Canada dominates DH in Chamonix; Hudec claims victory
By Ana Jelusic, courtesy of www.fisalpine.com
Chamonix, France (Sports Network) - Jan Hudec was the man of the day in Chamonix. With a time of 2 minutes, 03.25 seconds, the Canadian skier proved to be unbeatable in the second Downhill disputed in the French resort. Romed Baumann, who was already celebrating his victory, got pushed into second place, 0.53 behind Hudec. Erik Guay rounded out the podium in third, making this an amazing day for team Canada.
Canada had plenty of reasons to celebrate already when Benjamin Thomsen came flying down form bib 50 into fifth position. So, three out of five were Canadians at the top today.
Hudec, a 31 years old veteran on the Tour counts two career podiums, both dating back to 2007 and a silver medal in the Downhill at the World Championships in Are, Sweden the same year. After years of injuries and comebacks, he took his revenge today.
"When I saw the green light in the finish, it was as a thousand pounds was lifted off my shoulders. So many years of anticipation, and now finally... I knew I was having a good run; I might have been smiling the last 40 seconds of the race," Hudec said.
"The story of my career is that there have always been some obstacles, but I learned some big life lessons along the way and at the end of the day, this is just skiing and there is a whole life beside it. But today I learned also that all the hard work I put into it, eventually has to pay off. "
Hudec has a very special fan, a 5 years old son who is his biggest admirer.
"My son thinks I am always winning, even when I am twentieth he is still happy so this victory is also for him. I'm so blessed to have this amazing boy and to be able to share this victory with him...I just wish he was here"
It has been five years since Hudec stood on the podium and today was a really emotional day for him.
"By the time I won my first race in Lake Louise, I already had 2-3 knee surgeries. This time around the story is similar but I think that sometimes the older you are, the more injuries you have you get put on the side and have people not count on you...But this is the product of 10 years of skiing and everything else, so it's special the same yet different in it's own way."
The last time there were two Canadians on the podium was in January of 2007 in Val d'Isere. Erik Guay was second while Manuel Osborne-Paradis got third.
"It was at an other French resort," Guay said. "Last time it was Manny, this time I am really happy to be up there with Jan."
It was a cold, cold morning in Chamonix and not even the Canadians, who are normally well adjusted to the low temperatures likes it.
"It has been so cold this morning that I only did one short warm up run, went for inspection and than waited at the lodge till I got to start. It really was brutally cold out there and our serviceman did a great job with the skis. There is a big part of the course at the bottom which is flat and it worked," Hudec said.
Guay couldn't stop praising his winner teammate.
"Jan picked up half a second in that lower section. He is best when he is relaxed and fluid - than nobody can touch him in the flats," he said.
On the road together all winter, teams from overseas are forced to build somewhat tighter bonds than those who have a home to go back to in Europe.
"It's important for us even more than for the European teams to get along during the season," Hudec said. "Opposed to them, we don't have the chance to get away from each other for a few days every now and than. We have to stick together and work as a team. Not only because we have to but it would be a deathly long season if everyone hated each other. As seen today, if you work as a team it eventually pays of. It's like a snowball effect, if one guy can be on the podium and do it all the others can."
This is the second podium finish for Guay this season. After a fourth place in Bormio, he got second in Garmisch-Partenkirchen a week ago. In the first race in Chamonix, he was again fourth, a mere .04 seconds off third place.
"I just think that all week I was fast on the flats, my serviceman did a great job and my skis were rocket-ships," Guay said. "The place where I think I lost it all week was in the top part, I wasn't competitive in the top section and I made a small mistake coming out of the big turn. But that's what ski racing is about, you sometimes push hard and it leads to mistakes."
Guay, who is better known for his technical than his gliding skills never quite "got along" with the Chamonix slope, this changed today.
"Chamonix hasn't been good to me in the past, I love the area but I never managed to do a good result here. Being on the podium makes me like it a little bit better. I still do prefer a bit more challenging courses, the ones where I get a rush when I get to the bottom and want to do it again but it's always fun when you are on the podium."
Today's "Lucky Loser", if we might call it so is Romed Baumann. He was safely in the lead by the time Hudec started. The whole top group was down and it didn't look like anyone could take the victory for him. That was until Hudec's run.
"I maybe celebrated a little too early today. I didn't look at the start list and I didn't know Jan was still at the top. He did a really good job yesterday [he was sixth], he could have won this race already yesterday but had a big mistake. Today he just had a terrific run and it wasn't enough for me. I had a pretty good run in the top section and also not a bad one in the lower one, but I don't know where I lost that half of a second," Baumann said.
Tomorrow there is a Super Combined race and Baumann is always one of those to watch.
"My goal for the Super Combined is to be on the podium," he said. "But my Slalom this year has not been the best this year so I am hoping that it won't be too difficult tomorrow."
OFFICIAL RESULTS - Chamonix, France
1. Jan Hudec, CAN, 2:03.25; 2. Romed Baumann, AUT, 2:03.78; 3. Erik Guay, CAN, 2:03.88; 4. Beat Feuz, SUI, 2:04.00; 5. Benjamin Thomsen, CAN, 2:04.28; 6. Klaus Kroell, AUT, 2:04.33; 7. Didier Cuche, SUI, 2:04.36; 8. Bode Miller, USA, 2:04.44; 9. Johan Clarey, 2:04.49; 10. Andrej Sporn, SLO, 2:04.53.
Other North Americans
12. Erik Fisher, USA, 2:04.68; 27. Travis Ganong, USA, 2:05.75; 36. Marco Sullivan, USA, 2:05.99.
Did not finish 1st run
Wiley Maple, USA
02/04 11:18:38 ET