Business as usual for Odermatt as he makes it nine GS wins in a row in Bansko, his supremacy and subsequent statistics in giant slalom are startling.
Marco Odermatt (SUI) remained undefeated in the discipline this season, storming to his sixth giant slalom victory in six races in Bansko, Bulgaria, on Saturday. Furthermore, the 26-year-old Swiss star made it nine consecutive GS triumphs dating to last season.
Odermatt clocked a two-run winning time of 2:15.75 to win the race by a staggering 0.91 seconds on the 1,271-meter Banderitza piste ahead of Alexander Steen Olsen (NOR). Manuel Feller (AUT) was 1.08 seconds off Odermatt’s pace to claim third.
The dominant Swiss racer overcame one early bobble in his second run in which he nearly lost his right outside edge. He quickly recovered and ultimately gained more than four-tenths over Steen Olsen from the final split to the finish to win with an exclamation point.
“For sure the confidence is on the highest level and everything is working well,” Odermatt said, after his 20th World Cup GS win. “The skis are perfect. I just have fun skiing and It’s a great team result also.”
With the convincing triumph, Odermatt became the first skier - male or female - to win as many as nine consecutive World Cup events in a specific discipline since Italian star Alberto Tomba achieved his streak of nine in slalom from January 1994 to January 1995.
The weekend races mark the fifth time that men’s World Cup has been contested in Bansko, Bulgaria, most recently taking place in 2021, at which Odermatt finished second in GS.
“I really like to be here, it’s a good crowd, it’s different to all the others races somehow here in Bulgaria. Great hill, great conditions, fun slope to ski.”
Odermatt led the morning run on the Banderitza piste by 0.35 over Steen Olsen.
“The first run was very turny and difficult for the tactics and the second run is one to push,” Odermatt said.
Odermatt has also won 19 of his last 25 World Cup GS races. The last time that he didn’t stand atop a GS podium was when he finished second in Palisades Tahoe in February of 2023.
The Swiss ace attained his 34th career World Cup victory, moving him one past Bode Miller, and now equal with Alexis Pinturault.
Odermatt increased his World Cup GS standings lead to 286 points, ahead of Zubcic, with five races remaining. He has a perfect 600 points in six races.
He has also tallied 1506 total World Cup points, an absurd margin of 822 ahead of Cyprien Sarrazin, after 25 of 39 races. Odi appears to be well on his way to a third consecutive overall World Cup title.
For the 22-year-old Steen Olsen – who made two miraculous recoveries in his second run – the second-place result marks his first World Cup GS podium finish. Previously, he has been fourth twice, both coming in Schladming over the previous two seasons.
“I’m super happy – I was so nervous between the runs, but manage to cope with the nerves and put down a good second run,” said the young Norwegian, who entered the second run 0.35 behind Odermatt. “It’s a difficult slope and it was such a relief to see green at the finish."
Steen Olsen commended the Bulgarian race organizers and course crew.
“It’s a bit difficult with the warm weather, but the race (organizers) did a good job as conditions held up well in the second run, so it was a really nice feeling to ski the slope. It’s so fun to come Bansko, since we don’t usually come here.”
Feller charged hard down the 1271-meter Banderitza course, but threw away four-tenths in the final split. Still, having taken the lead over Austrian teammate Stefan Brennensteiner, who finished fourth, he showed his approval while vigorously pumping his right fist.
“Two solid runs for me, it was enough for a podium and I’m really happy about that,” Feller said.
Feller nabbed his seventh World Cup GS podium, although he is yet to win in the discipline, to go along with five career slalom victories. The 31-year-old Austrian finished runner-up to Odermatt last month in Schladming by 0.05 seconds.
Overall, the flamboyant Austrian said it was an ideal day, partly thanks to the friendly and energetic Bulgarians.
“It was amazing, an awesome atmosphere,” he said. “It’s really friendly every time we come here. Perfect organization and perfect conditions on the slope, especially as it’s really warm here.”
Feller also attained his 23rd career World Cup podium in Bansko.
It was a big day for 22-year-old Italian Filippo Della Vite (ITA), who vaulted six positions from the first to second run to finish tenth.
The biggest second run move of the day belonged to Gino Caviezel (SUI), who ascended eight place from his first run position to finish thirteenth.
River Radamus led the way for the Stifel U.S. Ski Team men in 12th place. Teammates Tommy Ford and George Steffey also found the top 30 in 26th and 28th place.
“Solid team effort all around, awesome to see George score his first points of the season and three in the second run,” said Radamus.
The conditions were strong with sunshine and a hard surface underfoot for the men’s skiers to lay it down on the track. Radamus skied aggressively on his first run to initially land in the eighth spot.
“I am moderately satisfied with my 12th place but I know I have a lot more to give especially second run but I will reset for the next one,” said Radamus. “The conditions here are awesome very similar to what we see in the U.S., pretty dry and grippy so it was a good warm up for Palisades.”
Steffey skied fast out of the top 30 seed to punch it into the 23rd position first run, poised to mark his season best giant slalom finish. Ford skied clean to safely land in the top 30.
“Second run it got a little slushy so to be successful today you had to be adaptable and ski lots of different conditions well,” said Radamus.
On the second run the men were firing to the finish. Radamus landed a few positions back from his first run status to 12th with Ford and Steffey in the top 30.
Stifel U.S. Ski Team athletes Brian McLaughlin and Isaiah Nelson also raced but did not qualify for a second run.
The team was also pleasantly surprised to see alumnus Ted Ligety in Bansko running as the POV skier before the race began. He was able to say hi to the team and offer words of encouragement.
“It was really cool to see Ted out there doing ithe POV for the race today as well. It surprised us to see him here and it was cool to see an old friendly face, he gave me some words of inspiration,” said Radamus.