Shiffrin and Vlhova play the title in the finals that will crown Odermatt

ByLois C

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Madrid, 15 Mar The American Mikaela Shiffrin, who is aiming for a fourth final victory, and Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova, who wants to revalidate the title won last season, will play the Alpine Skiing World Cup starting this Wednesday in the finals of the competition, which will take place until Sunday at French stations of Courchevel and Meribel; and which will crown the Swiss Marco Odermatt for the first time.
Shiffrin, who, at the age of 26, has won everything in the winter king sport – and who at the last Beijing Games, last month, made news for not winning a trophy in any of the six events he played – leads the competition of regularity with 1,245 points, 56 more than Vlhova -of identical age-, who last year became the first Slovak woman to win the great Crystal Ball and who in China captured, by winning the slalom, the only title she lacked: the Olympic.
Odermatt, 24, who finished second in the general standings last year, can already be considered the winner, because he commands with 1,379 points, 329 more than Norwegian Aleksander Aamodt Kilde -winner two seasons ago-, who announced that he would not play the slalom.
Even in the unlikely event that Kilde broke his word and did compete on Sunday at Meribel – the venue of technical events and team competition -, it seems even less likely that the Nordic will win relegation, supergiant and giant; and that Odermatt, who on paper will not compete in the slalom and which could also reconsider ‘ In extremis’ this decision, I did not score in any of these three tests: precisely in the disciplines in which he counts all his podiums.
Kilde, 29, who already has the supergiant Crystal Ball, aspires to win the relegation ball – which, like the previous one, will be held in Courchevel -, which he will aim this Wednesday with 23 points ahead of the Swiss Beat Feuz, winner of the past four. The Austrian Matthias Mayer and the Italian Dominik Paris also have the odds of winning that Cup, although remote.
Odermatt, the first Swiss to win the World Cup since Carlo Janka last won the World Cup 12 years ago – retired in January, after playing the relegation of Wengen before his fans – and who won Olympic gold in his main speciality, also has already secured the Giant Crystal Ball.
Vlhova left the final slalom standings mathematically closed in her favor in December; and Federica Brignone – who two seasons ago became the only Italian to win the great Crystal Globe – certified her triumph in the supergiant.
In the finals, apart from the women’s general and men’s relegation, the men’s slalom is at stake, led by Norwegian Henrik Kristoffersen with 48 points over compatriot Lucas Braathen and 64 points over German Linus Strasser. The Austrian Manuel Feller and the Swiss Daniel Yule, more distant, are still waiting for a surprise, in the busiest discipline of all. In whose final, on Sunday and in Meribel, a Spaniard will participate: the Barcelona-born Quim Salarich.
Relegated during the preseason by the leaders of his federation to the national B team, the Catalan – who was an Olympian for the second time in Beijing at the age of 28 – became this course an example of resilience. Confirming the excellent work done with Italian coach Corrado Momo, Salarich has achieved the best results of a Spanish male in the World Cup in the last 42 years; since the time when Paco Fernández Ochoa, the only winter Olympic champion in the history of Spain, was skiing at the Sapporo’72 Games , in Japan.
The man from Barcelona, who repeated the fifteenth place in Val d’Isere (France) in Madonna di Campiglio (Italy) in December, curled the curl on the last weekend of February in Garmisch (Germany), where he was eighth and seventh – a place not achieved by a Spaniard (the aforementioned ‘Paquito’) since 1979; before certifying his qualification for the finals, finishing twenty-fourth in Flachau (Austria).
The women’s downhill cup will be decided on Wednesday between the last two Olympic champions of the discipline: Italy’s Sofia Goggia — gold at the PyeongChang Games (South Korea) four years ago — and Switzerland’s Corinne Suter, who relegated second place in Beijing to Bergamo, who defends 75 points in Courchevel.
The Women’s Giant World Cup will also be decided on Sunday in France. Sweden’s Sara Hector – Olympic champion of the discipline – leads with five points ahead of France’s Tessa Worley and 51 over Shiffrin. Vlhova, 91 points behind the Nordic, also has, albeit far away, chances of winning this trophy.
Adrian R. Huber

By Lois C