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He used to be afraid and love sick

He used to be afraid and love sick

As in Bormio, Marco Odermatt was beaten by the French. Sarrazin has worked extensively on himself over the past year and took part in downhill training for the first time when he was 28 years old. Now it seems that all obstacles have been resolved.

Ciprian Sarrazin jumps into his next success in Kitzbühel.

Leonard Voyager/Reuters

It took Marco Odermatt for Ciprian Sarrazin to come up with this idea. It will be a great duel between them, Odermatt told him in Wengen last week after they stood together on the podium for three days in a row. Then Sarrazin said: “Yes, why not?”

The award for best downhill skier of the season was no problem for Sarrazin in November, the 29-year-old Frenchman shaking his head with a smile at the thought. He finished in the top 10 twice last winter and scored four times. “But now I no longer stop myself from dreaming,” Sarrazin says. Because the Sarrazin from the 2023/24 season is not the Sarrazin from the 2022/23 season. He finally feels like the person he is on skis.

Whatever Sarazin is now: Kitzbühel winner. On Friday he became only the third Frenchman to win the legendary race on the Hahnenkamm slope after Jean-Claude Killy (1967) and Luc Alphand (1995 and 1997), amazingly just a year after his debut here.

In his second year in the Downhill World Cup, he won on Streif: The Journey of Cyprian Sarrazin in Kitzbühel.

He tried to listen to what coaches at top clubs told their athletes

Sarrazin laid the groundwork for this in the summer of 2022, when his giant slalom career was declining. In two-thirds of the World Cup races in this discipline, he did not reach the finish line or did not qualify for the second round. Once he won a parallel event, and once he was on the podium in the giant slalom – and he didn't really know why he was so successful there.

Because he doubted he could be fast in Super-G, he then joined the speed group for a training camp in Chile and also trained on the slopes – without ever being involved in slope training at the age of 28. He was actually the fastest in the second round. Maybe this was his way, he thought. Yes why not?

His method: When he was a kid, he actually had to find the fastest line down. Sarrazin grew up in Gap in the High Alps, competing in downhill mountain bike competitions. He still loves the sport today, looking for the best feeling in the rush of speed. He didn't train at the ski club until he was 14. “I probably would have been bored,” he says. Instead, he freestyled or snowboarded with his parents and practiced freestyle. Every now and then he participated in the race as the only one in his small ski club.

Since his father worked as a coach in other races, his mother accompanied him at the beginning of his skiing career. He was alone on tour. And try to listen to what coaches of major clubs say to their players. His mother was watching the other people left and right to see how they were preparing their sleds and in what snow. But at some point, this preparation is no longer enough. Once Sarrazin trained seriously, things started to improve.

But the first few years in the World Cup were a tough ride. He rarely manages to get the risks right. Sarrazin, a fairly quiet person in his private life, told the French newspaper Le Dauphine that he was slightly absent at certain moments in some races. Fast disciplines require maturity, which he has not yet achieved. “I wasn't comfortable with myself. The way I was skating scared me.”

In Kitzbühel a year ago, he finished 10th on the first downhill, in the first race on the Streif. He fell hard on the second landing. In many situations, his body said it stopped at the right time, but he injured his back before the world championships on home soil and missed the title fights in Courchevel/Meribel. An injury must set a new course.

“It's as if Federer beat Nadal 6-0, 6-0, 6-0.”

As he watched the World Cup matches from his sofa, he said to himself: “I don't want to scare myself anymore. It doesn't hurt anymore. I want to be okay.” He had fallen deeply in love, and he couldn't get over the end of that love. At his lowest point, Sarrazin decided to seek help from a psychologist. “He had actually recommended it before, but he didn't want to do it. “I underestimated the effect the mental aspect had on me.” He also worked with an energy coach who was supposed to solve his internal blockages.

This business itself was so successful that he soon moved into skating. Sarrazin said the problem was purely mental, and his coach did not have to correct anything technical with him for three months, “not a single detail.” When he came to Bormio at the end of December, Sarrazin thought that if he had overcome the bad heartbreak of the spring, he would probably be able to run this tough race. Also important was the statement of the psychologist Sarrazin: “Allow yourself to win!”

Sarrazin repeated these words to himself for three days – until he thought he deserved first place. With amazing leadership, he defeated the no less perfect Marco Odermatt. French team manager Frédéric Perrin still praises this performance, the first win by a French player in Bormio in 27 years: “For me, it was the same achievement of the century that Roger Federer achieved when he beat Rafael Nadal 6-0, 6-0.” In Grand Slam tournament 0, 6-0.”

The driving wasn't completely irresistible when we won in Kitzbühel, but it was aggressive as always – and “clever”, as Odermatt said. Bonus: In the Downhill World Cup, Sarrazin is still 26 points behind the Swiss, who came in third on Friday. Odermatt will have a downhill duel.

Sarrazin recently met the woman who had given him grief in the spring. He says he thanked her. After all, she was the reason he addressed his problems. Yes why not?