The last time a Swede won a world championship medal on the men’s side was eleven years ago in the Sierra Nevada in Spain. Patrik Järbyn was the recipient on that occasion too, winning a silver medal in the super-G event.
In Åre he was not expected to be in contention but on Sunday Järbyn, 37, ensured that he will be the oldest ever skier to stand on the world championship podium.
“It’s unbelievable. I just can’t believe I’ve won a world championship medal,” he told Expressen.
But it was a Norwegian who took gold. Hermann Maier, Michael Walchhofer and Fritz Strobl all failed to knock Aksel Lund Svindal off the leaderboard, leaving the Austrians without a skier on the downhill podium for the first time since 1997.
The 24-year-old Svindal, who has been on fire this year, benefited from slightly better conditions than some of the field as fog played havoc with the middle part of the 2.92km long Olympia course.
However his blistering run undeniably made the difference.
Hudec took the early lead after starting with bib number two, and the Canadian held on until Svindal, with bib 21, came flying down the course to knock him into second place.
The Norwegian’s 0.24sec deficit to Hudec at the first checkpoint soon evaporated as he picked up speed. Soon, Svindal was 0.52 faster than Hudec and finished the race 0.72 ahead of the Canadian.
American Bode Miller flattered to deceive after a fast start.
The 29-year-old defending champion picked up error after error in his bid to unseat Svindal before finishing a massive 1.27secs behind.
Maier was 1.75 behind Svindal while Walchhofer was 1.88 adrift and Strobl was 2.02.
Liechtenstein’s Marco Buechel, a big favourite after he dominated training on Friday, agonisingly crashed out as he rocketed round a bend near the top of the course.
Norway’s last medal in the men’s downhill event at the world championships came thanks to Kjetil Andre Aamodt, who won a silver behind Walchhofer in 2003.