'Winning is like a drug': Lucas Braathen victorious in Alta Badia giant slalom

Lucas Braathen showed off his skills on the slopes by winning one of the biggest giant slalom races of the World Cup season in Alta Badia on Sunday.

Erik Read best-ranked Canadian at 21st; James Crawford finishes 25th, Philp Trevor 29th

A celebrating alpine skier is seen lifted in the shoulders of some of his coaches. He is wearing race gear and holds his ski with his right hand and the winner prize with his left. There are five people standing up to his right side and four more to his left side. There are also six people sitting in their calves in front of him.
Norway's Lucas Braathen, seen in the shoulders of some of his crew, took first place in a Alpine Ski World Cup men's Giant Slalom event on Sunday in Alta Badia Italy. (Christophe Pallot/Agence Zoom)

Lucas Braathen might be just the type of personality that skiing needs to join Marco Odermatt among the younger generation taking over the sport.

The 22-year-old Norwegian with a Brazilian mother and a taste for fashion — he's got a line of jewlery for sale — showed off his skills on the slopes by winning one of the biggest giant slalom races of the World Cup season in Alta Badia on Sunday.

Erik Read finished as the best-ranked Canadian at 21st. Fellow countrymen James Crawford and Philp Trevor were 25th and 29th, respectively.

It was a second consecutive victory for Braathen, who won a slalom last weekend in Val d'Isere, France.

"Winning is like a drug, you just need more of it," Braathen said. "So I just tried everything I could to regain that experience and what a privilege to already be able to feel it again."

Braathen moved up from third after the opening run to finish a slim 0.02 seconds ahead of Norwegian teammate Henrik Kristoffersen on the Gran Risa course.

Odermatt, the Olympic champion, defending overall World Cup champion and current leader of the overall standings, recovered from a disappointing ninth in the opening leg to place third, 0.10 behind.

When it was over, Braathen looked like a prize fighter as he unleashed a series of fist pumps to celebrate. Then during the podium celebration when he took his gloves off, Braathen revealed that his fingernails were painted black with the exception of one finger that had a yellow design.

Only two other active male skiers have won a slalom and giant slalom World Cup race in the same season: Kristoffersen and former overall champion Alexis Pinturault.

"It's incredible. Growing up watching Alta Badia as a kid, it's one of the favourites. It's arguably the coolest giant slalom slope in the world," Braathen said. "I can't believe I'm victorious here; it's unbelievable. I'm going to remember this day forever."

It was Braathen's fourth career win. His first came in the season-opening giant slalom in Solden, Austria, two seasons ago. But a serious knee injury later that season set him back and forced him to miss the 2021 world championships in Cortina d'Ampezzo.

Now, Braathen is back on track and shaping up as a medal threat in two races at this season's worlds in Courchevel and Meribel, France, in February.

Odermatt, who won the opening two giant slaloms this season, extended his lead in the overall standings ahead of Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, who didn't finish his opening run, to 171 points.

Braathen moved up to third overall, albeit a distant 381 points behind Odermatt.

Pinturault finished fourth and first-run leader Zan Kranjec came fifth.

The surprise of the day belonged to Andorran skier Joan Verdu, who posted a career-best 12th-place finish with the fastest second run.

River Radamus and Tommy Ford, the top American GS skiers, both had trouble in the first run.

Radamus, who finished fourth at the Beijing Olympics, fell down on his left hip on the upper section and didn't finish. Ford also lost control and had to check his skis to make the next gate, eventually crossing nearly 5 seconds behind.

Another GS is scheduled for the Gran Risa on Monday.

With files from CBC Sports

Add some “good” to your morning and evening.

Get up to speed on what's happening in sports. Delivered weekdays.


The next issue of The Buzzer will soon be in your inbox.

Discover all CBC newsletters in the Subscription Centre.opens new window

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Google Terms of Service apply.