Olympics-Alpine skiing-Favourite Odermatt holds narrow lead after giant slalom first run

Alpine Skiing - Men's Giant Slalom Run 1
2022 Beijing Olympics – Alpine Skiing – Men’s Giant Slalom Run 1 – National Alpine Skiing Centre, Yanqing district, Beijing, China – February 13, 2022. Marco Odermatt of Switzerland in action. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

February 13, 2022

YANQING, China (Reuters) -Favourite Marco Odermatt of Switzerland had a lead of four hundredths of a second over Austria’s Stefan Brennsteiner after the first run of the men’s giant slalom in driving snow on Sunday.

In tough conditions, overall World Cup and giant slalom leader Odermatt recovered from an error in the upper section to cross the line in 1:02.93.

France’s Mathieu Faivre was also within striking distance, finishing just 0.08 behind the Swiss all-rounder, with Norway’s Henrik Kristoffersen and another Frenchman, Thibaut Favrot, also in contention.

The second run is due to start at 13:45 local (05:45 GMT).

Odermatt said his early mistake could have cost him.

“I’m glad I’m still here,” he said. “I had a very tricky situation up top. I also felt like I lost a lot there.

“So, I risked a lot in the lower section”.

The Swiss said the weather was an added complication.

“It’s very hard up there and you can’t see anything. The overall package makes it really difficult today,” he said.

Frenchman Faivre said visibility was poor.

“You can’t see much, you don’t know where to put your feet,” he added. “But luckily the surface is quite icy, quite regular from start to finish, so I succeeded in producing a pretty good first run.”

Of the 89 skiers on the start list, 33 failed to finish the first run. While some of the skiers from non-traditional ski countries struggled, the top contenders came through.

While visibility was poor, the early skiers agreed with the decision to go ahead with the race in the snow.

“Definitely, the light is more than skiable, it just makes it difficult. I like it,” said Kristoffersen, who was first out of the start hut.

“The snow is a little uneven so it is quite aggressive in spots…a little slick … I think it was difficult for everyone.”

One of those to ski out, Switzerland’s Loic Meillard, said it was difficult to pick out the blue lines outlining the course.

“We’ve raced in conditions like that, so it’s not the first time. But of course maybe it is missing a bit some blue lines, some help to know where we go and to avoid any stupid injuries,” he said.

(Reporting by Simon Evans, additional reporting by Simon Jennings and Shadia Nasralla; Editing by Shri Navaratnam/Peter Rutherford)

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