The Odermatt challenger and the weather god

The Odermatt challenger and the weather god
Marco Schwarz in Zermatt in still nice weather on Wednesday
Image: GEPA pictures/Mario Buehner-Weinrauch

Ambitious – perhaps even a little over-ambitious – Marco Schwarz has announced that he will compete in all 45 Ski World Cup races this winter. Statements that are to be understood as one thing above all: as a declaration of war on Marco Odermatt.

The Swiss had dominated the World Cup so much in recent years as the most complete driver that he could probably only be overcome with a plan like Schwarz’s. With his lead in the opening giant slalom in Sölden, he indicated that it wasn’t just empty words from the ÖSV all-rounder, before it had to be canceled due to the weather.

While the technical competition on the glacier was still Schwarz’s domain, this weekend the first World Cup descents from Zermatt (Sui) to Cervinia (Ita) are in the speed range, i.e. in Odermatt’s territory. But here too the weather gods are giving the ski circus the cold shoulder:

The second training session on Thursday on the cross-border route, which at 3.8 kilometers is the second longest in the racing calendar (after the Lauberhorn), was canceled due to heavy snowfall.

Flexibility is key

The forecast for the weekend is anything but rosy. “You just shouldn’t forget that at this altitude (start at 3720 meters; note) the wind plays a role even in very nice weather. And the race should be a bit fair,” said former downhill skier. Star Beat Feuz. Schwarz hasn’t missed the weather forecasts either: “You always have to be a little flexible at speed, you have to expect cancellations.” He’s doing the only right thing: preparing as if there were two runs on the weekend.

Schwarz completed the first and, given the forecasts for today, perhaps the only training session so far on Wednesday, 2.40 seconds behind Otmar Striedinger’s best time (goal error) in the group of special downhill skiers. Odermatt was just a second ahead of him. As vague as training achievements can be, they symbolized at least one thing: Black is there.

The ÖSV camp sees pragmatically that the area around Zermatt will continue to be a shaky candidate in the future due to unstable weather. “Other people have to decide whether they want to have something like that on their calendar or not,” says ÖSV coach Marko Pfeifer. “I can only see it for sport, and in principle it would be a really cool thing. The question is whether it can really be implemented at this time of year.”

more from Alpine skiing

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Ski start: Odermatt as a benchmark – Schwarz hopes for an early aha experience

Ski World Cup: 9 lessons and excitement from the controversial Sölden start

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