The Chuenisbärgli – Marco Odermatt’s realm
“The Chuenisbärgli has a new king,” announced the speaker at the victory ceremony. And neither the spectators nor his fellow competitors could disagree. Marco Odermatt is truly deserving of this title after winning in Adelboden for the third time in a row.
Marco Odermatt also looks like a king in his palace on the Chuenisbärgli, which is regarded as one of the most difficult giant slalom courses in the World Cup. He looks at home even when it is bumpy and rough, and even when the snow makes it difficult to see, as it did on Saturday.
Marco Odermatt began 2024 just as he did in 2022 and 2023: with a victory in the giant slalom in Adelboden. His latest victory showcased his dominance in his main discipline. Although the course was “deprived” of the start section that Odermatt loves and was shortened because of the fog, the man from Nidwalden took victory over Aleksander Aamodt Kilde by 1.26 seconds. But Odermatt did not have to go flat out to do this. He was able to use his lead from the first run to race tactically in the second run and take his foot off the gas somewhat.
The young Odermatt has become an experienced racer over the last few years, and this was clearly demonstrated by his different approaches to the latest home races in Adelboden. In 2022, he had to battle with the huge expectations people had of him and he had of himself, but he was almost able to enjoy the race and the atmosphere of the event over these last few days. But this does not mean that he neglected anything in his preparation or during the race. He inspected the course and chose his equipment with his usual meticulousness. Tuning the equipment was not such a big challenge this year as the snow was similar from top to bottom. Rather, the question Marco and his technician had to answer was how long the skis should be. “The piste was quite slow, and the course had lots of turns, so we were focused on that. In the end, I opted for the longer model because it simply had more power,” said Odermatt when giving a brief insight into part of what he focuses on immediately before a race.
After a short trip home, Odermatt is now heading back to the Bernese Oberland. He has two downhills in Wengen on 11 and 13 January and a super-G on the Lauberhorn in between. There he will once again come up against Vincent Kriechmayr, Dominik Paris, Mattia Casse, the strong Canadians, and Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, who raced so well in Adelboden.
Zurbrügg’s long journey to his home race
The giant slalom in Adelboden was also a rather special race for Sandro Zurbrügg. The man from Frutigen is normally only 20 minutes away from the Chuenisbärgli, but he had a long journey for his World Cup debut on this course. The 21-year-old travelled from the USA via Montreal (Canada) to the Bernese Oberland. Zurbrügg won a NorAm giant slalom in Burke Mountain (Vermont, USA) on 2 and 3 January and then raced home for his first World Cup race on the Chuenisbärgli because the Super-G in the USA had to be cancelled. He was wearing the high start number of 69, but he almost pulled off a shock. The local man was just 15 hundredths of a second short of participation in the second run.
Rasmus Windingstad should also be happy with his performance in Adelboden. The 2023/24 winter has not gone as the Norwegian would have hoped, but he responded strongly to his zero points in Alta Badia with a 9th placed finish.