Young-gun Marco Odermatt from Switzerland made history on Saturday, March 18, 2023, when he beat Herman Maier’s 23-year-standing record for most FIS points collected by a male alpine skier in one season. The 25-year-old Swiss won the Giant Slalom race at the 2023 World Cup Finals in Soldeu, Andorra, taking him to 13 World Cup victories for the season and contributing to his total of 2,042 points. Only three other male skiers have ever managed to collect as many as 13 wins in one season: Ingemar Stenmark, Marcel Hirscher, and Hermann Maier.
The record for most World Cup points in one season for a male skier had been held for 23 years by Austria’s Hermann Maier, who finished the 19/20 season with precisely 2,000 World Cup points. It was a record that many thought would never be broken, but the young Swiss skier has been dominant throughout the season, winning 13 World Cup events — and more impressively, seven out of ten Giant Slalom races — and landing on the podium on another nine occasions, earning him valuable FIS points. FIS World Cup points are awarded to the top 30 positions, with 100 going to the winner.
Odermatt went into a solid lead with his first run 1.09 seconds ahead of France’s Alexis Pinturault. He produced a flawless second run to finish a seismic 2.11 seconds ahead of Henrik Kristoffersen and 2.29 seconds ahead of Austria’s Marco Schwarz in third position. Norway’s Henrik Kristoffersen had come in eighth place on his first run, but the Norwegian picked up solid speed on the steeper section of the course on the lower half and catapulted himself into second place.
The course seemed to become increasingly slower on the second run, with skiers dealing with headwinds and the sky becoming darker, impacting the racers’ visibility. Alexis Pinturault, who had come second on the first run, struggled on the bottom section of the second run and finished in eighth position. Likewise, Norwegian Alexander Steen Olsen looked on course for a podium finish after coming third on the first run, just 0.03 seconds behind Pinturault. But the 22-year-old skier slid out on the bottom section of the second run and recorded a DNF. Canada’s Erik Read slid out on his second run at pretty much the same spot, ending his last race of the season with a DNF. America’s River Radamus had unfortunately skidded out on the top section of the course on his first run, also recording a DNF. The American was visibly disappointed with the early end to his final World Cup race. Teammate Tommy Ford skied a solid run and finished in 18th place.
Odermatt delivered another solid run, with the second fastest second run time of the day, when so many of the world’s best-ranked skiers had struggled. This is just another indication of the Swiss skier’s fantastic talent. He skied his second run aggressively and calculatedly, and chose his line well, timing the jumps and rollers perfectly. The young Swiss ski racer is undoubtedly in a league of his own but finds it hard to explain his ability. “I have no idea how I won; I was so tired. We partied hard on Thursday. Today wasn’t easy because of those damn 2,000 points. I really wanted the podium today. So, another victory, two seconds ahead, …. I don’t know what to say.” Whatever his secret is, we cannot wait to see what the talented skier will get up to next season.