Odermatt misses 45-year-old record as Meillard wins World Cup giant slalom finale

Marco Odermatt failed to complete a perfect giant slalom season Saturday at the World Cup finals in Saalbach, Austria, where the Swiss star skied out in the second run while holding a commanding lead over eventual winner Loic Meillard.

Swiss star skies out to fall short of Stenmark's 10-for-10 win mark from 1978-79

A men's skier veers around a flag.
Switzerland's Marco Odermatt skied out in the second run of the World Cup giant slalom season finale on Saturday in Saalbach, Austria in his quest to win all 10 events of the season. (Joe Klamar/AFP via Getty Images)

Marco Odermatt failed to complete a perfect giant slalom season Saturday at the World Cup finals in Saalbach, Austria, where the Swiss star skied out in the second run while holding a commanding lead over eventual winner Loic Meillard.

Odermatt had won each of the previous 12 giant slaloms since February 2023, including nine this season. With another victory, he would have matched the record set by Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark, who won all 10 giant slaloms in the 1978-79 season.

"A little disappointed about this result, about this perfect season which isn't perfect now," Odermatt said.

After dominating the first run, he initially extended his lead over Meillard to 0.67 seconds but then lost balance on his inside ski after 20 seconds and failed to make the next gate.

WATCH | Odermatt falls short of record:

Marco Odermatt misses out on perfect season by doing something he hasn't all year

2 months ago
Duration 5:15
With Loic Meillard leading in the season's final race, Odermatt had a chance to break a 45-year-old giant slalom record as the event's last skier.

Showing his Crystal Globe — the traditional prize in alpine skiing — to spectators in the finish area, Odermatt smiled and kissed the trophy, but looked disappointed.

"Of course, there are a lot of negative emotions now. We are all athletes who want to win. If you want to win, you have to take risks and then mistakes can happen," said Odermatt, who is the Olympic and world champion in giant slalom and locked up the GS season title and his third straight overall championship weeks ago.

Odermatt called it "an unnecessary mistake" which "can happen after 30 races."

The course was affected by overnight rain and organizers attempted to harden the surface by sprinkling salt on it just before the race.

"It was difficult conditions, also for the organizers," Odermatt said.

Getting his second win of the season and fourth overall, Meillard finished 0.71 seconds ahead of Joan Verdu of Andorra, who earned his second career podium. Meillard's Swiss teammate Thomas Tumler was 0.79 behind in third for his first top-three result in more than four years.

Three men's skiers pose with their hands raised in celebration.
Second-placed Andorra's Joan Verdu, left, winner Switzerland's Loic Meillard, middle, and third-placed Switzerland's Thomas Tumler pose after Saturday's competition. (Joe Klamar/AFP via Getty Images)

There were no Canadians entered in the race.

The result also made Odermatt wait to become the first male skier with 14 wins across disciplines in a single season, with two chances left to do so at next week's super-G and downhill, where he is a strong favourite to add both disciplines titles.

WATCH | Full coverage of 2nd run from Saalbach, Austria:

FIS Alpine Ski World Cup Saalbach: Men’s giant slalom 2nd run

2 months ago
Duration 1:01:19
Catch the deciding run of the men's giant slalom race from the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup event in Saalbach, Austria.

The overall record for most wins in a season is held by Mikaela Shiffrin, who won 17 times in 2018-19.

The race was the first event of the traditional World Cup finals, which features one race in each discipline for both men and women. The first weekend is reserved for the tech races, with the men's slalom scheduled for Sunday.

With files from CBC Sports

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