Hudec pumped for home race

Outlook File photo

Jan Hudec competes at the 2007 Alpine Ski World Championship in Sweden, where he won a silver medal.

By Jason Pirie

The Bombardier Lake Louise Winterstart World Cup event is looming and Jan Hudec, one of numerous Bow Valley participants about to compete in front of the hometown fans later this month, is having trouble holding back his excitement.

Hudec, a Banff native who last February came back after three consecutive knee injuries to win silver in the downhill at the 2007 World Championships in Are, Sweden, said he's ecstatic for the chance to once again race on home turf - a hill that he first began skiing on as an 11-year-old.

"It's going to awesome," Hudec said, prior to departing on Tuesday for Colorado's Copper Mountain Ski Resort for last-minute World Cup preparations. "It was a great experience at Lake Louise last year. When you arrive at the finish it's amazing to look up and see so many familiar faces in the crowd.

"My entire family is going to be there again this year," he added. "Everyone from my parents to my wife and her family, to my brother and to my cousins. I'm really looking forward to it."

After sustaining such a high number of major injuries early in his career,

Hudec said physically he feels great and can't wait to embark on the newly opened 2007-08 season. He admitted to setting personal goals of besting last year's 26th and 28th overall results in the Super-G and Downhill.

"I know there are high expectations for me to do well this year, but mine are pretty high too," he said. "I feel really good right now. My goal is to finish in the top-10 by the end of the season. I realize I've set the bar high for myself, but I think you have to."

Other local Canadian National Team members participating at the highly-anticipated event include Paul Stutz, Shona Rubens, Alison Forsyth and 2006 Bombardier Winterstart Men's Super-G champion John Kucera of Calgary.

Lake Louise has been hosting World Cup races since 1989 and Matt Mosteller, senior director for Resorts of the Canadian Rockies, says it is both an honour and privilege to host the world-class skiing events.

"It's a big part of our pride and care for the Canadian National Ski Team and the Canadian community," Mosteller said. "And it's a tribute to all the volunteers who put in a significant amount of their own time. It takes thousands of hours and hundreds of people to create the race track, but our staff is excited to support the Canadian athletes in achieving their goals.

"It makes us proud to see them doing so well," he added. "Kids look up to

these athletes, and that only helps the sport grow. Our connection with the Canadian National Team has been a pleasure."

According to Mosteller, with an abundance of homegrown talent competing, an event such as this gives the Bow Valley competitors a chance to show off their national pride to the rest of the world, directly from their very own doorstep.

"To watch athletes like Paul Stutz and Jan Hudec on the world stage makes us very proud," he said.

"Jan came up to us after the Lake Louise downhill last season and told us how much it meant to him to be competing here. He said having his family and the Canadian fans here to cheer him on made for an unbelievable feeling. Jan and Paul are such great representatives for not only Banff, but for the entire Bow Valley."

Racing will get underway with the men's Bombardier Winterstart Downhill and Super-G on Nov. 24-25, while the ladies' DH and Super-G events are slated for Dec. 1-2.

The Lake Louise Winterstart World Cup event kicks-off the 2007-08

speed season, and is part of a record 10 World Cup races scheduled for Canada this winter.

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