Canada made history in Chamonix, France,today (Jan. 4) as Jan Hudec, Erik Guay and Ben Thomsen finished first, third and fifth, respectively, in the Audi FIS World Cup downhill.
Hudec, from Calgary, Alta., claimed his first World Cup podium since 2007 with a blistering run that pushed his teammate Guay, of Mont-Tremblant, Que., into third - his 17th career World Cup podium and second in successive weekends. Young Ben Thomsen, of Invermere, B.C., then produced the run of his life to move all the way up to fifth despite starting 50th.
"For us to have a race like this with three guys in the top five, I mean, I think we blew everyone out of the water today," said the 30-year-old Hudec. "I think everyone who was up on the hill was either impressed or stoked for us, or both. It was incredible. It was against the odds but I think we're doing everything in our power to put ourselves in that position.
"Erik and I kind of got our revenge from yesterday, being so close to the podium," added Hudec of Friday's downhill in Chamonix, in which Guay was tied for fourth and Hudec was sixth. "Benni came down out of 50th in bad light and just absolutely hammered that thing. I think it just goes to show that, it doesn't matter about your age, it doesn't matter how long you've been skiing the track. As long as we are sticking together and kind of working together every single day to get faster, our whole team can be successful."
It's the first time since 2007 that Canada has had two men on the World Cup podium in alpine skiing, when Guay and Manuel Osborne-Paradis were second and third in Val d'Isere, France. It's also the best result for the men's team since 1994, when Ed Podivinsky and Cary Mullen were first and second, respectively, in Saalbach, Austria. The last time the women's alpine team had two on the podium in the World Cup was in 2005 in Santa Caterina, Italy, when Genevieve Simard was second and Allison Forsyth was third. Gerry Sorensen, Laurie Graham and Dianne Lehodey were first, third and fifth in downhill at the world championships in Schladming, Austria, in 1982.
Hudec, starting 24th, clocked a time of two minutes, 3.25 seconds Saturday to claim his third career World Cup podium and the second victory of his career. His first came in a downhill in Lake Louise, Alta., in November 2007. Saturday's win came after years of battling knee, back, hand and other injuries.
"Living a life of mostly rehab can get tedious after a while and frustrating," said Hudec, who is ranked ninth in the world in downhill after Saturday's result. "I never stopped believing I could be back. I obviously had no idea how long it would take or when it would happen. I could just kind of smell it. To be on the podium after all these years and all these injuries is just an amazing feeling."