Marvin I. Crawford, one of those accomplished skiers who helped put Steamboat Springs on the map, won fourteen national championships and represented the United States in an Olympics and World Championship during his outstanding career.
But it is as much for a unique ability in another phase of the ski sport that he was named to the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame in 1979. Crawford is considered, by many, as the finest four-way skier who ever lived and competed at a time when all-around ability was the measure of the man. It may seem unlikely in this age of specialization, but Crawford possessed uncommon ability in not one event, but four – downhill, slalom, jumping and cross-country. Such versatility made Crawford history’s most successful collegiate skier and helped Willy Schaeffler lay the groundwork for his dynasty of national championships at the University of Denver.
Not surprisingly, Schaeffler has called Crawford the greatest skier he ever coached.
Folks around Steamboat Springs, accustomed to seeing young skiers working their way toward the Olympics, took early note of Crawford. As a lad of twelve, he sailed off Steamboat’s big ninety-meter jumping hill, a flight that still brings fear and trepidation to many veteran adult competitors.
Two years later, competing in an age group for skiers eighteen and under, he won the national junior jumping championship. And when he did advance to the top of this age bracket, he established a national jumping record of 290 feet.
But versatility always has been Crawford’s hallmark and he demonstrated this by winning the National Junior Alpine Championship at age seventeen. Crawford won every four-way competition he ever entered and in several meets, won three of the four events outright.
Most notable was his feat as a college junior in 1953, when he won the jump, cross-country and slalom events at the NCAA Championship. Moreover, he barely missed in the downhill, finishing second by two-tenths of a second. In the 1956 Olympics in Cortina, Italy, Crawford compiled the highest combined point total ever by an American while placing twenty-third.
He has served as director of the Rocky Mountain Division of the U.S. Ski Association and, in recognition for his many years of service to the sport, the U.S. Ski Association awarded him its coveted Halstead Trophy.
He and wife Edie raised three sons as ski competitors. Their son Gary was also a member of the U.S. Nordic Combined Team.
Crawford possessed uncommon ability in not one event, but four – downhill, slalom, jumping and cross-country.