Saturday, November 27 2021
River Radamus speeds up the course in Sunday’s World Cup giant slalom in Soelden, Austria, on Sunday.
Marco Trovati / AP

SOELDEN, Austria – Swiss skier Marco Odermatt edged out surprise first-run leader Austria’s Roland Leitinger by 0.07 seconds on Sunday to win the season opener men’s giant slalom.

American rider River Radamus, originally from Edwards, impressed with an acrobatic recovery in his first run and finished sixth for his best World Cup result.

Odermatt finished third after the first stage, .21 behind Leitinger and .02 behind GS world champion Matthieu Faivre, but took advantage of a second offensive run to put the two riders in front of him under pressure.

Faivre fell to 11th place and Leitinger lost fractions to Odermatt in most of the split times, but still had his career best World Cup result after winning silver at the 2017 World Championships.

“Amazing, it has been a long and difficult summer, we have trained so hard,” said Odermatt.

“Sölden is always special to me. Five years ago I scored my first World Cup points here. To start the season with a victory… 70 guys dreamed of it today, ”said the Swiss skier, referring to the peloton of 71 starters.

It was Odermatt’s third career GS victory, having finished second in the discipline standings last season after wins in Italy and Slovenia.

Odermatt denied Leitinger the chance to become the first Austrian skier other than Marcel Hirscher to win a GS since Philipp Schörghofer’s victory in February 2011. Hirscher, eight-time overall champion, who retired two years ago , has dominated the discipline for many years, winning the GS season title six times.

Edwards’ River Radamus gestures after crossing the finish line in Sunday’s World Cup men’s giant slalom in Soelden, Austria. Marco Trovati / AP

Slovenian Zan Kranjec was one tenth of a second in third, followed by Odermatt’s Swiss teammate Gino Caviezel in fourth and reigning GS World Cup champion Alexis Pinturault in fifth.

Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, the 2020 overall champion who missed the last two months of last season with a knee injury, missed the race to prepare for the upcoming speed trials.

Kilde’s Norwegian teammate Lucas Braathen, who won the race last year before also suffering a season-ending knee injury, set the fastest time in the second run to finish seventh.

Radamus avoided the fall as his right ski soared high in the air and the American did well to stay on course and post the ninth fastest time in his first run. He added an offensive but solid second run to gain three spots and finish .68 behind Odermatt.

“I really wanted to start the season in charge and leave everything behind,” said Radamus, whose previous best GS result was 14th in a race in Bulgaria last February.

“I feel like I had the speed in training. And so I’m just trying to be more fearless, take it more and try to attack. I made a lot of mistakes, but it paid off in the end because I was pushing the limit.

Radamus was the junior world champion in GS in 2019, but struggled to replicate those results in World Cup races.

“I felt like too many times last year that I regretted the turns I didn’t load as opposed to the mistakes I made,” he said. “I am really proud of my intensity and proud of my efforts. “

Radamus garnered attention not only for his skiing, but also for maintaining his tradition of arriving at the season opener in Austria with a colorful do.

“Just to kick off the season,” he said, pointing to the panther colors on his head. “This one is from Chad Fleischer, a great American speed skier of years gone by. So, this is my tribute to him, it’s cool and it gets a lot of comments.

Another member of the US ski team, Ryan Cochran-Siegle, made his return to the World Cup nine months after suffering a minor neck fracture in an accident in Kitzbühel.

Cochran-Siegle finished 31st and missed qualifying for the second run by a hundredth of a second.

The World Cup continues in Austria with the only side event of the season in Lech / Zürs on November 14.

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