Jen Hudak is no stranger to the podium. Her technical ability, style and dedication to the sport have made her a dominant presence in women’s freeskiing. Among her accolades are two AFP titles and two X Games gold medals. We believe her experience will put her on top of the AFP standings once again.
We checked in with Jen to talk recovery, fear, Sochi and more.
Not to put any pressure on you, but we’re predicting that you’re going to win the women’s AFP halfpipe title this year. Wow! I am flattered! I’ve got some work to do. [laughs]
How is your knee? My knee is doing well. I just strength tested, and I’m at 90 percent of my strength from last fall. Considering the seriousness of my injury, I feel really good about that.
Do you feel like the surgery was a success all in all? Yeah, it was definitely a huge success. I had it scoped a few months ago to clean out some scar tissue, which has proven to be a really good decision and helped me to progress a lot faster.
After multiple injuries, has your attitude toward the sport changed, and do you feel fear will play a larger factor in the upcoming season? You know, fear always plays a factor. The first knee surgery I had was the hardest to come back from because it was all new to me. This one is definitely going to be a little tough. I haven’t skied since Sarah passed away, and that I think is going to be my biggest obstacle. Every day that I’m training, I still feel lucky to be able to continue working hard.
Who do you feel will be your stiffest competition as you try to snag your third AFP title? I think that Roz [Groenewoud] is definitely going to be a major competitor. She’s extremely consistent and has one of the most technical runs in the game. We had a lot of injuries last year and just lost Devin Logan [for part of the season] so it’s definitely going to be a battle between Roz and Maddie Bowman. Maddie is on an upswing and is going to be one to watch out for as well as Anais Caradeux.
Are there any competitions this season you’re particularly looking forward to? I am very much looking forward to competing in X Games. I’m hoping that I get invited to compete in X Games [laughs], but it’s by far my favorite event. The environment, the atmosphere there is just… so incredible.
Would you say the Olympics are the biggest goal for you in the long run? Yeah, I would. I was at the first ever halfpipe World Cup in Saas-Fee, Switzerland in 2003, and from that day I was like, “This sport is going to the Olympics, and I’m going to be a part of it.” But it’s important to not forget about everything else that we have besides the Olympics: X Games, Dew Tour, the Grand Prix events and all the World Cups. There’s a huge opportunity for us to continue excelling in this sport, and I think it’s important to take everything one step at a time.