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Marco Odermatt, Swiss phenom, stamps arrival with first World Cup win

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BEAVER CREEK, Colo. (AP) — Marco Odermatt’s fellow racers watched from the top as he went too straight around one turn and nearly crossed his skis before another.

They marveled at his ability to recover. They admired his capacity to stay composed.

Above all: They know this 22-year-old from Switzerland will be a factor for quite some time.

Odermatt went on a wild ride to finish the technical Birds of Prey course in 1 minute, 10.90 seconds Friday to earn his first World Cup victory. Aleksander Aamodt Kilde of Norway was second, 0.10 seconds behind, and Austrian Matthias Mayer took third.

“It was a perfect day for me, with a nearly perfect run,” said Odermatt, the youngest man to win a World Cup speed event since 1994. “I was really on the edge. I was lucky.”

Or skillful.

He nearly went out in two spots only to recover and keep on cruising to the finish line.

In doing so, Odermatt snapped Austria’s string of four straight World Cup super-G wins at Beaver Creek. He needed a run just like this, too — barely on the verge of control around several turns.

“It’s whoever is willing to take the most risk and then pull it off,” said Travis Ganong, who finished sixth for the top finish among the Americans. “Odermatt, he took way too much risk and somehow it worked out. That’s a one out of 100 run.”

Odermatt was the second racer to take the hill, which can be a benefit or a detriment. On the positive side, the snow is still fresh. On the down side, there’s no course report.

The consensus was that going that early and making that sort of mistake was a benefit for Odermatt, because he was indeed able to recover on a cleaner track.

The one thing he didn’t do was panic.

“I just didn’t want to break there and so I went full speed there and lost not so much speed,” said Odermatt, who was sure they were celebrating in his hometown of Buochs, Switzerland. “So it was possible to do a good run.”

His run earned the admiration of Kilde, who was among those watching Odermatt from the top of the course. Then again, Kilde’s been singing the praises of this new kid on the scene for a while.

This was Odermatt’s third career World Cup podium and first in speed. He took second and third places in giant slalom competitions last season. Odermatt also won four of five individual titles at the 2018 World Junior Championships in Switzerland.

“It looks so easy when he skis,” Kilde said. “Today, he really charged. I knew that was going to be really fast.”

Like Odermatt, Kilde made a tiny mistake. But he still turned in a fast time as the No. 17 racer.

“I knew,” Kilde said, “I had to charge myself …”

“And he did,” Odermatt playfully interrupted.

“… And I did,” said Kilde, who finished in a three-way tie for third place last season during the super-G at Beaver Creek. “One mistake here, and he has one mistake and together we were one and two. He’s for sure the guy for the future. He’s going to be the guy for Beaver Creek for the next 20 years.”

Mayer had a strong run despite a sore hip. He crashed in a giant slalom training session Tuesday and wasn’t sure how the hip would respond. Mayer won the opening super-G race of the season in Lake Louise, Alberta, last weekend.

“My hip is better,” Mayer said. “I’m pretty happy about third place.”

For German racer Thomas Dressen, this was about getting comfortable on the course again and not so much his place (27th). He crashed a year ago in Beaver Creek and tore the ACL in his right knee. Dressen, who won the downhill in Lake Louise last weekend, feels even more comfortable ahead of Saturday’s downhill.

“It’s not the course’s fault that I crashed. It’s mine,” Dressen said. “If you’re honest with yourself, you can learn from your mistakes. I like the course a lot. It’s one of my favorites.”

There were several “DNFs” — did not finish — on the technical course, including the first racer of the day, Adrien Theaux of France.

“Today was especially challenging with the set,” Ganong said. “Really high speeds into some big fall-away turns, super bumpy. … It was fun.”

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Bobby Joe Morrow, triple Olympic sprint champion, dies at 84

Bobby Joe Morrow
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Bobby Joe Morrow, one of four men to win the 100m, 200m and 4x100m at one Olympics, died at age 84 on Saturday.

Morrow’s family said he died of natural causes.

Morrow swept the 100m, 200m and 4x100m at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, joining Jesse Owens as the only men to accomplish the feat. Later, Carl Lewis and Usain Bolt did the same.

Morrow, raised on a farm in San Benito, Texas, set 11 world records in a short career, according to World Athletics.

He competed in one Olympics, and that year was named Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year while a student at Abilene Christian. He beat out Mickey Mantle and Floyd Patterson.

“Bobby had a fluidity of motion like nothing I’d ever seen,” Oliver Jackson, the Abilene Christian coach, said, according to Sports Illustrated in 2000. “He could run a 220 with a root beer float on his head and never spill a drop. I made an adjustment to his start when Bobby was a freshman. After that, my only advice to him was to change his major from sciences to speech, because he’d be destined to make a bunch of them.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Johnny Gregorek runs fastest blue jeans mile in history

Johnny Gregorek
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Johnny Gregorek, a U.S. Olympic hopeful runner, clocked what is believed to be the fastest mile in history for somebody wearing jeans.

Gregorek recorded a reported 4 minutes, 6.25 seconds, on Saturday to break the record by more than five seconds (with a pacer for the first two-plus laps). Gregorek, after the record run streamed live on his Instagram, said he wore a pair of 100 percent cotton Levi’s.

Gregorek, the 28-year-old son of a 1980 and 1984 U.S. Olympic steeplechaser, finished 10th in the 2017 World Championships 1500m. He was sixth at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials.

He ranked No. 1 in the country for the indoor mile in 2019, clocking 3:49.98. His outdoor mile personal best is 3:52.94, ranking him 30th in American history.

Before the attempt, a fundraiser was started for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, garnering more than $29,000. Gregorek ran in memory of younger brother Patrick, who died suddenly in March 2019.

“Paddy was a fan of anything silly,” Gregorek posted. “I think an all out mile in jeans would tickle him sufficiently!”

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