Hudec made history in 2014 when he became the first Canadian in 20 years to win an alpine Olympic medal after tying for bronze in the super-G in Sochi, Russia. One of the world's most naturally gifted racers, Hudec has a unique personal story that begins with his family fleeing their Czech homeland in a boat when he was a young child. After spending time in a West German refugee camp, the Hudecs eventually settled in Alberta. Hudec's ski career is a testament to his perseverance, having fought back from multiple major knee surgeries and other serious injuries. Nicknamed Panda, he became the first Canadian to win the Lake Louise World Cup downhill in 2009. He also claimed a world championship silver medal that year.
1st – Downhill – FIS World Cup – Chamonix, FRA (2012)
1st – Downhill – FIS World Cup - Lake Louise, CAN (2007)
2nd – Downhill – World Ski Championships - Are, SWE (2007)
3rd - Super-G - Olympic Winter Games - Sochi, RUS (2014)
World Cup rankings
Birth date: 19/08/1981
Birth place: Sumperk, Czech Republic
Residence: Calgary, Alta.
Hometown: Calgary, Alta.
Ski club: Banff Alpine Racers
Made team: 1999
Sponsor: Blue Goose Capital Corp., pandaHAUS
Weight: 205 pounds
Nicknames: Panda. It started about four years ago, when John-o started calling me Panda. I’m a little round and furry like a panda, and seem slow and nice, but when it’s time to fight...it’s on. I bring my game.
First memory of skiing: What is your first memory of skiing? Crying. I was 3 years old and skiing with my mom in Austria. I think she thought I was crying because I was cold and having a tantrum, but looking back, I think I was crying because I had ski boots literally strapped to a plastic ski with no edges and I was so frustrated because I couldn’t edge.
Best moment in ski racing: Winning the downhill in Chamonix, France, in 2012.
Worst moment in ski racing: I’ve had lots of crashes and injuries, but I think one of my worst moments was the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. My effort was there and my performance was actually quite good – I stepped up my game like crazy for that event – but I started so far back, that it was just one of those races where I was on the wrong side of the numbers. It was frustrating to have an opportunity, but not really have an opportunity.
What is your Olympic dream? I don’t really have one. I try to win every race.
If you could listen to one song before leaving the start gate, what would it be? ‘Sound of Madness’ by Shinedown.
If you could bring any three people in the world - living or from the past - to one of your races, who would they be? My grandma on my dad’s side. She was actually the first ski racer in the family. I’d also bring my son Oaklee, and my brother Phil.
Hidden talent: Playing the drums and writing. Lots of people know I play the drums, but not many people know I love to write. I also own an eyeglass and optometry boutique in Calgary, Alta., called Banker’s Vision,
If you had just one day left to live, how would you spend it? With my son. Probably going on a roadtrip.
If you could own a business or be trained in any career other than ski racing, what would you choose? Music. For the passion.
When I’m not skiing, you can probably find me: Selling glasses, riding my Harley, or playing music.
What’s the best thing about your hometown? Calgary is a great community filled with amazing people. It’s close to the mountains and the airport – can’t ask for much more.
Name the most surprising thing in your suitcase when you’re on the road: Business books. It’s the only time I have to read anything, and now that I own my own business, I need to know what’s going on otherwise there’s potential to lose that investment. Do or die.
Describe your favourite thing to eat or drink during race season: Tiramisu from Bormio, Italy, from this hotel called Larice Bianco. It’s amazing.
If you could design your own World Cup spot anywhere in the world, where would it be? New Zealand. It’s stunning there.
Where is your favourite place to race or train? I love racing at Lake Louise, because it’s at home. The crowd is great and it’s nice to be able to showcase what I do to friends and family. Wengen, Switerzerland, is also great because it has a bit of everything.
If you could have one superpower, what would it be? The ability to time travel because I never seem to have enough time.
If you could build your dream home anywhere in the world, where would it be? I’d build two. One in Prague, Czech Republic, and one in Calgary, Alta.
What’s the funniest thing you’ve seen a teammate do while on the road? Probably having a firecracker fight between two team vehicles in Austria.
Who is someone you admire in sport? I admire any athlete who has the tenacity to overcome the obstacles of being a professional athlete.