Ski racer Marco Odermatt, exhausted, let himself fall into the air-filled gang and cheered with his last strength about the next milestone in his career. Then he knelt down. With his 13th World Cup victory of the season, the best alpine athlete of the present has surpassed the legendary record of ski icon Herrmann Maier and set a new points record in the men's overall World Cup.
On minute-long laps of honour through the finish area, Odermatt was celebrated in Andorra on Saturday. "I was so tired and nervous and now I'm just overjoyed," said the 25-year-old. The Swiss finishes the winter with a total of 2042 points. Maier's previous best performance was from the 1999/2000 season – at that time the "Herminator" collected 2000 points.
For Odermatt, the season ended where it had started in October: at the top of the podium. The 13-year-old celebrated a total of 25 World Cup successes and stood on the podium 22 times. In addition, there are two gold medals at the World Championships in France. Odermatt secured victory in the overall World Cup, as well as the small crystal globes for the best skier of the winter in giant slalom and super-G. "He just drives in his own league," said ex-ski racer Felix Neureuther in the ARD.
Like in a computer game, Odermatt jumps from level to level in his career. In 2018 he won five gold medals at the Junior World Championships, followed by his first World Cup titles in 2019. At the age of 24, he won gold at the 2022 Olympics. Now the next alpine record, which the all-rounder corrects upwards.
Why is Odermatt so abnormally strong? Because he's so normal. Odermatt does not use a nutritionist, as many of his competitors have. "When I'm at the buffet, I load exactly what I feel like on the plate," the Swiss once said.
His quest for normality is also reflected in his driving style. Simple and yet somehow daring: Odermatt's straightforward driving style is his great strength. The slender all-rounder does not need pumped-up muscles to keep up with powerhouses like Aleksander Aamodt Kilde. "Lightness and coolness" is one of the qualities of the Swiss.
The countless successes also present the Nidwaldner with a luxury problem. The space for the trophies is slowly becoming scarce. "My childhood room was converted into a trophy room. Actually, there was no more space available here after last season, but in the course of this winter we found a few gaps," Odermatt told the Swiss "Blick". A drop in performance in the coming season seems unlikely. The all-rounder should look for further gaps.