Gangwon 2024: Zak Carrick-Smith elated after making history. OIS/IOC.

Zak Carrick-Smith's gold medal at Gangwon 2024 is more than just a historic milestone for his country. The 17-year-old staged a sensational comeback in the men's combined to become the first Briton ever to win an Olympic Alpine title.

He also became the third British Youth Olympic Winter Games champion after Ashleigh Fay Pittaway in the girls' skeleton and Madison Rowlands in the girls' freestyle halfpipe, both in Lillehammer, Norway, in 2016.  "It's been amazing. Obviously I dreamed of bringing home a medal, especially in the technical events, but to do it in the combined is incredible. I think this gold medal is a real step forward for British alpine skiing," he told, hoping that his achievement will lay the foundations for a new generation. 

His performance was truly astonishing, finishing 27th in the Super-G with a time of 56.33, almost two seconds slower than Sweden's Elliot Westlund. But it was in the slalom that he showed all his talent, dominating the event with the best time (53.13) and chasing gold in the combined event with a time of 1:49.46, just 13 hundredths of a second faster than Sweden's Alexander Ax Swartz.

Two days later, Carrick-Smith completed another great day by winning a silver medal in the men's giant slalom in a time of 1:35.30, 93 hundredths of a second slower than the winner, France's Nash Huot-Marchand. He beat Austria's Florian Neymayer by just seven hundredths.

Zak Carrick-Smith, with the silver medal he won in the giant slalom. FACEBOOK
Zak Carrick-Smith, with the silver medal he won in the giant slalom. FACEBOOK

Carrick-Smith has also been inspired by the rise of British skiers and says that seeing three of them finish in the top 20 at the recent Kitzbühel slalom gave him extra motivation. "I watched the race and I thought maybe I could do it. So I went on the next day and I won gold in the Alpine combined. I grew up in France, in the Alps. I fell in love with the sport when I was two or three years old. And from then on I've just been skiing all my life," he told 

His mother Emma Carrick-Anderson, a four-time Olympian, moved to Tignes after her retirement to work as a ski instructor and married fellow skier Phil Smith. She also coaches Carrick-Smith along with his twin brother Freddy and his older brother Luca. 

"She's like a role model, because that's what I want to do: I want to go to the Olympics and compete for GB. It's amazing because when we're on the mountain, she's a coach. And then after the race, she's a mum. And then off the slopes she's also a mentor. She's a bit of all three," admitted Carrick-Smith. 

Since then, Dave Ryding has taken the country to new heights, reaching the podium seven times on the sport's premier circuit and even becoming the first Briton to win a World Cup race in 2022: "He's the best British skier. We like to think of him as our national hero," said Zak Carrick-Smith, who sometimes trains with him. 

Dave Ryding is now by far the best British skier. GETTY IMAGES
Dave Ryding is now by far the best British skier. GETTY IMAGES

"He is an older rider on the World Cup circuit, so I think he has a lot of wisdom. He gave me advice to never give up and just keep pushing because he started quite old, and he didn't start off winning. And he just kept pushing, pushing, pushing until he won his first World Cup gold for Great Britain. I like to think of myself as humble and passionate. And I think I have a lot of determination," the teenager concluded. 

As well as skiing, Carrick-Smith is also interested in photography and film-making, and enjoys spending time surfing with his brothers in Cornwall. However, one of his most curious hobbies is crocheting: "Back in 2020, during the lockdown, my two brothers and I were getting a bit bored around the house, so we decided to take up crocheting," he recalls. 

"We joined a class and really struggled at first, but then we slowly got better. Then we started doing it on our own, looking for patterns online and making giant toys. And then we thought, ‘Why not make a little business out of it? Why not make a little business out of it? So we all started selling stuff and making some money," he added. 

Carrick-Smith is also a talented freestyle skier and diver who loves to perform flips on both snow and water, something well-documented on his social media profile. He also showed off some impressive basketball shooting skills at the Youth Olympic Village in Jeongseon.