Swiss ace Marco Odermatt wins World Cup giant slalom
ADELBODEN, Switzerland (AP) — Marco Odermatt carried his remarkable streak in giant slalom to another World Cup win Saturday in his home nation’s classic race staged in unseasonably warm weather.
Odermatt, the Olympic champion, protected his first-run lead in fading light and even extended it with the fastest second-leg time to finish 0.73 seconds ahead of Henrik Kristoffersen.
“I was on the limit two, three, four times on the inside ski. It was unbelievable,” Odermatt told Swiss broadcaster RTS about his aggressive second run.
Kristoffersen bowed in a show of respect when greeting Odermatt in the finish area and gave him a thumbs-up sign. Odermatt’s teammate Loïc Meillard was 1.66 back in third.
A fourth win in five World Cup giant slaloms since October for the 25-year-old Swiss was also his 14th straight podium finish in his standout discipline through the past two seasons. That run includes his gold medal at the Beijing Olympics last February.
Odermatt’s 17th career win in World Cup races was his 11th in giant slalom. It extended the defending champion’s big lead in the overall World Cup standings.
“When it’s a fast course set like this in the second run and Marco is flying like he is at the moment then I know that there is not that much chance,” said Kristoffersen, after his fifth career podium finish in the Adelboden classic without a win. “Still the only one who is somewhat close (to Odermatt) and far ahead of everyone else.”
The home favorite was roared to the finish line by a sold-out crowd of more than 20,000, mostly gathered around the steep final slope of the storied Chuenisbärgli course.
Warm and snow-free winter weather for several weeks in central Europe created conditions that Swiss broadcasters described as “almost a miracle” organizers could stage a race.
Racers skied down a white ribbon of soft, sun-bathed artificial snow lined by lush green fields that are cow pastures in the summer.
The temperature was just above freezing for the first run Saturday morning and rose to about 7 Celsius (45 Fahrenheit) when the second leg started at 1:30 p.m. local time.
The light fades fast at Adelboden because the sun sets behind surrounding hills during the second run, and the first-run leaders waited out a 15-minute stoppage after Victor Muffat-Jeandet crashed.
The French racer was twisted around when his right arm struck a turning gate and he crashed into safety fences. Muffat-Jeandet was taken away on a stretcher and his injuries were unclear.
It was a relatively late 2:40 p.m. when Odermatt was the last starter directly after Kristoffersen’s impressive run built a big lead.
“I really could enjoy the race today. After last year I know I can win this race,” said Odermatt, who one year ago ended Switzerland’s 14-year wait for a home winner.
With 100 World Cup points for the win, Odermatt now leads by 400 overall from Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, who placed ninth Saturday in a rare start in giant slalom.
“Top-10 today is incredible,” said Kilde, the 2020 overall champion who leads the downhill standings. “With bib 31 and having this is as a result is really amazing.”
Adelboden stages a slalom on Sunday that Odermatt will skip and Kristoffersen will be favored to get another podium finish in a race he has won twice.
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