Swiss skier Odermatt makes it back-to-back men’s giant slalom World Cup season titles

Olympic champion Marco Odermatt capped what he called “a perfect season” by securing his second straight World Cup title in giant slalom Sunday.

The Swiss skier won the penultimate GS of the season, beating his only rival for the GS title before the race, Henrik Kristoffersen, by 0.32 seconds. He posted a combined winning time of two minutes 20.91 seconds.

Odermatt extended his lead over the Norwegian to 160 points in the GS standings, locking up the title with only 100 points still at stake at the season-ending race next Saturday.

“It’s crazy, I can’t really believe that,” Odermatt said from Kranjska Gora, Slovenia. “It was another battle today in the second run. I made my mistakes, just before the flats, I thought ‘oh, that’s going to be tight’ so I risked it all and it worked out.”

Odermatt won a GS on the same hill Saturday and triumphed in six of the nine giant slaloms he started this season.

Odermatt earlier successfully defended his overall title, while also winning the super-G globe and world titles in GS and downhill.

“If you don’t call this a perfect season, then when would you do so?” the Swiss standout asked.

Odermatt has gathered 1,826 points and is closing in on the 23-year-old men’s record for most World Cup points in a single season — 2,000, set by Austrian great Hermann Maier in the 1999-2000 season.

‘A bit like Marcel’

After Sunday’s race, he draw praise from his rivals, as third-place Alexis Pinturault called Odermatt’s season “sensational” and compared him with Austrian record eight-time overall champion Marcel Hirscher.

“A bit like Marcel in the past, winning everywhere, in different disciplines, and also very strong in the big events like world championships and Olympic Games,” the Frenchman said about Odermatt.

Kristoffersen, however, thought he could close the gap to Odermatt next year, at least in GS.

“He is a little bit better at the moment but we get closer and closer,” the Norwegian said. “It’s a bit like it was with Marcel and Ted [Ligety] in the past. For two years, Ted was always ahead, then came Marcel. So let’s see what happens next season.”

Racing in sunny and warm conditions on the Podkoren 3 course, Odermatt built on his first-run lead of 0.28 seconds as he overcame a mistake halfway through his run and nearly lost his advantage.

However, he gained time again with a gutsy final section.

Pinturault was 0.70 behind in third. Fourth-place home favourite Zan Kranjec was already more than 1.6 seconds off the pace.

Erik Read of Calgary, the lone Canadian in the second run, placed 28th of 29 finishers in 2:26.09. Asher Jordan of North Vancouver, B.C., and Calgary’s Liam Wallace were among 19 athletes who didn’t finish the opening run.

The World Cup finals in Soldeu, Andorra, start with a downhill Wednesday.

Only the slalom title is still vacant, with the top four racers separated by less than 100 points. The slalom is the last race of the season, next Sunday.

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