The giant slalom is a great discipline for the famous American, who last year broke the record for the number of victories in the history of the World Cup (88), and for the talented Swiss. But both are at the start of the season in similar and at the same time different positions.
Shiffrin has already won what she could, she has five major globes and ten minor ones. She will want to keep increasing the numbers and confirm that she remains the absolute queen of skiing of all time. Odermatt has two large globes and three small ones so far. He too will want to assert his supremacy, but he can hardly think of such records yet. If he won the World Cup for the third time, he would already be among the legends.
Both will be pushed from behind by experienced World Cup fighters as well as a number of young talents.
Among the first ones, at least in the giant slalom, we count Federika Brignone (ITA), Marta Bassinová (ITA) and Petra Vlhová (SK) in women, Henrik Kristoffersen (NOR), Marco Schwarz (A) and Alexis Pinturault (FRA) in men. Lucas Braathen (NOR) has shone so far from the youngsters.
It will also be a season without the biggest events – the 2026 Olympics will take place in Italy in three years, the WC in Austria in two years. The competitors will place even greater emphasis on placing in the World Cup.
Shiffrin, who is said to be fit and still full of motivation, will present herself as the main favorite in Sölden. But… it won’t be easy. The traditional season opener for the 28-year-old downhiller is not one of the most popular. In the last six GS races in Sölden, she has triumphed here only once.
Threat of warm weather
On the other hand, Odermatt obviously liked Sölden. In the last two seasons, he triumphed here every time.
At the beginning of this season, everyone is worried about the weather and the snow situation. Especially the state of the glaciers, perhaps with the exception of the already mentioned Sölden, is still catastrophic. September and October were above average warm and many are reporting big problems.
It is still unclear about the races in Zermatt, which start in 14 days. Last year’s premiere did not take place, so everyone hopes that it will be successful this year. But nothing is certain and the snow conditions are far from ideal.
Ledecká in full force, Zabystřan is coming
Zermatt takes us to Czech skiers. It will be the first performance of the season for our representatives. Ester Ledecká has completely recovered from last year’s collarbone injury and is coming back perhaps even stronger than before. The training in Chile went well, the main thing now will be for her to get used to the new material – Czech-Austrian Kästle skis. So far, they are accompanied by very good news. Last year, the Slovenian two-time world champion Ilca Štuhecová rode them, who won the downhill twice on them and collected other good positions. The Swiss world champion Jasmine Flury also joined the joint team.
Right in Zermatt, if the races go ahead, Jan Zabystřan should also jump into the World Cup in speed disciplines. He too will ride on the Kästle brand, he tested the skis just like Ledecká at the training camp in Chile and was satisfied.
Among the other Czech hopefuls, let’s mention Martina Dubovská, who, however, will most likely only start the season with a slalom in Levi in mid-November. Coincidentally, he also races on the Kästle brand.