SANTA CATERINA VULFURVA – Marco Odermatt fulfilled his potential on Monday by becoming first Swiss skier to win a men's World Cup giant slalom in nearly 10 years.
Ever since winning GS world titles as a junior in 2016 and 2018, Odermatt was the ski-mad nation's main hope to end its drought in the discipline. After five podium finishes, including in both previous races this season, Odermatt finally delivered in the Italian Alps.
Holding onto a first-run lead, he beat American racer Tommy Ford by 0.73 seconds.
“It’s really emotional for me today. I never had this before,” Odermatt said, pointing at tears in eyes. “It was big pressure today: First time red bib, first time leading after first run. Now I am really proud.”
Filip Zubcic, who won Saturday’s race in dense snowfall, was 1.25 seconds off the lead and outside the top 20 after the opening run but the Croatian skier posted the fastest time in the second run to place third, 0.75 behind.
Odermatt became the first GS winner from Switzerland since Carlo Janka, who was the reigning overall champion when he won in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, in March 2011.
“Such statistics leave me pretty cold, they don’t give me additional pressure," Odermatt said. "I only put myself under pressure.”
Since Janka’s triumph, the Swiss team went without a podium result in the discipline for seven seasons, before Odermatt, Loic Meillard, Gino Caviezel and Thomas Tumler all scored top-three results since the 2018-19 season.
“We stayed cool, went step-by-step and kept working hard. We didn’t turn everything upside-down,” Odermatt said about the rebuilding of the Swiss GS team in recent years.
Odermatt’s second career win came one year and a day after he triumphed in a super-G in Beaver Creek, Colorado.
Odermatt extended his lead in the discipline standings and joined Alexis Pinturault at the top of the overall standings.
Pinturault was 0.82 behind in fifth, just behind Meillard in fourth.
Ford was 0.43 off the lead in fourth after the opening run before he edged then-leader Zubcic by two-hundredths and took the lead in the race with only Odermatt to race.
Odermatt had a ferocious start as he extended his advantage over the American to just over a second. While he lost half of the lead at the last check point, the Swiss' victory never was in danger.
The result marked Ford's third podium finish, a year after he had his maiden win in Beaver Creek.
The race was rescheduled from Sunday, when heavy snow in the Italian Alps made the competition impossible. Conditions improved overnight, with low temperatures hardening the surface of the course.
The event was moved from Val d’Isere because of lack of snow, though the French resort is set to host a downhill and super-G next weekend, the first speed races of the season.
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