Canadians Excel at Chamonix Alpine Skiing World Cup
With temperatures dropping to minus 15 degrees during the Men’s Alpine Skiing World Cup held at Chamonix this past weekend, the three Canadian skiers who started the race all finished in the top five. Jan Hudec of Calgary overcame injury obstacles that have plagued him recently to claim the gold medal, being his first since his downhill victory at Lake Louise in November 2007. Eric Guay of Mont-Tremblant took the bronze with Ben Thomsen of Invermere completing the event in fifth place. In a post-race interview, the team’s head coach Paul Kristofics noted that having all three competitors finish in the top five was amazing.
While the accomplishments of all the team members were noteworthy, for Jan Hudec it was a particularly meaningful victory in light of his six knee surgeries and continuing back problems. Delighted with the results of the race Hudec said that he had started the day free from pain for the first time in a long time and knew this was his opportunity to put his career back on track. With the icy slopes particularly suited to Hudec’s gliding skills, the skier completed the race in 2 minutes 3.25 seconds. Reigning world downhill champion, Guay came in 0.63 seconds behind the winner. Austria‘s Romed Baumann took silver with a time of 2 minutes, 3.78 seconds.
Commenting on the team’s performance, Hudec said “I think we blew everybody out of the water.” He also pointed out that while the results were against the odds, he thought the team members had done everything in their power to put themselves in the position to win. Referring to his injuries, Hudec said that although it would have been nice to make it to this point in his career without so many injuries, he felt that these obstacles have made his victory “that much sweeter.”
Teammate Guay was reported as saying that recent injuries in the team had resulted in a loss of momentum, but he noted that Jan Hudec’s return has been a motivating force for himself personally, and for the team. Certainly, Hudec’s will to overcome seemingly insurmountable health problems can serve as an inspiration to many.