Kristoffersen wins GS as Odermatt closes in on overall title
KRANJSKA GORA, Slovenia (AP) — Marco Odermatt was cautiously accepting congratulations Sunday for winning the Alpine skiing World Cup overall title.
The Olympic champion from Switzerland finished third in the penultimate giant slalom of the season, which was won by Henrik Kristoffersen, and extended his lead in the overall standings to 329 points with four races left.
Mathematically, with a race win worth 100 points, there is still a chance that runner-up Aleksander Aamodt Kilde overtakes him at the World Cup Finals in France next week.
Realistically, not so much.
“Even when Kilde wins three times, I don’t believe he will also score points in the slalom,” Odermatt told Swiss broadcaster SRF.
Neither Odermatt nor Kilde has ever raced in a World Cup slalom. That leaves just three events at the finals where they were expected to score points — downhill, super-G, and GS.
However, both would be eligible to start in the slalom next Sunday, the final race of the season.
But even Odermatt is starting to believe that the big crystal globe, widely regarded the sport’s most important prize, will be his for the first time.
“It’s been looking good for a while. But after Kvitfjell, I became a little bit nervous,” said Odermatt, referring to speed races in Norway last week. While he picked up just 39 points in total from three events, Kilde racked up 225.
But adding 140 points for placing second and third, respectively, in two giant slaloms this weekend and locking up the GS discipline title gave Odermatt a relaxed feeling ahead of the season-ending week.
“I hoped for this, that was the plan for this weekend. Now I am looking forward to three nice races,” said Odermatt, who is set to become the first overall champion from Switzerland since Carlo Janka won the title in 2010.
Kilde skipped the two races in Slovenia this weekend and opted to prepare for Wednesday’s downhill race in France, where he can win the discipline title.
The first downhill training in Courchevel, some 900 kilometres away from Kranjska Gora, is scheduled for Monday morning at 10 a.m.
On Sunday, Odermatt was fastest in the opening run but dropped to third, 0.27 behind Kristoffersen.
The Norwegian won his second race in two days. His double came two weeks after the Norwegian also won two slaloms in two days in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.
“Very good weekend, for sure. We’re skiing really good. It doesn’t matter if it’s straight, turny, or whatever it is, it’s a pretty good day,” Kristoffersen said.
It was his 28th career victory and seventh in GS.
Stefan Brennsteiner of Austria finished 0.23 seconds behind in second for his career-best result.
The Austrian improved from his fifth position after the opening leg, where he lost nine-tenths of a second after his skis crossed early in his run. Brennsteiner recovered and had a frenetic run to shave almost half a second from his deficit. He then posted the third-fastest time in the final run.
Alexander Schmid of Germany, who was second behind Odermatt after the opening run, dropped to fifth.
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