Odermatt: like Wengen, but the other way around
Once again Marco Odermatt’s performance had Swiss ski fans cheering wildly, while the competition just stood in stunned amazement. Following his podium finish on the Lauberhorn, the racer from Nidwalden brought home silver in Kitzbühel.
When Beat Feuz and Marco Odermatt inspected the most difficult downhill course in the world, many competitors would have loved to have had a microphone to listen in. What the 34-year-old Feuz and the 24-year-old Odermatt had to say to each other was about small things that mean a lot. About tenths or even hundredths of a second. “It did both of us good,” said the Emmental native Feuz of the exchange of ideas with the easygoing younger skier. “It’s good that he’s not the only one who can give advice, and that both of us come out ahead,” added Odermatt -- born and raised in Nidwalden -- about his conversation with his older fellow racer.
These were serious conversations, and they clearly bore fruit. In the ski race on the Hahnenkamm, which -- measured by prize money -- is the biggest of them all, Beat Feuz took the win over Marco Odermatt, whose daring run earned him second place. Odermatt very nearly had to pay a price for his relaxed skiing style. At the jump at the “Hausbergkante,” he was a little off the time, and the new course layout almost cost the Nidwalden racer dearly. “That was right on the edge,” conceded Odermatt. “I’m happy and very thankful that I was able to overcome my weaker self and make it through the gate. Better to miss the gate to the left than try and go right through the middle,” he said. Distracted by the poor visibility, he had “hit the brakes” too hard, too late. In the end, he was 0.21 seconds down, and thus missed the chance to have his name on a gondola not only on the Xpress lift in the Swiss resort of Titlis but also on a high speed lift in Kitzbühel this summer.
Following his second place in Wengen, Odermatt brought home second in Kitzbühel, too. And yet, the two results are very different. In Wengen, Switzerland, the athlete from Nidwalden took second on the shortened Lauberhorn course, but fourth place on the original course. In the upscale Austrian resort, he first missed out on a podium place by finishing fifth on the Hahnenkamm “Streif” run, which had been shortened by taking out the “Mausefalle” and “Steilhang” sections, only to take second two days later on the full Hahnenkamm, with all of its technical difficulties.
Aline Danioth was also able to register an important victory. In order for her to get back into race rhythm following a break after her injury then a positive Covid test, the athlete from Urn entered two Europa Cup events in Meiringen. Four runs, three fastest times and two victories were the positive results. “It’s mega cool to bring home my first victory in the Europa Cup slalom,” said Danioth after the first race. “I have put in a lot of work on technique in the past few weeks, and I feel really solid on skis, even on less than ideal conditions.” And as if to underscore her comments with a deed, 24 hours later she won the second race.
Unfortunately, in the Ski Cross World Cup, Fanny Smith and Sanna Lüdi suffered from injuries. It’s not clear how long both Swiss athletes will need to recover. On a more positive note, Luca Lubasch, the athlete from Bernese Highlands, filled the gap in the lower category event. Luca saw his first victory in a Europa Cup race at Lenk. “I didn’t get a particularly good start, and I thought that overtaking would be difficult on this course, so I didn’t think I had much of a chance. But I obviously found a really good line and was able to overtake frequently. In the final, I started in fourth and was able to work my way up to first,” said Lubasch. Then, 24 hours later, he also fell victim to bad luck. During a passing maneuver he hit the ground a little too hard with his ski pole and fractured a metatarsal in his left hand.