The men’s Canadian Alpine Ski Team proved that last season’s record medal haul was no fluke, picking up where they left off with athletes on the podium and in the top-10 in downhill and super G races last weekend at Lake Louise.
Calgary’s Jan Hudec made history on Saturday by becoming the first Canadian skier to win on the downhill course at Lake Louise. He was also the second Canadian male to win a downhill at home, following the tracks made by Whistler’s Rob Boyd in 1989.
Hudec, who also posted the fastest time in the final training run on Friday, finished the course in one minute, 42.79 seconds, beating out Marco Sullivan of the U.S. and Andreas Buder of Austria.
Hudec won silver in the world championship downhill last year, but never finished better than fifth in a World Cup downhill race.
“It’s incredible,” said Hudec. “Our team is so pumped up right now and so strong. To have guys like Erik (Guay) come up to me and say ‘good run, that was amazing skiing’ really means a lot to me.
“Any one of the guys from our team could have won today, you saw Johnny (Kucera) coming from the back to finish seventh. It’s incredible — we’re doing all the right things.”
Kucera’s seventh place finish was less than six-tenths of a second back of Hudec, while Erik Guay finished 17 th . Francois Bourque was 34 th , Manuel Osborne-Paradis 40 th , Gareth Sine 56 th and Robbie Dixon 58 th .
The Canadians were back in form the next day in the super G. The margins between skiers were razor thin, with Erik Guay missing the podium by just six hundredths of a second to place fifth. John Kucera was seventh once again, and Hudec placed eighth, to give the Canada three spots in the top-10.
Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway took the gold, followed by Benjamin Raich of Austria and Didier Cuche of Switzerland. Andrej Jerman of Slovenia came out of nowhere to place fourth, just ahead of Guay.
While fifth is nothing to sneeze at, Guay was clearly disappointed in the outcome.
“A couple of years ago fifth would have been great for me but I think you get that direction and that drive to want to be on the podium all the time,” he said. Guay was slower on the bumpy top half of the course, but posted one of the fastest times on the smoother bottom half to take over the lead for a while before being bumped back by the top-seeded skiers.