Marco Odermatt opened the Alpine Ski World Cup season with a dazzling men's giant slalom victory in Sölden ©Getty Images

Marco Odermatt opened the Alpine Ski World Cup season with a dazzling men's giant slalom victory on the Rettenbach Glacier above the Austrian town of Sölden.

A day after the scheduled women's giant slalom had been cancelled because of inclement weather, the 25-year-old Swiss athlete, a runaway winner of the Alpine Ski World Cup overall and giant slalom competitions last season and also the giant slalom gold medallist at Beijing 2022, successfully defended his title in the traditional season-opening venue.

With crowds thronging the course at this International Ski and Snowboard Federation (FIS) event after the two years of COVID-19 restrictions, Odermatt produced a near-perfect first run on a deteriorating piste which left him top of the 30 racers, 0.4sec ahead of Lucas Braathen of Norway.

But Braathen slipped to fourth overall at the end of a second run which saw Slovenia’s Beijing 2022 silver medallist Zan Kranjec produce an inspired effort to take the lead with two racers still to go.

Odermatt rose to the challenge, however, finishing 0.76 faster than Krajec after his final run, with Norway’s Henrik Kristoffersen coming through for third place at +0.97.

"I was actually not sure if this was enough to win," Odermatt, 25, told FIS as he described his feelings crossing the line.

"It was a really big fight, bumpy and difficult, the snow got worse and worse.

"It was really hard to ski and I guess everyone made some mistakes.

"So I’m really happy.

"It’s an amazing start to the new season.

"Sölden is always special, and it is very important if you can have a good result.

"It gives you confidence you did everything right in the summer, and it’s easier to ski the next races."

It was the 12th time Odermatt had collected a maximum of 100 points in World Cup competition.

Kristoffersen, meanwhile, was relieved to make it onto the podium for the first time at a venue he has struggled at in the past.

"It’s unbelievable - before today this was my worst hill in giant slalom on the tour," he said.

"Without the two mistakes it would have looked even better.

"Perfect doesn’t exist.

"It’s a great day for Norway."

Kristoffersen was referencing the fact that seven Norwegian skiers made it into the final 30 that contested the second run.

With the men's downhill racing at Zermatt-Cervinia in Switzerland also being cancelled due to a lack of snow and the safety situation on the last section of the piste, the next men's World Cup racing will come in the parallel giant slalom at Lech-Zuers in Austria on Sunday, November 13.