SOELDEN, Austria (AP) — Sitting in the leader box, Lucas Braathen buried his head in his hands as he watched each racer after him crossing the finish line at the season-opening men’s World Cup giant slalom Sunday.
But the Norwegian’s time held up, even after first-run leader Gino Caviezel completed his second.
Braathen, who had never finished in a World Cup podium position, improved from fifth place after the opening leg to upset the pre-race favorites and clinch his first career win.
“It’s a pretty good day,” the 20-year-old told Austrian TV with a bright smile.
His roommate in the Norwegian team, overall champion Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, was among the first to congratulate him, giving him a firm hug.
Kilde didn’t leave the venue, staying around to see how his teammate would do, despite failing to finish his first run. Kilde came wide on a left turn and lost his right ski when he caught a bump.
Last year’s winner, Alexis Pinturault, missed the podium by 0.03 seconds in fourth, while GS world champion Henrik Kristoffersen finished in joint fifth place with Loic Meillard, the third Swiss skier in the top five.
Ted Ligety, who won the race a record four times, was 10th after the opening run but the American’s left ski came off early in his second.
With Braathen and Odermatt, who turned 23 this month, a younger generation occupied the top spots in the season’s first race.
“You can only dream of such a start to the season,” Odermatt said.
The GS has become a wide-open discipline since the retirement of Marcel Hirscher. The dominant Austrian won the GS season title six times in seven years before ending his career in 2019.
Last season, Kristoffersen scooped the title, but Pinturault, Croatia’s Filip Zubcic and Slovenia’s Zan Kranjec all finished within 30 points of the Norwegian’s tally after seven races.