Other SportsSports

Odermatt betting on downhill breakthrough for Kitzbuehel glory

KITZBUEHEL: Swiss tyro Marco Odermatt has yet to win a World Cup downhill race, but the runaway leader in the overall standings believes he has “two good chances” to win in Kitzbuehel. Olympic giant slalom gold medalist Odermatt’s confidence is nothing short of brazen given the Streif piste in the Austrian resort is widely regarded as the most testing on the circuit. “To win here is a dream, and to win a downhill in general is also a dream,” the 25-year-old acknowledged.

Odermatt touched down in Kitzbuehel after two impressive podiums on home snow in Wengen: a third place in the super-G and second in downhill. Seeking back-to-back World Cup overall crowns, Odermatt has won 11 times in the giant slalom and six in super-G, but a downhill title remains elusive despite eight podium finishes including second place in Kitzbuehel last season.

“I was very close to winning last year, then again at the start of this season (when he was edged into second in Beaver Creek). In Wengen last week I was further behind Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, but here I’ll have two good chances.” Odermatt added: “Wengen was tough for the head and legs. I was tired right through Monday but feel better now. I went home for just a day, barely enough time to pack some clean clothes in my suitcase.”

Norway’s Kilde stands second in the overall standings, but has previous form in Kitzbuehel, winning a downhill last season, a fact he said made him optimistic. “It’s different having won here one time,” said the Norwegian, whose partner is American star Mikaela Shiffrin. “I can come knowing that I’m capable of winning and that gives me confidence. “My form has never been as good. I’m enjoying myself and that’s the most important thing to keep up motivation every weekend. “I feel different this year, less stressed at the startgate. I know I’m skiing well at the moment. I’m excited!”

‘Some sort of cat’

Kilde came in second in Tuesday’s first training run albeit missing a gate, while Wednesday’s second training was cancelled amid heavy snow. A third training session is scheduled for Thursday. The covering of white at least hid the brown and green terrain that was showing through on the Hahnenkamm mountain. “Unfortunately we’re starting to get used to it this winter,” he said of a lack of snow. “But the piste is exceptional, they’ve done an amazing job, it’s excellent to ski on.”

Odermatt agreed, saying: “The slope is steep in Kitzbuehel, faster than in Wengen. “I like this downhill. This year it’ll be easier to ski, it’ll be less icy than usual!” One skier who will be making his final appearance at Kitzbuehel will be Odermatt’s teammate Beat Feuz, a three-time winner on the Streif and current Olympic downhill champion. Feuz will hang up his skis at the end of the season after a storied career.

“It’s emotional,” Kilde said of Feuz’s final outing down the Streif. He’s brought so much to this sport, producing some of the best runs in history, like Matthias Mayer,” the now-retired Austrian who claimed wins in the super-G and downhill in Kitzbuehel. “It’ll really be different without Beat. We had a great battle for the globe last year. He’s so smooth, his way of gliding over the snow, like some kind of cat, beautiful to watch.” – AFP

Back to top button