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Sarrazin too good even for Odermatt to continue miracle season in Wengen

Jan 12, 2024·Alpine Skiing
Cyprien Sarrazin has now won debut super G and downhill World Cups this season (@Agence Zoom)

If you hear Maroc Odermatt (SUI) saying you are “by far the best” then you know it has been a good day on the mountain. And so it proved for the extraordinary Cyprien Sarrazin (FRA) as he claimed his maiden Audi FIS World Cup super G race on another stunning day in Wengen.

Twelve months is proving a very long time in the late flourishing career of the Frenchman.

Back in January 2023 Sarrazin crashed heavily into the safety netting down Wengen’s iconic Lauberhorn track, burning his face, but fast-forward a year and the one-time giant slalom specialist relegated the often seemingly untouchable Odermatt into second by a vast 0.58 seconds.

While last season’s speed king Aleksander Aamodt Kilde (NOR) was adrift in third (1.00 seconds behind).

“From top to bottom he was the fastest and he deserves it. I saw him skiing and I already thought that would be very tough to beat,” Odermatt said in front of tens of thousands of somewhat disappointed fans in the finish area.

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Kilde, for whom it is now six podiums in nine races but no wins yet this season, was just as rueful.

“It’s not easy to beat either Odermatt or Sarrazin these days,” the Norwegian said.

While Sarrazin started the season as a genuine outside in both speed disciplines – the 29-year-old had a best World Cup finish in either super G or downhill of eighth before strapping on the long skis in November – he has had to get used to such praise.

“Today I played and I really enjoyed my run. I feel great, I am really proud,” said the man who was sandwiched between Odermatt and Kilde in Thursday’s opening Wengen downhill, but now has a super G win on one of the most famous tracks in the world to his name.

Skiing with his head was the key to his latest achievement, as multiple big guns found the going just too tough (Vincent Kriechmayr (AUT) ended 11th, just pipping world champion James Crawford in 13th).

“I pushed really hard straight on the first (gate), straight on the second, straight on the third. You take no risk if you push at the start (but) then I was not pushing 105 per cent,” Sarrazin said as he delightedly talked through his run.

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“It was on the limit on the (Kernen) S, I skied on the net. Then the super G part I knew that would make the difference here and I pushed hard, 100 per cent. At the bottom, I was 90, 95 per cent, (telling himself) ‘stay smart, stay on your feet, you did a great run’.”

He certainly did. He was in a league of his own down the Hanneggschuss, registering 134.09kmph, almost 3kmph quicker than nearest challenger Kilde. Quickest in the lower mid-section too, Sarrazin jumps up into third in the season-long super G standings.

A heavy crash for teammate Alexis Pinturault did cast a shadow on the day. The 2021 overall World Cup champion, who became a father just a few days ago, got in difficulty off the Silberhornsprung jump and the French ski federation reported that he injured his left knee and wrist. He was evacuated to hospital for tests.

“I think about Alexis, I hope he is OK. I enjoy the victory for him,” Sarrazin said, echoing the sentiment of all the world’s top skiers.

For Odermatt, who recorded his maiden downhill triumph on Thursday, thoughts have already turned to Saturday’s downhill on the full Lauberhorn.

“It’s very long days (here),” he said. “It was already the longest super G and tomorrow the longest downhill (on the World Cup tour). I hope the legs will be fresh enough to attack the whole race tomorrow.”

He will certainly still enter one of his nation’s most beloved sporting days in fine fettle. Quickest through the Kernen S at the top and lightening at the bottom, only a few scrappy mistakes in the mid-part of the race prevented another win for the overall Crystal Globe leader.

Kilde is still searching for his first win of the season (@Agence Zoom)
Kilde is still searching for his first win of the season (@Agence Zoom)

Still struggling with his health after a bout of flu, Kilde is another hoping for slightly better on Saturday (starting 12:30 local time).

“I am probably not in a good shape, but it is what it is. If tomorrow can be better than today, then it’s going to be OK,” said the man who pin-pointed the Langentrajen, the Lauberhorn’s long, flat gliding section, as his downfall.

Check here for the full super G results.