Switzerland’s Marco Odermatt skied the “perfect” race to emphatically win his first-ever senior FIS Alpine World Ski Championships medal in the blue-ribband men’s downhill race in Courchevel, France, on Sunday, beating great rival Aleksander Aamodt Kilde of Norway into second place.
Starting 10th on a difficult course, Odermatt’s flow and control on an icy track riddled with, shadows, blind rises and hard-to-see bumps were phenomenal and his time of 1m 47.05s was sensationally fast and when Kilde, winner of five of the eight downhill World Cups this season and the pre-race favourite, came in +0.48 seconds behind, Odermatt’s historic victory was guaranteed.
This was Odermatt’s first major downhill triumph after the Swiss star has clocked seven World Cup second places in the discipline, often behind Kilde, and marks his very first World Champs medal after previously winning the overall World Cup title and Olympic gold in 2022.
“It was the perfect run for me, maybe the best downhill I’ve ever skied,” said Odermatt, 25. “I felt it was a perfect run. When you look and you know some fast skiers had already been down, I knew it was good.”
Alexis Pinturault meanwhile celebrated double medal success at his home resort with a memorable gold medal in the alpine combined – his second individual world title – and then a bronze in the Super G.
Pinturault came into the first men’s 2023 event without a 2022–23 FIS World Cup win to his name, but he was fired up to impress his home fans and topped the standings after the first Super G leg. He only enjoyed a 0.06s advantage over Austrian Marco Schwarz with Switzerland’s Loïc Meillard in 12th place while Swiss Marco Odermatt and Italy’s Dominik Paris both failed to record a time.
Norwegian Atle Lie McGrath and Meillard posted excellent slalom times in the second leg, however Pinturault did just enough in third to deny Schwarz by 0.10s and secure his second individual world title. Austrian Raphael Haaser grabbed bronze with Meillard impressing in sixth.
Pinturault, 31, said: “It’s amazing. I hope to enjoy it because it was pretty difficult some months ago. I really tried to attack (Super-G run), but always on the good side of the limit, so I could handle the whole way down without big mistakes and that was the main goal. I think I made not an amazing slalom but a good and strong slalom especially with the number one, because it’s really difficult when it’s tricky to know where you can push and where you have to control a bit more.”
In Thursday’s men’s Super G, Pinturault followed up his alpine combined gold with a classy bronze medal 0.26s behind shock Canadian winner James Crawford and Norwegian Aleksander Aamodt Kilde with Swiss Marco Odermatt fourth and compatriot Loïc Meillard eighth as Italian Dominik Paris was thankfully able to walk away after a heavy crash.
Kiwi Alice Robinson looked set for a medal late on in Tuesday’s women’s Super G, however a small error on the last few gates saw her slip down to seventh place with Italian Sofia Goggia finishing 11th.
Goggia was the overwhelming favourite to take home gold in Sunday’s women’s downhill final after scoring big wins on the World Cup circuit. However, she made a big mistake in the high-speed Roc de Fer close out and straddled a gate, leading her to be disqualified from the race that was won instead by Swiss Jasmine Flury.
On the World Cup circuit, there was double success for Japanese halfpipe star Mitsuki Ono at the final round of the FIS Snowboard Halfpipe season at the Calgary Snow Rodeo in Canada, where she won not only the event, but also the overall World Cup title.
After a third place finish at the opening halfpipe season in Copper Mountain, followed up by back-to-back wins in Laax and Mammoth Mountain, 20-year-old Ono was guaranteed the crystal globe before competition even started in Calgary, but she delivered a sensational run that scored 89.75 points and handed her a third-straight victory World Cup win to secure the crystal globe for the very first time in emphatic style.
American Maddie Mastro also mounted the overall season podium in third place.
“I’m so happy to win and get the crystal globe,” Ono, 18, said. “Calgary is one of my favourite places, because I got my first World Cup podium here three years ago. I still can’t believe this, though, I’m so happy.”
Ono also leads the overall Park & Pipe season’s points standings from Reira Iwabuchi and Anna Gasser.
In ski jumping, Andreas Wellinger won his first World Cup round in almost six years as Lake Placid hosted it’s first world level event in 33 years.
The German jumper out performed Japan’s Ryōyū Kobayashi and 21 year old first-time podium visitor Daniel Tschofeniog in the second round at the famed American venue to score his first win since December 2017.
Current Nordic Combined overall series leader Johannes Lamparter added another victory to his record in Schonach, Germany, to extend his points lead over Jens Luraas Oftebro.
The Austrian finished the opening ski jump round with the third best points haul behind Japan’s Ryota Yamamoto and fellow countryman Mario Seidl, but was the dominant force in Sunday’s cross-country race and sprinted to victory over Oftebro in the final stretch by a narrow 1.6sec.
Header image: Marco Odermatt. Credit: Erich Spiess / Red Bull Content Pool