Odermatt wins World Cup GS to end 10-year Swiss drought

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Switzerland's Marco Odermatt celebrates as he arrives at the finish area during the second run of an alpine ski, World Cup men's giant slalom in Santa Caterina Valfurva, Italy, Monday, Dec. 7, 2020. (AP Photo/Alessandro Trovati)

SANTA CATERINA VULFURVA – Marco Odermatt fulfilled his potential on Monday by becoming first Swiss skier to win a men's World Cup giant slalom in nearly 10 years.

Ever since winning GS world titles as a junior in 2016 and 2018, Odermatt was the ski-mad nation's main hope to end its drought in the discipline. After five podium finishes, including in both previous races this season, Odermatt finally delivered in the Italian Alps.

Holding onto a first-run lead, he beat American racer Tommy Ford by 0.73 seconds.

“It’s really emotional for me today. I never had this before,” Odermatt said, pointing at tears in eyes. “It was big pressure today: First time red bib, first time leading after first run. Now I am really proud.”

Filip Zubcic, who won Saturday’s race in dense snowfall, was 1.25 seconds off the lead and outside the top 20 after the opening run but the Croatian skier posted the fastest time in the second run to place third, 0.75 behind.

Odermatt became the first GS winner from Switzerland since Carlo Janka, who was the reigning overall champion when he won in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, in March 2011.

“Such statistics leave me pretty cold, they don’t give me additional pressure," Odermatt said. "I only put myself under pressure.”

Since Janka’s triumph, the Swiss team went without a podium result in the discipline for seven seasons, before Odermatt, Loic Meillard, Gino Caviezel and Thomas Tumler all scored top-three results since the 2018-19 season.