Skiing: deprived of a final duel by the weather, Cyprien Sarrazin does not delight the downhill globe from Marco Odermatt

There will be no final explanation

Skiing: deprived of a final duel by the weather, Cyprien Sarrazin does not delight the downhill globe from Marco Odermatt

There will be no final explanation. No final mano a mano between the two downhill leaders this year. No celebration on the inflatable tubes at the finish area either. In question ? The bad weather conditions which will have got the better of the epilogue of the season between Cyprien Sarrazin and Marco Odermatt – as well as a good part of the alpine ski season. The Frenchman, 2nd in the discipline ranking, still had the opportunity to win the small globe (synonymous with the World Cup title) of the downhill from his Swiss rival before the Saalbach-Hinterglemm event (Austria) was canceled, Sunday March 24. Rain, sun, wind and then snowfall got the better of the organizers' efforts to maintain the few tongues of artificial snow.

It is therefore the Swiss Marco Odermatt who remains at the head of the specialty. “Canceling the race is a good decision for me, but I think it is also a fair decision for the sport, although we would have liked to fight,” Odermatt responded to the International Ski Federation (FIS).

The 26-year-old skier thus completed the four-year pass this season, winning the “big globe” in the general classification, along with the giant globes, the super-G and therefore the downhill. He becomes the first skier since Austrian legend Hermann Maier (in 2001) to win four globes in a single season. “I spoke with Hermann two years ago, in the summer, after winning my first globes. He then told me that it was even cooler when you couldn't hold all the globes in your arms. So I think it will be a good feeling,” laughed the winner of the day, after thanking Cyprien Sarrazin for the battle waged throughout the season.

With a total of 555 points accumulated in downhill, the Swiss is ahead of the Frenchman by 42 points. A significant gap, which however left a small window of opportunity for Cyprien Sarrazin to turn the table. On the soft, salty snow at the end of the season, all scenarios seemed possible, like the curious weekend of Lara Gut-Behrami. With the leader's red bib on her back before the last descent of the season, the Swiss finished in a disappointing 17th place in Saalbach, being snatched, at the wire, by the Austrian Cornelia Hütter, who had 68 points behind.

The vagaries of the weather prevented Sarrazin from playing his card. We will therefore still have to wait before seeing him join the very exclusive club of the crowned French at the end of the downhill season, after Jean-Claude Killy (1967) and Luc Alphand (1995, 1996 and 1997). “It was the right decision to make for safety, so there is no problem,” put the skier from Dévoluy into perspective. I wanted a fair and safe race, that’s how it is. We are still going to enjoy this evening because we have had an extraordinary season. I’m very happy and proud of myself, I never stopped believing in it.”

“Incredible things in a very short time”

Even without a title, Cyprien Sarrazin's season is exceptional. At 29, the Frenchman experienced a late and dazzling development, after switching to speed events during the 2022-2023 season. Winner in Bormio at the end of December, twice second in Wengen, the Frenchman emerged in the space of a few weeks. His two victories on the Streif in Kitzbühel, in January, completed the sporting and media promotion of him into the elite of his sport: there are only eight (including Luc Alphand, in 1997) to have achieved such a pass of two on the " The “Skiing Mecca.”

But an injury to his left calf on February 16, during training, slowed the trajectory of the tricolor comet. Held off the slopes for three weeks, his end of the season seemed compromised, leaving the field open to the Swiss prodigy Odermatt. It's not a good idea to know the 29-year-old, who, back on his feet, found his skis and his sense of sliding in record time. Back on the super-G on Friday, the skier from Dévoluy was fully reassured (4th) and approached with confidence the announced fight for the downhill globe. A final challenge at the end of his exceptional season.

“Marco told me: “Bravo, welcome back, the match can resume,” explained the Haut-Alpin on Friday to L’Equipe. The two men get along wonderfully, having shared a fantastic evening in Kitzbuhel. “We took advantage. We have to do that there, and I think we've pushed the cursor a little higher. They told us that he had never seen that, reported the Habs, good-natured, to Eurosport. It got a lot of talk in the media, on the good side, that we could be and remain friends off the track. We enjoy, we celebrate our victories, we live.” Their healthy competition could punctuate the next alpine ski seasons – provided that Sarrazin digests this new status.

“Cyprien has experienced incredible things in a very short time,” confirms David Chastan, the director of alpine skiing at the French Ski Federation, to L’Equipe. There are the performances, the various demands, the long days. All this must be tamed and he will approach next season with more experience, where Odermatt has been managing this for years. And perhaps then, take this famous revenge now aborted.