Oh, Canada! Jan Hudec wins downhill, Erik Guay 3rd

JEROME PUGMIRE AP Sports Writer Published:

CHAMONIX, France (AP) -- In a great day for Canadian skiing, Jan Hudec won a World Cup downhill for a surprising victory while teammate Erik Guay finished third in piercing cold over an icy slope.

Hudec, whose career has been blighted by knee injuries and operations, won for the first time in more than four years Saturday. He thumped his chest with his fist when he realized his long wait had ended.

With temperatures at minus 15 at the top of the course, he finished in 2 minutes, 3.25 seconds, followed by Austria's Romed Baumann in 2:03.78. Guay was 0.63 seconds behind the winner.

Benjamin Thomsen added to the Canadian surge by sneaking into fifth place despite being the 50th skier to go down.

Switzerland's Beat Feuz was fourth, with Austria's Klaus Kroell sixth and Switzerland's Didier Cuche seventh. The top U.S. skier was Bode Miller in eight place. Miller, who was second in Friday's downhill, lost time in the bottom section after making a solid start.

Hudec was trailing Baumann until he reached the midsection and then started shaving huge chunks off the Austrian's time. While Kroell won Friday's downhill by just 0.01 seconds, Hudec smashed Baumann's time by 0.53 to deprive the Austrians of a second straight win.

This was Hudec's second World Cup victory and first since his downhill triumph at Lake Louise, Alberta, in November 2007. The 30-year-old skier had started that year promisingly with a silver medal at the worlds in Are, Sweden, and ended it with a third-place finish in a World Cup downhill at Bormio, Italy, a month later.

Then his career nosedived -- he tore ligaments in his right knee and needed repeated surgery.

Hudec's run was even more special because he did not have the best light after starting 24th on the La Verte des Houches course. Those before had blue skies and profited from brighter sunshine.

After a tricky and technical top section, Hudec found himself behind Baumann, but as he started to pick up speed he went 0.36, 0.47 and 0.54 ahead of the Austrian at successive splits.