Switzerland's Marco Odermatt kisses the trophy of the alpine ski,...

Switzerland's Marco Odermatt kisses the trophy of the alpine ski, men's World Cup giant slalom discipline, in Saalbach, Austria, Saturday, March 16, 2024. Credit: AP/Marco Trovati

SAALBACH-HINTERGLEMM, Austria — Marco Odermatt failed to complete a perfect giant slalom season Saturday at the World Cup finals, where the Swiss star skied out in the second run while holding a commanding lead over eventual winner Loic Meillard.

Odermatt had won each of the previous 12 giant slaloms since February 2023, including nine this season. With another victory, he would have matched the record set by Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark, who won all 10 giant slaloms in the 1978-79 season.

“A little disappointed about this result, about this perfect season which isn't perfect now,” Odermatt said.

After dominating the first run, he initially extended his lead over Meillard to 0.67 seconds but then lost balance on his inside ski after 20 seconds and failed to make the next gate.

Showing his crystal globe — the traditional prize in Alpine skiing — to spectators in the finish area, Odermatt smiled and kissed the trophy, but looked disappointed.

“Of course, there are a lot of negative emotions now. We are all athletes who want to win. If you want to win, you have to take risks and then mistakes can happen,” said Odermatt, who is the Olympic and world champion in giant slalom and locked up the GS season title and his third straight overall championship weeks ago.

Odermatt called it “an unnecessary mistake” which “can happen after 30 races.”

Switzerland's Marco Odermatt competes during the first run of an...

Switzerland's Marco Odermatt competes during the first run of an alpine ski, men's World Cup giant slalom race, in Saalbach, Austria, Saturday, March 16, 2024. Credit: AP/Alessandro Trovati

“I felt the last two days that I got a bit nervous,” he said after the first run.

The course was affected by overnight rain and organizers attempted to harden the surface by sprinkling salt on it just before the race.

“It was difficult conditions, also for the organizers,” Odermatt said.

Getting his second win of the season and fourth overall, Meillard finished 0.71 seconds ahead of Joan Verdu of Andorra, who earned his second career podium. Meillard's Swiss teammate Thomas Tumler was 0.79 behind in third for his first top-three result in more than four years.

Switzerland's Marco Odermatt competes during the first run of an...

Switzerland's Marco Odermatt competes during the first run of an alpine ski, men's World Cup giant slalom race, in Saalbach, Austria, Saturday, March 16, 2024. Credit: AP/Marco Trovati

The result also made Odermatt wait to become the first male skier with 14 wins across disciplines in a single season, with two chances left to do so at next week's super-G and downhill, where he is a strong favorite to add both disciplines titles.

The overall record for most wins in a season is held by Mikaela Shiffrin, who won 17 times in 2018-19.

The race was the first event of the traditional World Cup finals, which features one race in each discipline for both men and women. The first weekend is reserved for the tech races, with the men’s slalom scheduled for Sunday.

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