Road To The Olympic Games

Alpine Skiing

Jan Hudec will no longer wear the Maple Leaf

Jan Hudec will no longer wear the Maple Leaf on his ski suit after Alpine Canada gave him permission to race for another country Monday.

Bronze medal skier has been given permission to represent Czech Republic

Olympic bronze medallist Jan Hudec, seen here in a file photo from 29 Nov 2015, has been giving permission by Alpine Canada to switch to the Czech Republic's team, next season. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press)

Jan Hudec will no longer wear the Maple Leaf on his ski suit after Alpine Canada gave him permission to race for another country Monday.

The national governing body of ski racing approved Hudec's transfer to Czech Republic, the country of his birth. The switch also requires approval from the international governing body FIS.

Hudec earned Olympic super-G bronze in 2014 for the first alpine ski medal won by a Canadian male since 1994. He's been a member of Canada's alpine team for 14 years.

The 34-year-old and Alpine Canada disagreed on terms for him to race in 2016-17. Hudec, who underwent an eighth surgery on his right knee last month, was left off the 35-member squad named earlier this month.

Canada's bronze medal-winner says his decision to leave Team Canada resulted primarily from a disagreement about "paying to represent my country, especially after what I've proven to do." 1:00

Money matters

Hudec said Alpine Canada made it so financially onerous for him to race for Canada next season he was essentially being forced to retire.

He was told he must pay $35,000 in team fees, which was $10,000 higher than anyone else on the team.

Hudec also said if he wasn't ranked in the top 30 by the end of this year, he would have to foot the bill for racing the rest of the season.

Alpine Canada countered that Hudec wasn't willing to demonstrate post-surgery progress and fitness in supervised testing, although Hudec disputed that claim.

"We discussed with Jan certain conditions to ensure that he could successfully return to the World Cup tour as a podium contender," Alpine Canada said in Monday's statement.

"This included a successful rehabilitation of his most recent knee surgery, fitness standards, World Cup performance benchmarks, and a financial contribution to the additional costs that would be incurred to support him on the team.

"Jan has been clear that due to his other personal and business interests, he cannot commit himself to the program structure of the Canadian national ski team.

"Over the past several years, Jan has been living part-time in the Czech Republic and has significant family ties to the country."

An Alpine Canada spokeswoman said there would be no further comment on the matter.

Dual roots

Born in Sumperk, Czech Republic, Hudec's parents Jan and Vladi fled what was then Czechoslovakia in 1982 when he was a baby.

The family eventually made their way to Alberta in 1986. Hudec grew up ski racing in the Banff area.

Hudec and his Czech girlfriend Jarka Svejstilova have a one-year-old son. Hudec was in the Czech Republic on Monday and wasn't immediately available for comment.

Knee and back injuries have limited Hudec to nine World Cup starts since the 2014 Winter Games.

He pushed out of the start hut just once in 2014-15 — the season-opening super-G in Lake Louise, Alta. — but did not finish.

Despite an injury-filled career, Hudec has produced an Olympic bronze, a world championship silver in 2007 and five World Cup medals.

He claimed a medal in Sochi in 2014 despite being bedridden a few weeks earlier with a herniated disc in his back.

With files from CBC News Calgary

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