Olympic favorite Odermatt wins giant slalom by big margin

LA VILLA, Italy (AP) — Three victories and one second-place result across four races at three different resorts.

Marco Odermatt’s recent performance makes him the undisputed favorite for a gold medal in giant slalom at the upcoming Beijing Olympics.

“It’s amazing,” Odermatt said after his latest victory on Monday in Alta Badia, which came by a massive margin.

After leading the opening run in what is traditionally the longest and perhaps toughest giant slalom race of the season, Odermatt finished with a whopping 1.01-second advantage over Luca De Aliprandini of Italy.

“I don’t have a time on my goggle to see how much you have to push,” Odermatt said about his approach as the last racer down in the second run. “I knew I had a little advantage from the first run but I didn’t know how fast Luca was. I just heard that he’s in front. So I knew I had to push again.”

Alexander Schmid of Germany finished third, 1.09 behind, as the top three held their positions from the first leg.

Having also won the season opener in Sölden, Austria, and another GS in Val d’Isere, France, this month — plus a super-G in Beaver Creek, Colorado — Odermatt extended his lead atop the overall standings to a comfortable 228 points over Austrian speed specialist Matthias Mayer.

Odermatt finished second behind Henrik Kristoffersen in another giant slalom on the Gran Risa on Sunday.

“I really wanted to do this today,” said Odermatt, who won six gold medals at the junior world championships. “After the first run I knew that everything is possible. I just tried to push, push, push.”

Kristoffersen finished fourth, missing the podium by two hundredths.

Despite being injured from a fall a day earlier, American racer River Radamus came in 10th for his third top-10 finish in four GS races this season.

Radamus was limping after sliding across the finish in his first run on Sunday, when he matched his career best by finishing sixth. He had considered entering super-G races in Bormio next week but will now return for the next giant slalom in Adelboden, Switzerland, next month.

“I got to get the body healthy again,” Radamus said, adding that he was going to Venice for “some alone time.”

With his sixth win of 2021, the 24-year-old Odermatt became only the third Swiss man with more than five victories in a single calendar year after Pirmin Zurbriggen (9 in 1987, 6 in 1986) and Peter Müller (6 in 1986).

It’s been a challenging stretch for Odermatt, who was one of the few GS skiers who also competed on the speed side in Val Gardena last week.

“I’m really tired but with results like this it’s really easy,” Odermatt said.

The 31-year-old Aliprandini won the silver medal in giant slalom at last season’s world championships in Cortina d’Ampezzo but had never finished on the podium in a World Cup race.

“I dedicate this win to myself, my coaches and to my girlfriend, who had a tough summer,” said Aliprandini, who lives with Swiss skier Michelle Gisin, the Olympic champion in combined, who had mononucleosis. “This will surely give her some energy.

“Last season, the turning point was here in Alta Badia when I went out after the third gate,” Aliprandini added. “The pressure of landing on the podium was weighing me down. I took a break then to reflect and I told myself that I didn’t need to demonstrate anything to anyone. I began enjoying everything more and not just racing for results and then the results came.”

Schmid’s four previous World Cup podiums had all come in either team or individual parallel races.

The Beijing Olympics open on Feb. 4.

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Andrew Dampf is at https://twitter.com/AndrewDampf

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