Marco Odermatt becomes the men’s skier that has accumulated the highest number of points in a single season in history on the Avet course
the Avet course in Soldeu hosted a historic day on Saturday. Thousands of people were rocking at the first technical competitions of the World Cup Finals Andorra 2023, the Men’s Giant Slalom and the Women’s Slalom. The stars of the day were, on the one hand, Swiss racer Marco Odermatt, who beat the record to become the men’s skier that has achieved the highest points tally in a single World Cup season ever and, on the other, the Andorran Joan Verdú, who thrilled the crowds reaching 15th position. Mikaela Shiffrin received the Crystal Globe in Slalom, a title that she hasn’t picked up since the one she won in 2019 in Soldeu in fact. After the race, and as an assessment of the season that ends this Sunday, she highlighted that "from my experience I can say that the organisation of this event in Grandvalira has been incredible, just as it was four years ago." She appreciated that organising a World Cup Final event involves a great deal of work, for logistics, etc., because men’s and women’s competitions are disputed simultaneously on the same day. "I believe that Andorra has the ability to host truly incredible World Championships, and all the feedback that athletes can provide, can only help to enhance the potential for this event so that it is even more special," she said.
In the Men’s Giant Slalom that took place on Saturday, the winner by a long way was Odermatt, who won the competition by a gap of over two seconds (2.1964) ahead of Norwegian Henrik Kristoffersen in second place. This gave him a further 100 points and makes him the men’s skier that has accumulated the highest points tally in a single season (2,042) ever, surpassing the record that Hermann Maier has held since the 1999-2000 season of 2,000 points.
Odermatt was ecstatic: "It's incredible! I really don't know how I did it, and surpassing that record means so much to me, as it's probably a benchmark that will remain unbeaten for a long time to come and that's spectacular." The Swiss racer, who achieved 13 wins and has won three Crystal Globes for this season, said that "it has been a perfect season. I never dreamt of achieving anything like this."
Both Odermatt and Kristoffersen already had first and second positions guaranteed in the overall standings in Giant Slalom. The third fastest from this Saturday was Austrian Marco Schwarz, but this wasn’t enough to beat Slovenian Zan Kranjec, who remains third in the overall, and the Austrian had to settle for fourth place.
Joan Verdú finishes 15th in the most important race of his life
The first Andorran in history to reach the World Cup Finals, Joan Verdú, was the main attraction on the day and this transformed the stands into one big party. As he predicted, Verdú was cautious on his first run, where he finished in 19th position. But he raced a magnificent second run posting the sixth best time, which meant that he was able to finish the race in a thoroughly deserved 15th position, with a total time of 2:22.99. This earned him 19th place in the overall rankings in Giant Slalom.
"It was spectacular! I came to the top of the face, and I already heard people cheering me on. It was very satisfying to cross the finish line in such an atmosphere. When I crossed the line and my time was showing in green, it was an incredible sensation that I will treasure forever", Verdú declared at the bottom of the course. The Andorran racer added that "these situations of maximum stress and pressure, which I think I managed well, will help me in the future to continue to grow as a sportsman." But, in addition, he stated that it is also very important for him "to inspire young racers."
Petra Vhlova won the Slalom on the Avet course
The Slovak racer Petra Vhlova (winner of overall in the discipline in 2022), was the winner of this Saturday's race. The overall in Slalom ended with the Swiss racer Wendy Holdener in second position and the Slovak racer Petra Vhlova in third. The competition podium was completed by Leona Popovic, and behind her, Mikaela Shiffrin on Saturday.
The Slovak racer was very happy to have finished the season with a victory and rated the Avet course very positively: "It would be great if you won the candidacy for the World Championships, because it is a very demanding course. Today, it was a true slalom, and it is just perfect."
The overall champion, Mikaela Shiffrin, will receive the Crystal Globe this Sunday crowning her as the best skier in the World Cup circuit, in addition to the one in the category that will be disputed this Sunday: the Giant Slalom. This race will be decisive, as second and third places in both the overall and the discipline itself are yet to be decided. Excitement is guaranteed as, furthermore, if Shiffrin were to win on Sunday in Soldeu, she would beat her own record, making it 88 World Cup wins and finishing a season full of records in Soldeu.
But the most exciting race on Sunday will be the Men’s Slalom, given that up to four racers, two Norwegians (Lucas Braathen and Henrik Kristoffersen) and two Swiss racers (Daniel Yule and Ramon Zenhaeusern), are vying for the Crystal Globe in the discipline.
Agenda for Sunday, 19th March:
- Women’s GS (09:00h and 12:00h, Avet course, Soldeu)
- Men’s SL (10:30h and 13:30h, Avet course, Soldeu)
- World Cup Village (09:00h to 15:00h, Soldeu Platform)
- Casteller (human castle building groups) performance (prior to the World Cup Prize-giving Ceremony at 13:00h, Soldeu platform)
- World Cup Final Fest (16:00h, L’Abarset, El Tarter) with DJ Nano and Soundboree