Super-G Superstition? Jan Hudec buries lucky loonie at finish line
Published Sunday, February 16, 2014 3:27PM EST
SOCHI, Russia -- It was more tradition than superstition that prompted Jan Hudec to bury a loonie near the finish line of the men's super-G race at the Sochi Olympics.
He's not sure the ritual borrowed from Canada's hockey teams had any bearing on his race, but he can't argue with the result. The Calgary skier became the first Canadian in 20 years to win an alpine Olympic medal when he took bronze Sunday.
"I'm not superstitious by any means," he said. "Us being Canadian, we stole something from the hockey guys. When was that? Salt Lake?"
It was indeed the 2002 Salt Lake Games when Canadian ice makers secretly buried a loonie at centre ice. Both the men's and women's teams went on to win gold that year.
Alpine ski officials adopted the custom a few years back.
"It started with the hockey guys and I think about eight years ago or even longer, some of the officials at Lake Louise at the World Cup there did it at the finish line in Lake Louise," Hudec said.
"I thought I'd try it out. It must have been the loonie. But if it wasn't, at least it's a nice keepsake."
Hudec received the coin, which he said came from a Calgary convenience store, from Kerrin Lee-Gartner, who won the downhill gold medal at the 1992 Albertville Olympics. He decided to bury the coin during a pre-race warmup.
"Literally we had time for two runs," he said. "On the second run, I stopped at the finish line and as sneakily as possible, in Russia, I went up there and dug a hole at the finish line, hoping not to get dragged off by security guards. Just buried it four inches under the snow."
The loonie was recovered after the race, but not without some difficulty.
"Right after the race, I completely forgot that I put the loonie up there and someone else mentioned it to me," Hudec said. "We were almost leaving the venue, so Paul Kristofic, our old head coach ... offered to go up there and look for it.
"I must have given him bad directions because he was up there for 45 minutes digging for this thing and finally found it."