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Top pick Odermatt defies snow and Kranjec to win Olympic giant slalom

Swiss sensation Marco Odermatt lived up to his top billing to get Olympic giant slalom gold on Sunday as he withstood adverse weather and a serious challenge from Slovenia's Zan Kranjec - after taking a nap between runs.

Swiss sensation Marco Odermatt lived up to his top billing to get Olympic giant slalom gold on Sunday as he withstood adverse weather and a serious challenge from Slovenia’s Zan Kranjec – after taking a nap between runs.

Odermatt, 24, is a six-time junior world champion, the overall World Cup leader and had won four of the six season races in the discipline.

But he needed to regroup after crashing out of the super-g earlier this week as top contender, and did so in style in a race in heavy snowfall which also forced the delay of the second run by 80 minutes.

Odermatt held on to his first-run lead for his biggest career victory in 2 minutes 9.35 seconds.

But Kranjec had posed a major threat with a stunning second run which made him shoot up from eighth, missing the gold by a mere .19 of a second. It was, however enough for the silver, the first for him and the Slovenian Olympic men’s team, after fourth in 2018.

World champion Mathieu Faivre of France took bronze, far off the pace by 1.34 seconds.

“It’s unbelievable. It was a hard day, with the conditions, with such a long wait between the two runs,” Odermatt said.

“It was more than five hours for me, it was such a long time to re-think everything and it was hard to stay focused. I tried to sleep some minutes in between.

“It was challenging, I really risked everything in the second run because I wanted not just the medal, I wanted the gold medal. It’s difficult because you can lose everything but today it paid off.

Kranjec said: “I don’t fully understand it yet. In Korea I was fourth so you never know if you will get another chance to fight for a medal. After the first run I said maybe it’s over, I don’t have any more chance. But my second run was really good. It’s unbelievable.”

The top four were separated by a mere 12-hundredths after the first run but second-placed Stefan Brennsteiner of Austria crashed out and Norway’s Henrik Kristoffersen faded from fourth to eighth.

The first snowfall during the Games had posed a huge challenge for piste preparations and for the skiers, with 43 of 89 starters not completing the race.

But the race could eventually be staged while the adverse conditions also led to the cancellation of the second women’s downhill training and freestyle slopestyle qualifying.

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