Marco Odermatt confirmed he is the absolute dominator of the Giant Slalom discipline. With two superb runs, under very challenging conditions, with poor visibility and heavy snowfall, he finished +0.19 seconds ahead of Zan Kranjec. Mathieu Faivre rounded out the Olympic podium +1.34 seconds behind Odermatt.
The 24-year-old Swiss, who was leading, -despite he made a mistake in the upper part of the course-, the race after the first run clearly outclassed the competition at his first Winter Games. Only the Slovenian, after setting the best time in the second run, was able to challenge him.
Odermatt is the 5th Swiss Giant Slalom Olympic Champion after Roger Staub (1960), Heini Hemmi (1976), Max Julen (1984) and Carlo Janka (2010).
Marco Odermatt has won four (Sölden, Val d'Isère, Alta Badia II and Adelboden) out of five World Cup races in Giant Slalom this season and finished second in Alta Badia I. Odermatt is the fifth man, after Jean-Claude Killy, Ingemar Stenmark, Ted Ligety, and Marcel Hirscher, to win four of the first five Giant Slalom races in a World Cup season.
The Swiss finished in the top-five in 16 of his last 17 World Cup appearances in the Giant Slalom, with 11th place in Lenzerheide on 20 March 2021 as the exception.
Leading the Giant Slalom World Cup standings by 219 points, he is only one victory away from claiming the Giant Slalom World Cup Crystal Globe.
"I risked everything in the second run because I didn't just want a medal, I wanted gold. It was a tough day, with the conditions, with such a long wait between the two runs. It was more than five hours for me, it was such a long time to rethink everything and it was hard to stay focused. I tried to sleep some minutes in-between. I didn't dream of winning, but now it feels like a dream", Odermatt said.
Silver went to Zan Kranjec, who delivered a flawless second run. Four years ago, the Slovenian finished fourth in the Giant Slalom in Pyeongchang. The 29-year-old skier has achieved the first medal in Giant Slalom for Slovenia. In 1984, Slovenian Jure Franko won bronze in the Giant Slalom, albeit under Yugoslavia's flag.
"Today actually feels like a win. After a difficult season, I'm very happy that I was able to drive my best race today at the Olympic Games. I've always dreamed of a medal and I'm very happy that I was able to fulfill this dream today. After the first run, I still had my doubts as to whether it would be enough, but I said to myself that I had nothing to lose and just had to attack”, said Kranjec.
The Frenchman Mathieu Faivre, the 2021 world champion in Cortina, won bronze at the Yanqing National Alpine Ski Centre.
“I didn't deliver my best ski in the second run. To be honest, I was a bit nervous, it's been a long day, a long week actually with training and all. But I wanted this medal so bad. Yes, it was a long week, but I have the bronze medal and I'm very happy. When I crossed the finish line and was second, I was afraid that I would finish fourth", said Faivre.