The 2023 Audi FIS Ski World Cup men’s season was exceptional by any metric.
Packed with thrilling races, dramatic finishes and dominant performances, three athletes stood out most of all: Switzerland’s Marco Odermatt, who broke the men’s points record for a single World Cup season, Norwegian downhill monster Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, and his teammate Lucas Braathen, who overcame surgery to win the slalom crystal globe in spectacular style.
It is Odermatt who must take headline billing.
The 25-year-old has always been full of promise: he’s long looked powerful and fearless enough to mix it with the toughest downhill practitioners but also possessing enough technical ability to win on turny giant slalom runs.
The 2021/22 season was his breakthrough: he won seven races overall, doing enough to take the overall and giant slalom crystal globes.
But while many would have anticipated a repeat of these excellent exploits in 2022/23 – especially after Odermatt had won giant slalom gold at Beijing 2022 – few could have predicted the extent to which his rare combination of skills would bear fruit.
His stats are frankly ridiculous: Odermatt made it on to 22 podiums, winning 13 times. It was enough to accrue 2,042 points in total, placing him above the legendary Hermann Maier of Austria, who gathered 2,000 points in the 1999/2000 season.
The feat has made Odi one of Switzerland’s biggest stars. Besting the Austrians in anything ski-related is always welcome, but Odermatt has done it all while maintaining a humble, thoughtful and friendly outlook, too. It has made him extremely popular even among those racers he is beating week in, week out.
How has he done it? Versatility has been key. Odermatt is at his most comfortable on a fast, icy, straight giant slalom course, so rival coaches would try to make runs that are as slow and twisty as possible to try to catch him out. But it didn’t work: Odi’s technique has held up perfectly throughout.
On super-G courses, meanwhile, his strength and technical prowess have enabled Odermatt to master difficult turns on key runs where others couldn’t.
Crucially, he has improved radically in the downhill, too. While he didn’t win a single World Cup in the discipline, he was always a contender. Perhaps the highlight of a season packed with them – from doubles in Kranjska Gora (giant slalom) and Cortina (super-G), to holding his nerve at the World Cup Finals – was the World Championships in Courchevel, where he won the blue riband event ahead of a brilliant field.
Mentally bulletproof and somehow fighting off the season-long fatigue, this was an athlete at his peak, enjoying a proper purple patch of form. Everything came together to produce a season for the ages. It will be something even he will struggle to repeat.
Leave a Reply