Sullivan takes silver at Lake Louise |

Sullivan takes silver at Lake Louise

Marco Sullivan, of the United States, soars down the course on his way to second place in the Lake Louise World Cup alpine ski race in Lake Louise, Alberta, on Saturday, Nov. 24, 2007. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Frank Gunn)

LAKE LOUISE, Alberta ” Canada’s Jan Hudec won the first downhill of the World Cup season Saturday, making a big comeback from three knee operations before a home crowd.

He was timed in 1 minute, 42.79 seconds and was followed by Marco Sullivan of the United States in 1:43.03 and Andreas Buder of Austria in 1:43.13.

Hudec won the downhill silver medal at the 2006 world championships, but this was his first top-three finish on the World Cup circuit. He became the first Canadian to win the men’s downhill at Lake Louise.

“I was pretty down and out there for a while having three knee surgeries,” Hudec said. “To come back after all that has truly been a huge blessing.”

The 26-year-old skier thrilled a Canadian crowd that included his wife, young son and other family members.

“It’s incredible,” Hudec said. “Our team is so pumped up right now. Any one of our guys on our team could have won today. We’re doing all the right things.”

The race was held on a crisp day on the men’s Olympic downhill course. The course was shorter this year because lack of snow at the top of the mountain forced the starting gate to be lowered.

American Steven Nyman, who won his first World Cup race last year, was 15th.

A super-G will be held Sunday.

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