Under perfect conditions like Yesterday, and with 9,800 spectators, we witnessed today a tight fight for the victory in the Rettenbach glacier.
Marco Odermatt kicked off today his 2021-2022 winter season in the best possible way, taking the Men’s Giant Slalom in Sölden, Austria, and showing that he will be the man to beat this year in Giant Slalom. It is Odermatt’s 3rd career Giant Slalom win and his 5th victory in the World Cup. Despite a small mistake on the steep section of the slope, Odermatt was able to ski to the finish line with a winning run time.
He claimed his first World Cup wins in this discipline last season in Santa Caterina on 7 December 2020 and in Kranjska Gora on 13 March 2021.
The 24-year-old rising star is the fourth Swiss man to win the Sölden Giant Slalom in the World Cup, after Steve Locher (1996-1997), Daniel Albrecht (2008-2009), and Didier Cuche (2009-2010).
"The victory was a big goal - luck was a little on my side today, Roland wasn't spectacular but skied very cleanly. His setup worked. It was close to catching up at the bottom, but it worked out for me. It was a fight”, said Odermatt.
"Soelden is always special for me, five years ago I scored here my first World Cup points (...) To start a season with a victory is something I always dreamed about and it's really great to start like this", said Odermatt.
Roland Leitinger led after the first run and managed the pressure in the second run to take his first World Cup podium in Giant Slalom. Leitinger's best World Cup, and only podium, was third place in the Parallel Giant Slalom in Alta Badia in December 2019.
His greatest triumph was winning the silver medal in St. Moritz Alpine World Ski Championships 2017.
The 30-year-old skier from Salzburg finished only 0.07 seconds behind Marco Odermatt.
“It was a new situation for me. I know I am in good shape, but I didn't expect things to happen like this. I'm delighted that it worked so well. A second-place right now at the opening, that's what I always wanted to have, so that things got off to a really good start”, said Leitinger.
Leitinger proves that an unspectacular skiing style can also be fast.
Austria's Giant Slalom Team trainer Michael Pircher calls Leitinger's style “inconspicuous. He's pretty quiet on the way. Often you don't know when you're watching, is it fast or isn't it fast. He has a calm skiing style, he is one who plays more with centrifugal forces, he is not a brute skier. He brought that to the snow today perfectly".
Slovenia’s Zan Kranjec rounded out the contested podium in third (+0.10 sec). It is Kranjec's 8th podium in Giant Slalom.
“I’m really happy that I showed good skiing today and I think I can be more confident about the season this year. I feel much better than last year so it’s really good to start the season like this”, said Kranjec.
Last year's winner Lucas Braathen of Norway set the fastest time in the second run and moved up 12 positions from the first run to finish in seventh place.
Overall World Cup champion Alexis Pinturault finished in the fifth position (+0.62) behind Gino Caviezel (+0.39).