Hudec, Grugger, Goodman enjoy end of season powder
After the long World Cup season, the Canadian racers Jan Hudec and Anna Goodman, who announced her retirement just a fortnight ago, got to experience the beauty of the Canadian backcountry this week while out with Alpine Canada partner Mike Wiegele Helicopter Skiing in Blue River, B.C. Also enjoying the Canadian powder was Austrian Hans Grugger - with girlfriend and former racer Ingrid Rumpfhuber - who was seriously injured in a Kitzbühel downhill training 14 months ago. Since his crash Grugger has (free) skied some 40 days mostly around his home region Bad Gastein and also joined the Austria Ski Team for a few training days.
For this trip, Hudec, of Calgary, Alta., found another outlet for his love of snow sports and strapped on a snowboard. “It was amazing,” said Hudec, who won a World Cup downhill in Chamonix, France, on February 4. “It was like surfing powder all day, so it was actually pretty awesome.
“Everybody is tired (at the end of the season) but you don't ski stuff like this (every day) and it’s not just the skiing but the guests and the staff that you meet here – it’s relationships that last into the future – it’s one of those places you feel that you are welcome like you are at home and that’s something you can’t really beat.”
Hudec especially felt at home on this three-day trip as he had his younger brother Phil at his side. With Jan away racing, the brothers haven’t had many chances to spend time together. Except for a few runs with Jan’s son Oakley, the Hudec brothers haven’t even skied together since before Jan won the Lake Louise, Alta., World Cup downhill in 2007.
“Ironically, even though we both ski, we never ski together, so it was an amazing experience just to ski together,” explained the elder brother. “The conditions were amazing, the snow was deep and my brother - he’s a really good free rider - was jumping off really big cliffs.”
Mike Wiegele Helicopter Skiing (http://www.wiegele.com/), a family-run operation, has been hosting members of the Canadian Alpine Ski Team since the 1970s when Ken Read and Steve Podborski got to experience the often 10 metres of powder, 1,200,000 acres of ski terrain and over 1,000 peaks in the Cariboo and Monashee ranges of British Columbia.
Hudec was certainly happy and felt privileged to experience this type of snow at home in Canada.
“The Wiegeles are so generous,” Hudec said. “Just to be out here and have my brother here and Anna on her retirement and just kind of skiing together, it was amazing - just one of those experiences where nothing is really like that again and nothing will compare to this. One of those things we will remember forever.”
Jan Hudec riding the Canadian pow!