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  • Writer's pictureRaúl Revuelta

Loic Meillard Wins Last Giant Slalom of the Season in Saalbach

Loic Meillard
Loic Meillard. Saalbach 2024 Alpine Ski World Cup Finals. Picture: Ski Paradise

After finishing runner-up to Marco Odermatt in both World Cup Giant Slalom races in Aspen two weeks ago, Loic Meillard broke the winning streak of his teammate who was unable to finish the second run today. Meillard continued his superb late-season form to hand Odermatt his first Giant Slalom defeat since he finished runner-up to Marco Schwarz, by only 0.03 seconds in Palisades Tahoe on February 25, 2023.

Joan Verdu of Andorra finished in second place 0.71 seconds behind Meillard. Thomas Tumler rounded up the unexpected podium 0.79 seconds off the pace.

It´s Meillard's second win in the Giant Slalom. His previous victory in the discipline was in Schladming in January 25, 2023. It´s also his fourth consecutive podium and second win in the World Cup this season. The 27-year-old skier from Valais finished in second place in the Giant Slalom standings.

"I am very happy. Of course, it's a shame for Marco. But it was time for him to give us the space for once. The fight with Marco is nice. He pushes us all to step on the gas. We have to fight and put pressure on and I knew at some point it would turn in my favor. Today was the day," Meillard said.

"I had some low points, let's put it that way. We kept believing in the work we were putting in every day in training and it paid off at the end of the season. In January if someone had told me I would be second in the standings, I would have laughed and said, 'No, there's no chance," he added.

Joan Verdu achieved today his second World Cup podium in the World Cup. Previously the 28-year-old skier from Andorra finished in third place in Val d'Isère in December. Verdu, who recorded his country's first World Cup podium in the French ski resort, has had his campaign derailed by injury but returned today to set a career-best result after moving up three spots from the first run.

"Results like this, are unique, so it's really special. I feel the pressure but I also feel all the support. I'm racing for me, for my country, and to be able to achieve a result like this after a really hard month for me, it's something crazy. I try to dream big and like this, we can achieve big, big dreams", Verdu said.

Thomas Tumler finished in third place, his third World Cup podium, and the second one in Giant Slalom. The 34-year-old skier is at his best in the late fall of his career and was rewarded with a podium finish after narrowly missing out it in Aspen and Palisades Tahoe.

"This is by far the best podium finish of my career. I lost my trust in my body. The body was good but the head was the problem, and I needed two more years to get back to this comfort mode with my body. But step by step, it was possible to come back to this nice moment," Tumler said.

World Cup Overall and Giant Slalom winner Marco Odermatt did not finish the second run. The last time the Swiss DNF a Giant Slalom race was in Beaver Creek in December 2019.

Until today Odermatt has finished on the podium in all of his last 26 World Cup starts in the Giant Slalom, including 21 victories.

"Logically, I’m not at an emotional high like my teammates. But that's sport and it's part of it. If you want to win, you have to risk. Then a mistake can happen. I wanted to accelerate using the inside ski and then I hooked up, that's when it happened. It's always a shame to end the season with negative emotions when there were nine good reasons for positive emotions. The other nine races were perfect, that would have been the goal today too. Now things have turned out differently," Odermatt said.


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