Marco Schwarz holds on to beat world champion Marco Odermatt in giant slalom at Palisades Tahoe

Austrian Marco Schwarz had been a perpetual World Cup bridesmaid, but he held off Marco Odermatt to claim victory in the giant slalom at Palisades Tahoe.

The weather was cold and cloudy, and the prediction called for heavy snowstorms, but the Stifel Palisades Tahoe Cup was given the go-ahead after a one-hour delay.

Once action got underway, last weekend’s slalom World Cup winner Henrik Kristoffersen made a strong showing as the first racer down the course.


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The Swede was immediately unseated by Norway’s Lucas Braathen. French veteran Alexis Pinturault – the most successful French skier in World Cup history – was next to top the pile but it came as no surprise when Odermatt – the next racer down – was faster still.

It was, after all, just eight days since the Swiss had taken gold at the FIS Alpine Ski World Championships in the same discipline.

Odermatt has won nine of the last 13 World Cup giant slalom events in which he has participated, never finishing off the podium in the other four.

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He skipped last month’s Schladming race to nurse a knee injury, but looked back to full fitness last weekend in Courchevel.

Speaking briefly to the press after his first run, Odermatt suggested that the outcome remained “unpredictable” owing to soft snow at the top of the course, and high wind at the bottom.

German Fabien Gratz matched Odermatt with the fastest time through the first section of the course but failed to finish the course.

There were 11 racers within one second of Odermatt’s time after the first run.

The Austrian Raphael Haaser took what seemed to be a commanding lead midway through the second run, but was knocked off his perch by the very next skier, Gino Caviezel.

Caviezel, too, couldn’t outlast the next racer down the mountain. Austria’s Stefan Brennsteiner took top spot by 0.48 seconds.

Kristoffersen edged ahead, but Schwarz blasted down the mountain at lightning speed to sit 0.73 seconds ahead of the field with just three racers to come with a combined time of 2:23.63.

Norwegian Rasmus Windingstad was next down the mountain but could only finish second, ensuring Schwarz of a podium finish at least.

Frenchman Pinturault produced a disappointing run, failing to crack the top six and pushing Schwarz to a minimum silver medal.

Only Odermatt remained.

The Swiss made a fast start, but a bad skid midway down the course cost him vital moments and he couldn’t close the gap to Schwarz who was able to celebrate the win.

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