Marco Odermatt is something like the Swiss army knife among ski racers. An all-rounder that has the right tool ready for almost every problem on the slopes.
In the dense forest of poles in giant slalom, the overall World Cup and Olympic champion keeps an overview just as much as on the steep slopes in Super-G and in the downhill. From Monday, many eyes in France will be on the 25-year-old. The fact that Odermatt wins gold at the Alpine World Championships is undisputed for the ski experts. The question is rather: how often?
Odermatt's career: From level to level to level
Like in a computer game, Odermatt jumps from level to level in his career. In 2018 he won five gold medals at the Junior World Championships, followed by his first World Cup title in 2019. At the age of 24 he won gold at the 2022 Olympics. This year, the Swiss could break the 2000-point mark set by Hermann Maier more than 20 years ago in a World Cup season. Germany's former ski racer Maria Höfl-Riesch described the Swiss' journey to the top of the world as a "hero's story".
Even slightly stricken, as recently in Cortina d'Ampezzo, the noble technician leaves the competition behind. With his seventh and eighth wins of the season, Odermatt sent a clear signal ahead of the high point of the season. "I'll be at 100 percent again by the time of the World Cup," said the exceptional athlete later. But even 80 seems to be enough.
Odermatt's driving style: easy and straightforward
The leader's chair, in which the athletes sit during the race, has become something of a regular seat of Odermatt. "He's just a merciless skier. He masters a technique that none of us currently masters," said the German giant slalom specialist Alexander Schmid about his rival and ennobled him as "currently the best".
Simple, smooth and yet somehow daring: Odermatt's no-frills driving style is his great strength. The slender all-rounder doesn't need pumped up muscles to be able to keep up with powerhouses like Aleksander Aamodt Kilde in the hose-down shot rides. "Lightness and coolness" are among the qualities of the Swiss. He's not afraid when he jumps out of the starting box - "just healthy respect". But Odermatt is not perfect either.
If you are looking for a flaw in the alpine superstar, you will find it with the missing title at a World Cup and in the supreme discipline downhill. He is a permanent guest on the Schussfahrtsstockerl, but so far there has been too much time on the long gliding passages for the big coup. Perhaps Odermatt's only shortcoming.
But even without a downhill win, the man from Nidwalden has long been a star. His striking winner's smile in combination with the boy's face has burned itself into the memories of the Alpines. Even own songs are dedicated to the ski ace. Does the playlist also run in France? "The upper part of the course is very fast. The end is very steep, much harder for the legs," he described the World Championship course. But Odermatt will certainly find the right tool for this slope as well.