Sochi bronze medallist Jan Hudec – the first Canadian in 20 years to win an alpine Olympic medal – is sitting out the final two World Cup races of the season after suffering a back injury in training.
The 32-year-old Canadian Cowboy from Calgary, Alta., whose career is a testament to his ability to bounce back from numerous injury issues, says he’s determined to return stronger than ever after being sidelined by an injury that kept him out of Wednesday’s downhill and will force him to miss Thursday’s super-G at the World Cup finals in Lenzerheide, Switzerland.
Hudec crashed during super-G training in Austria last week. On Friday, he’ll return to Canada with his teammates to receive further treatment for his back problem. He’ll also sit out the Sport Chek Canadian Championships in Whistler, B.C., later this month to refocus on healing up and returning to training as soon as possible in the summer.
“The Olympics ignited a flame within me. To come away from the Games with that experience motivates me to keep going and keep on racing,” said Hudec, who had two podiums this season and is ranked eighth in the world in super-G.
“I know there’s a lot more in me and there are things I want to achieve in this sport. When I’m healthy, that’s when I get excited to race so I’m looking forward to building on this season and coming back healthy.”
Hudec is one of the most naturally gifted racers on the World Cup circuit, but he’s had to overcome more than his fair share of injury setbacks. He’s had seven knee surgeries, but it was a back problem that interrupted his summer and fall training and saw him go into the season with less time to prepare – on or off snow – than he would have liked.
Despite that, he was able to put together a strong World Cup season that included two top-10s in downhill and a second-place finish in Val Gardena, Italy. Three of Hudec’s five career World Cup podiums have come in the past two seasons and that fact, allied to his historic Olympic bronze medal in super-G, has given him cause for optimism.
“If all goes well with the back I could return to training as early as May,” said Hudec, who will be assessed by a medical team upon returning home but is expected to need at least six to eight weeks off training. “I’ll have more time to prepare for the season and hope to come back stronger.”
On Thursday, Hudec watched his teammates, Erik Guay and Manny Osborne-Paradis, in action from the comfort of his hotel room in Munich, Germany. He’ll do the same during Thursday’s super-G before all three fly back to Canada on Friday.
“I will be watching the race and cheering the guys on,” said Hudec, who is nicknamed ‘Panda’ after the character from the Kung Fu Panda movie.
“Manny sent me a note to ask if there’s anything I need him to do and I told him to go win some medals.”
Photo of Jan Hudec courtesy of Alpine Canada.
SnowOnline Editor: Lori Knowles