Olympic champion Odermatt back on top with Alta Badia GS win
LA VILLA, Italy (AP) — There was no stopping Marco Odermatt this time.
A day after an uncharacteristic third-place finish on the same course, the Olympic champion won another giant slalom in Alta Badia on Monday for his 15th career World Cup victory.
Odermatt, the reigning overall World Cup champion and current leader, maintained his first-run advantage during a wild second run down the Gran Risa, making a series of recoveries after getting bounced off the racing line several times.
The Swiss skier finished 0.20 seconds ahead of Norwegian veteran Henrik Kristoffersen and 0.92 ahead of Olympic silver medalist Zan Kranjec.
“This was probably the biggest fight ever,” said Odermatt, who has now won three of the four giant slaloms this season. “I was so, so tired already at the start and then it didn’t get better.”
Lucas Braathen, the Norwegian who won Sunday’s race, lost control on the upper section during his opening run, got twisted around and ended up careening through a gate backward.
“That’s how it is. Day and night, such a contrast,” Braathen said. “That error just came out of nowhere. So I was a bit surprised, and even more surprised that I couldn’t save it. But that’s racing, it’s on the limit. And today I was on the wrong side of it.”
Fatigued after two downhill races in nearby Val Gardena, Odermatt struggled into ninth in Sunday’s opening run before charging onto the podium in the second run.
“It was a big improvement to yesterday. I was awake today,” Odermatt said after a dominant first run. “I knew with bib No. 2 it was a big advantage today and I had to use it.”
After the second leg, Odermatt was looking forward to a break before his next races in Bormio at the end of the month.
“Difficult, hard, exhausting,” he said of the Gran Risa. “After already a week in Val Gardena now to come here, two races in a row for a very difficult course. ... A 1-minute, 20-second GS is very, very long and tough for the legs.”
Marcel Hirscher, the retired eight-time overall World Cup champion who won this race six times and now runs a ski company that supplies Kristoffersen, had nothing but praise for the 25-year-old Odermatt.
“He can win and achieve everything,” Hirscher said, “if he stays healthy.”
With the second run set by U.S. coach Ian Garner, American racers River Radamus and Tommy Ford finished 10th and 15th, respectively.
There were also career bests from Belgian skier Sam Maes in 11th and Joan Verdu of Andorra, who finished 12th for the second straight day.
The next men’s race is a night slalom in Madonna di Campiglio on Thursday, although Odermatt does not race slalom.
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