall standings. 

“It all came down to the final Parallel Sprint,” she explains, “and I’m very hit-and-miss with Parallel. Sometimes I’ll do really well, sometimes I won’t, and I was just thinking ‘oh my god, everything’s resting on this race’. 

“I know it’s more my perception than anything, but with Parallel I always feel like I can’t control the outcome as much as I can in other events, and before qualification we’d worked out that I had to finish sixth if Goril [Strom Eriksen, who was sitting second in the Overall standings] won, and Parallel’s her strongest event. I didn’t want to leave anything to chance, so to put myself in a really good position I knew I needed to win or come second in qualifiers.” 

It was a situation that created an almost impossible level of stress for Taylor and her team. 

“I was with my teammates before the start, and it was almost funny because there was so much pressure there. It almost became a bit of a joke, because in that moment something just lifted in my mind, and I remember thinking to myself ‘this is daft, you can’t take this as seriously as all that’.” 

Whatever mental adjustments she was able to make worked, because Taylor flew through qualification and left herself needing only to finish the first round of the Parallel Finals to secure victory. 

“I passed the finish line ahead and won the first heat, and that was the moment I knew I’d secured the Overall Globe. I was on the lift going back up, and my coach Seb was on the side in coach’s corner, and I said to him ‘Seb, I think I’ve done it’, and he’s like, ‘yep, yep, you’ve done it’. I just said to him, ‘so what do I do now?’ and he looked at me and said, ‘Jaz, I don’t care!’. It ended up being probably the strangest race of my life, because I just felt like everything fell into place for me. I was totally relaxed, skiing, and having fun with my teammates.” 

It ended up giving Taylor her only Parallel Sprint victory of the season, alongside four Sprint discipline World Cup victories, and a further six World Cup podiums. 

The seeds for the Overall crown were sown in the first weeks of the season, where Taylor rattled off a scarcely believable four consecutive Sprint victories to pull away from the field in the season’s first four World Cup races. For Taylor, though, it was the prelude to a real struggle. 

“At the start of the season I was quite relaxed, I think, but going into the Norwegian and Swiss races, things started to unravel for me a bit,” she recalls. 

“We had some racing in Switzerland, and I had a big crash in qualification in the Parallel, and ended up not putting a single point on the board that day. I think that’s the moment I realised that the stress was getting to me, because my first thought wasn’t for my health, but for the points, and it just hammered home for me how much I wanted the Overall title this year.” 

Pulling out of the spiral was a real battle. 

“After Norway, my lead in the Overall was 23 points, so as far as I was concerned I might as well have lost the lead. It was as good as being back at the start of the season again, and I was just thinking ‘I’ve blown it’.” 

In the end, a reset with her coach provided the impetus to make the final charge for the title. 

“I had a week off, just really took some time for myself, and then got back into training and I’d be there questioning everything, like ‘am I skiing well, am I jumping well, is my skating good?’, and Seb helped me to just try to forget about controlling every single part, and focus on the intention. Get from gate to gate. Move down the hill. Forget about everything else, and focus on the approach.” 

The approach paid dividends, as a set of dominant performances in Livigno (yielding two podiums in Sprint and a further in Classic) were followed by those final two podiums in Pra Loup, confirming the Sprint and Overall Globes would end the season in Taylor’s hands, sparking huge celebrations around Taylor and further afield. 

“The reaction has just been so lovely,” she says. “My family and my coach cried, and seeing all the responses from people on social media and just everywhere around you. All the restaurant workers, the people working the lifts all saying ‘well done’ or being out at the GB Alpine Championships [where Taylor foreran the GS race] and having all these people I’d not seen for maybe 10, 15 years saying congratulations, then you’re like ‘ah wow, okay, this means something to people’. That’s really what leaves me with a good feeling now.” 

Jaz and the GB Telemark team are running a crowdfunder to support the team’s on-going plans and the future of BRitish telemark. Find out more here

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