MEN JAN HUDEC
CANADIAN ALPINE SKIER OF THE YEAR
What an interesting character Jan Hudec is. Czech-born of
skiing parents, he spent most of his first five years in a West
German refugee camp with frequent ski trips to Austria, and
then arrived in Canada, at age five, in 1986. The family — now
expanded with younger brother Phil — moved to Banff, Alberta,
when both parents got employment with the Mountain Ski Acad-
emy in ‘89.
He was a natural, a strong skier with a knack for speed, but it
seemed as soon as he started making an international impact,
the injuries began to crop up. After his first knee reconstruc-
tion, his first top-five World Cup finish at Garmisch in 2007
started a roll of success that had him earmarked for greatness.
He followed up with a third at Bormio — which he calls one of
his proudest moments — and a silver medal at the 2007 World
Championships. He scored his first win, at home at Lake Lou-
ise, to kick off the 2008 season, but then a crash while training
at Wengen tore up the knee again. The left knee suffered the
same fate after a crash in the 2009 World Championships at Val
d’Isere, and in 2011 he fractured his right hand, again, at Wen-
gen. With chronic back pain overriding everything else, Hudec
struggled though 2011. This season, however, he rebounded.
Opening with a fourth in the Lake Louise super G was nice and
he got another pair of top- 10 results through January. The Ca-
nadian team, dwindled by injury, came alive at the end of Janu-
ary at Garmisch when teammate Erik Guay tallied a second-
place finish that seemed to galvanize the squad.
In back-to-back downhills at Chamonix, a small mistake proved
just costly enough and he finished sixth in the opener. But the
team seemed to have found the right line down the tricky course
and on Day 2 Hudec nailed it, grabbing the win. With just three
men in the race, Canada had Hudec in first, Guay in third and
50th-starting Benjamin Thomsen in fifth. It was an historic Cana-
Two weeks later, in horrendously soft conditions at Crans Mon-
tana, Hudec added a second-place super G result.
He would close the season with his best overall ranking (16th)
and top 10 in both of his events, downhill (ninth) and super G
(sixth). All that remains is to stay healthy.
“He had his best World Cup season ever; he’s been really
consistent,” coach Paul Kristofic said. “It’s been a great season,
all in all. There are lots of areas to get better in but we can start
next season in a really good place.”