Marco Odermatt set to win Alpine skiing World Cup overall title

Marco Odermatt
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This weekend, Marco Odermatt essentially clinched his first of what could be a string of Alpine skiing World Cup overall titles.

The 24-year-old Swiss phenom finished second and third in a pair of giant slaloms in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, upping his lead in the overall standings to a near-insurmountable 329 points over Norwegian speed racer Aleksander Aamodt Kilde.

ALPINE WORLD CUP: Full Results | Broadcast Schedule

Kilde skipped the technical races to prepare for the downhill at this week’s World Cup Finals in France, an act of concession for the overall title.

The only way for Kilde to pass Odermatt is if he enters all four finals events (though he’s not expected to race the closing slalom) with no worse than a win and three runners-up. And that’s if Odermatt finishes outside the top 15 in all of his finals races, which is just as remote of a possibility.

So Odermatt will become the youngest man to win the overall, the biggest annual prize in ski racing combining season-long results across all disciplines, since Marcel Hirscher won the second of his record eight in a row in 2013.

Odermatt, who grew up calculating the World Cup points of Swiss speed racer Didier Cuche, will also be the first Swiss man to lift the giant crystal globe since Carlo Janka in 2010 (Janka retired this season).

Odermatt made his first splash at the 2018 World Junior Championships, winning four individual gold medals. A year later, he earned his first World Cup win in a super-G, becoming the youngest man to win a speed race on the circuit in 25 years.

“Odi” ranked second in the world last season in the overall, giant slalom and super-G. His ascent continued with six World Cup wins so far this season, plus the Olympic GS title and now the annual label that every ski racer covets.

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Mikaela Shiffrin heads to world championships with medal records in sight

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Before Mikaela Shiffrin can hold the World Cup wins record, she can become the most decorated Alpine skier in modern world championships history.

Shiffrin takes a respite from World Cup pursuits for the biennial world championships in France. She is expected to race at least four times, beginning with Monday’s combined.

Shiffrin has a tour-leading 11 World Cup victories in 23 starts this season, her best since her record 17-win 2018-19 campaign, but world championships do not count toward the World Cup.

Shiffrin remains one career victory behind Swede Ingemar Stenmark‘s record 86 World Cup wins until at least her next World Cup start in March.

Shiffrin has been more successful at worlds than at the Olympics and even on the World Cup. She has 11 medals in 13 world championships races dating to her 2013 debut, including making the podium in each of her last 10 events.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

She enters worlds one shy of the modern, post-World War II individual records for total medals (Norway’s Kjetil Andre Aamodt won 12) and gold medals (Austrian Toni Sailer, Frenchwoman Marielle Goitschel and Swede Anja Pärson won seven).

Worlds take place exactly one year after Shiffrin missed the medals in all of her Olympic races, but that’s not motivating her.

“If I learned anything last year, it’s that these big events, they can go amazing, and they can go terrible, and you’re going to survive no matter what,” she said after her most recent World Cup last Sunday. “So I kind of don’t care.”

Shiffrin ranks No. 1 in the world this season in the giant slalom (Feb. 16 at worlds) and slalom (Feb. 18).

This year’s combined is one run of super-G coupled with one run of slalom (rather than one downhill and one slalom), which also plays to her strengths. She won that event, with that format, at the last worlds in 2021. The combined isn’t contested on the World Cup, so it’s harder to project favorites.

Shiffrin is also a medal contender in the super-G (Feb. 8), despite starting just two of five World Cup super-Gs this season (winning one of them).

She is not planning to race the downhill (Feb. 11), which she often skips on the World Cup and has never contested at a worlds. Nor is she expected for the individual parallel (Feb. 15), a discipline she hasn’t raced in three years in part due to the strain it puts on her back with the format being several runs for the medalists.

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Lucas Braathen, world’s top male slalom skier, in doubt for world championships

Lucas Braathen
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Norway’s Lucas Braathen, the world’s top male slalom skier this season, is doubtful to compete in the world championships slalom on Feb. 19 after appendix surgery on Tuesday.

“It’s been a tough couple of days fighting after surprisingly finding out about quite an intense infection on my appendix,” Braathen, a 22-year-old soccer convert with a Brazilian mom, posted on social media. “I’ve been through surgery and I’m blessed that it went successfully.”

The Norway Alpine skiing team doctor said Braathen’s recovery will take a few weeks, but there is a small possibility he can make it back for the world championships slalom, which is on the final day of the two-week competition.

Braathen has two slalom wins and one giant slalom win this World Cup season. He will miss Saturday’s slalom in Chamonix, France, the last race before worlds. Countryman Henrik Kristoffersen and Swiss Daniel Yule can overtake him atop the World Cup slalom standings in Chamonix.

Braathen entered last year’s Olympics as the World Cup slalom leader and skied out in the first run at the Games.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

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