VAL GARDENA, Italy -- Canada's Jan Hudec captured his first World Cup medal in nearly two years, winning silver in the men's World Cup super-G Friday.
Norway's Aksel Lund Svindal increased his overall World Cup, while many contenders, including Manuel Osborne-Paradis of North Vancouver, B.C., skied off course or crashed in difficult conditions.
Svindal had a time of one minute 35.82 seconds in a flawless run on the Saslong course to match his wins here in 2009 and last year. It was the Norwegian's 24th career win and his third this season, having also won back-to-back speed races in Beaver Creek, Colorado, this month.
Norway and Canada train together and share course reports during races in an arrangement that helps the teams compete with powerhouses like Austria, Switzerland and the United States.
The skiers have labeled their two-nation team "Can-Norge," using the Norwegian name for Norway.
"It's almost like we have a single team in two nations," Hudec said. "We totally have to feed off each other's momentum and energy, and it seems to be working."
Hudec, from Calgary, finished 0.58 seconds behind for his fifth career World Cup podium appearance and first since February of 2012. Adrian Theaux of France was third, 0.91 back.
Erik Guay of Mont Tremblant, Que., was sixth.
Hudec, 32, claimed his fifth career World Cup medal and Canada's first this season.
"This is just huge," said Hudec. "It's confirmation that I've been doing the right things and just going with it and being patient.
"I knew my time in the sport wasn't up and I wouldn't have carried on skiing if I didn't believe I could do this. I feel pretty blessed that I got to be the first guy on the podium this year but it's just a matter of time before Erik and Manny are there, too. We have a great history here and there's no reason we can't do something special in the downhill (Saturday)."
With wins worth 100 points each, Svindal moved 125 points ahead of Austrian rival Marcel Hirscher, who does not usually race super-G, in the overall standings. American Ted Ligety remained third, 191 points back, after skiing off course on the top section.
Ligety went wide and attempted to make the next gate but then pulled up when he realized it was too risky.
Hudec, who opened an optometry store in Calgary this summer, said his result was proof he had been able to manage the challenging task of balancing training and launching his own business.
"A lot of people were kind of unsure if I was going to be able to do the business and skiing," he said. "It was a huge pressure for me, making sure everybody on the ski side was happy but also running a business properly.
"It forced me to focus 100 per cent on those two things. Today is confirmation that I was able to do a good job at both."
Hudec's second-place finish marked the first podium with the men's team for head coach Martin Rufener, who joined Alpine Canada in the summer.
"It shows us that we are there," Rufener said. "We needed that to confirm we are on the right track. It's great to see."
Osborne-Paradis, who was also fast in the downhill training runs, went out at a time when fog seemed to blanket the top part of the course.
"For Erik it's great to be sixth," Rufener said. "Manny went out but he's ready for (Saturday's) downhill. Those three guys are right there knocking on the door."
Hudec, Guay and Osborne-Paradis had all pre-qualified for nomination to Canada's team for the 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games prior to Friday's race. Marie-Michele Gagnon, of Lac-Etchemin, Que., has also pre-qualified on the women's side.
Jeffrey Frisch, of Mont-Tremblant, Que., was 33rd, two spots ahead of Robbie Dixon, of Whistler, B.C. Ben Thomsen, of Invermere, B.C., finished 43rd while Conrad and Morgan Pridy of Whistler, B.C., were 45th and 47th, respectively.
Svindal also moved atop the super-G standings, 91 points ahead of Patrick Kueng of Switzerland, who went off course midway down his run.
Svindal was careful in areas where other racers lost control.
"With all the terrain you have to very precise," he said. "You can't really (put) pressure in a lot of places. You have to (absorb) the terrain. I had a good plan and was able to execute it well."
Svindal also benefited from hearing Hudec's course report before he started -- and Hudec said he had no reservations about helping the man who then beat him.
"Not at all," Hudec said. "He doesn't hold back when he gives course reports and it has to be the same way for us.
"I mean there's no way the Austrians would be giving course reports to the Swiss," Hudec added. "But the Norwegians and the Canadians are such like-minded mentalities that we get along well together."
American Bode Miller finished eighth for his best speed result of the season, despite trouble landing the final jump, which forced Miller to collide with the last gate, catching his pole and losing precious time.
With fog on the top and flat light the rest of the way down, seven of the top 30 starters did not finish and two others were disqualified for missing the final gate -- Peter Fill of Italy and Hannes Reichelt of Austria.
Fill had a podium run going until he hit the last gate.
Matteo Marsaglia, an Italian who finished second last year, had an ugly fall midway down after failing to land a jump and went barrelling through a gate head first then got twisted around as he slid down the mountain. But he got up and appeared to avoid serious injury.
A downhill is scheduled for Saturday then the circuit moves over the Gardena pass into Alta Badia for a giant slalom on Sunday, with Ligety the overwhelming favourite after his emphatic win there last year.