Jan Hudec started off this season with questions about injuries and retirement plans, telling reporters that he was nowhere near ready to put away his long skis. Turns out he was right.
Now he has two medals to his credit, adding a silver on Friday, Feb. 24 in the men's super G at Crans-Montana, Switzerland. It was Canada's fifth medal in as many races, with teammate Erik Guay winning two of his own this season and national team sophomore Ben Thomsen improving his start position from week-to-week to put himself in a position to earn a silver medal two weeks ago.
"Thank goodness," said Hudec after his race. "I'm glad I finally got one in super G. It was a little bit bumpy when I went down but it really deteriorated for the other guys. It was like plus 10 (degrees Celsius) on the hill.
"The (medal) streak is pretty awesome. We just need to keep the momentum going. The other guys who have been part of the streak are really disappointed today, but Erik definitely knows he can be in there."
Didier Cuche of Switzerland laid down the fastest time on his home track, with Hudec following by just 16 one-hundredths of a second. Austria's Benjamin Raich was third.
Erick Guay finished his day in 13th, while Jeffrey Frisch picked up his first top 30 since 2009 with a 23rd place result. Dustin Cook, Louis-Pierre Helie and Benjamin Thomsen finished outside of the top 30 in 35th, 45th and 47th respectively.
Men's speed coach Johno McBride was confident that the men's speed team would be able to continue the streak. "We're keeping it rolling," he said. "What's the secret? More than anything it's good energy and a sense of confidence. Guys are believing in what they are doing and believing in themselves."
The men's speed team is also not at capacity right now with 2009 world downhill champion John Kucera working his way back and Robbie Dixon on the sidelines with a head injury.
The next day, in a second super G race, Hudec came within a quarter of a second of his second podium in as many days with his fifth place finish. Austria's Benjamin Raich took the win, followed by Adrien Theaux of France and Didier Cuche of Switzerland.
Hudec knew it was within his ability to repeat his podium performance from the day before but made a few errors on the lower section of the course.
"I really felt like I had a chance," he said. "After losing time on the bottom yesterday I really wanted to make sure I was fighting the whole way down. I did that but I ended up making a few mistakes. I'm still satisfied with my approach and my skiing."
Hudec, who has been consistent even when he's been out of medal contention, has moved up to third in the overall World Cup rankings.
While a fifth-place result ended Canada's streak at four podiums, the team is looking good coming into the end of the season. Erick Guay was 13th once again in the second race and is currently ranked seventh in downhill and 13th in super G.
Ben Thomsen was out of contention pretty much from the start with Bib 66, and moved up to 42nd.
The other Canadians — Jeffrey Frisch, Louis-Pierre Helie and Dustin Cook — were among the 18 athletes that crashed or skied off course with the difficult track set and warm snow.
The last event in Switzerland was the giant slalom. It was a tough day for Canada with Jean-Philippe Roy crashing on the soft snow and Dustin Cook placing well short of the top 30 after the first run and finishing 42nd.
Roy still has a chance of racing the GS at the World Cup finals in Austria. You have to be ranked into the top 25 to take part and after Switzerland he was 29th — 14 points back of the 25th spot with one race to go at Kranjska Gora, Slovenia.
The women's speed team also competed last weekend with a downhill and super G at Bansko, Bulgaria.
It was a tough week overall after the downhill race was cancelled due to the high winds. In the super G, both Marie-Pier Prefontaine and Larisa Yurkiw skied off course.
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