Marco Odermatt wins Beaver Creek super-G after stars ski out

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BEAVER CREEK, Colo. — Marco Odermatt charged precisely where he needed to charge along the challenging super-G course. The Swiss racer took chances only where he knew he could.

Odermatt is quickly turning into one to watch with the Beijing Olympics two months away, gliding through the steep and sun-drenched Birds of Prey course Thursday to capture his second World Cup victory of the young season.

He navigated the technical super-G setup in 1 minute, 8.61 seconds to hold off Austria’s Matthias Mayer by 0.78 seconds. The real surprise was Canada’s Broderick Thompson, who finished third while wearing bib No. 35 — a rare podium finish for someone not in the top 30 entrants.

Thompson’s overriding emotion after earning his first top-three World Cup showing?

“Disbelief,” the 27-year-old Thompson said.

ALPINE WORLD CUP: Full Results | Broadcast Schedule

Five of the first 15 starters failed to finish.

That included 2020 World Cup overall champ Aleksander Aamodt Kilde of Norway, 2019 World super-G champion Dominik Paris of Italy, three-time World Cup race winner Max Franz of Austria and Romed Baumann, the surprise 2021 World Championships silver medalist for Germany. All skied off course and did not crash.

The 24-year-old Odermatt is certainly impressing his rivals.

“His skiing is good. His tactic is very aggressive,” Mayer said. “And that’s what makes him so fast.”

This marked back-to-back super-G wins for Odermatt at Beaver Creek (sandwiched around last season’s cancellation because of the coronavirus pandemic). In 2019, he was on edge the whole way down.

In this one, same thing.

“You had to attack and be clever in some sections and the combination worked well,” said Odermatt, who also won a giant slalom race in Austria in October. “It’s really difficult here, as always. You just have to trust your feeling and your skiing.”

Not to be overshadowed was the performance of Thompson, whose late charge was the surprise of the afternoon and knocked Germany’s Andreas Sander off the podium.

Thompson paid close attention to the trouble spots that proved problematic for some early racers, in particular a tricky and fast section up top that went from full sunlight into darkness. The shadows weren’t as prevalent when the competitors made their prerace inspection.

But Thompson found a fast line through there and to the finish.

“I knew I had a decent run, but I looked at the time and seeing third — I can’t put words to it,” said Thompson, whose best World Cup finish entering the race was eighth in an Alpine combined event in 2017. “I honestly still can’t really believe it.”

His coach could.

“Did I see a podium run today? We know if he puts it together, he’s capable of that,” said Canadian coach John Kucera, who was the downhill world champion in 2009. “But for sure, that was an exciting result.”

The top American finisher was Ryan Cochran-Siegle in a tie for 19th, 1.95 seconds behind Odermatt. Fourteen racers didn’t finish the challenging course; Felix Monsen of Sweden had a quick run going but crashed near the end and slid across the finish line.

“It was very technical, actually,” said Mayer, a two-time Olympic champion. “We can see that so many racers did not finish. They missed a gate anywhere, especially on the flat area and at the finish jump. It was a very technical (race). That’s how a super-G should be.”

The Birds of Prey World Cup stop continues Friday with another super-G, live on NBCSN and Peacock.

Mikaela Shiffrin headlines women’s speed races this weekend in Lake Louise, Canada, also live on Peacock.

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In a tie, Wendy Holdener puts to rest a remarkable stat in Alpine skiing

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Swiss Wendy Holdener ended one of the most remarkable victory droughts in sports by tying for the win with Swede Anna Swenn Larsson in a World Cup slalom in Killington, Vermont, on Sunday.

Holdener, after 15 second-place finishes and 15 third-place finishes in her career, stood on the top step of a World Cup slalom podium for the first time. She shared it with Swenn Larsson, who had six World Cup slalom podiums before Sunday and also earned her first win.

They beat Austrian Katharina Truppe by .22 of a second combining times from two runs.

ALPINE SKIING: Full Results | Broadcast Schedule

Holdener, 29, previously won three World Cups in other disciplines, plus two world championships in the combined and Olympic and world titles in the team event.

“To be tied first when I came into the finish was such a relief,” Holdener said while shoulder to shoulder with Swenn Larsson. “On the end, it’s perfect, because now we can share our first win together.”

Mikaela Shiffrin had the best first-run time but lost her lead midway through the second run and finished fifth. Shiffrin, who won the first two slaloms this season last weekend, was bidding for a 50th World Cup slalom victory and a sixth win in six slaloms in Killington.

“I fought. I think some spots I got a little bit off my timing, but I was pushing, and that’s slalom,” she said before turning her attention to Holdener and Swenn Larsson. “It’s a pretty special day, actually.”

The women’s Alpine skiing World Cup moves next weekend to Lake Louise, Alberta, with two downhills and a super-G.

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Injured Ilia Malinin wins Grand Prix Finland, qualifies for Grand Prix Final

Ilia Malinin
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Ilia Malinin, competing “a little bit injured” this week, still won Grand Prix Finland and goes into the Grand Prix Final in two weeks as the world’s top-ranked male singles skater.

Malinin, who was second after Friday’s short program, landed four clean quadruple jumps in Saturday’s free skate to overtake Frenchman Kevin Aymoz.

Malinin, who landed a quad flip in competition for the first time, according to SkatingScores.com, also attempted a quad Axel to open his program, but spun out of the landing and put his hand down on the ice.

Malinin also won his previous two starts this season in come-from-behind fashion. The 17-year-old world junior champion became the first skater to land a clean, fully rotated quad Axel in September, then did it again in October at Skate America, where he posted the world’s top overall score this season.

Next, Malinin can become the second-youngest man to win the Grand Prix Final after Russian Yevgeny Plushenko. His biggest competition is likely to be world champion Shoma Uno of Japan, who like Malinin won both of his Grand Prix starts this fall. Malinin and Uno have not gone head-to-head this season.

Grand Prix Finland highlights air on NBC, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET.

FIGURE SKATING: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Earlier, Japan’s Mai Mihara overtook world silver medalist Loena Hendrickx of Belgium to become the only woman to win both of her Grand Prix starts this season. Mihara prevailed by .23 of a point. The top three women this season by best total score are Japanese, led by a junior skater, 14-year-old Mao Shimada, who isn’t Olympic age-eligible until 2030.

Mihara and Hendrickx qualified for the Grand Prix Final, joining world champion Kaori Sakamoto and Rinka Watanabe, both of Japan, South Korean Yelim Kim and American Isabeau Levito, the world junior champion.

Italians Rebecca Ghilardi and Filippo Ambrosini won both pairs’ programs and qualified for their first Grand Prix Final.

Japan’s Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara and Americans Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier headline the Final. Both pairs won each of their Grand Prix starts earlier this fall. The Japanese have the world’s two best scores this season. The Americans are reigning world champions.

At least one Russian or Chinese pair made every Grand Prix Final podium — usually pairs from both countries — but neither nation competed in pairs this Grand Prix season. All Russian skaters are banned due to the war in Ukraine. China’s lone entry on the Grand Prix across all disciplines was an ice dance couple.

Canadians Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier improved on their world-leading score for this season in winning the ice dance by 17.03 points over Americans Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker. Both couples qualified for the Grand Prix Final in the absence of all three Olympic medalists this fall.

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