Second podium finish career highlight for Hudec

SUN MEDIA NEWS SERVICES

, Last Updated: 7:31 AM ET

BORMIO, Italy -- Jan Hudec won bronze yesterday for his second World Cup podium of the season, an accomplishment the Canadian skier said is one of his career highlights.

Hudec completed the 3.270-km Stelvio course in two minutes 01.11 seconds. American Bode Miller won gold in 2:00.57 and Andreas Buder of Austria was second, 0.45 seconds behind.

Hudec opened the World Cup season last month with a victory at Lake Louise. The 26-year-old Calgary resident also won a silver medal in the downhill at last year's world Alpine ski championships.

After battling through knee problems throughout his career, Hudec said it's particularly satisfying to get results on one of the toughest courses on the World Cup circuit.

"To come back after all that and have a good race here I think is more important for me mentally than Lake Louise or the world championships ever was," Hudec said. "I'm just really proud of my accomplishment in Bormio."

Two other Canadians joined Hudec in the top 10. Erik Guay of Mont-Tremblant, Que., was eighth in 2:01.59 and John Kucera of Calgary was 10th in 2:01.92.

Hudec is ranked fourth in the World Cup downhill rankings with 174 points and is 10th in the overall standings.

He said he took about a week off over Christmas to rest his right knee after he "tweaked" it earlier this month in Val Gardena, Italy. Hudec said the relaxation time left him physically and mentally ready.

"I kind of had to take a different game plan here," Hudec said. "But all in all, obviously when you have a couple of good results, the confidence grows. I have good equipment and everything else - so every little aspect helps.

"Obviously, for everything to come together at a race like this, it's very important to me."

Head coach Paul Kristofic was pleased with the team's performance.

"Jan had a really good race, probably the best downhill run of his career," Kristofic said. "He is definitely on the right track."

Manuel Osborne-Paradis of Vancouver was 16th and Gareth Sine of Calgary did not finish.

"We had three guys in the top 10, which makes us the best nation today," Kristofic said. "It's satisfying and we coaches are quite proud."


Photos