These images are starting to become a refrain, and are chilling the world of alpine skiing, which refuses to get used to them. On Saturday January 13, Norwegian skier Aleksander Aamodt Kilde was evacuated by helicopter, following a serious fall in the last turn of the descent in Wengen (Switzerland) – won by the Swiss Marco Odermatt, ahead of the Frenchman Cyprien Sarrazin, once again at the rendezvous.

“I hope that this will serve as a lesson, and that we will never string together three races here again,” tackled the winner, whose success was overshadowed by the heavy injury of the double Olympic medalist at the last Olympic Games in Beijing ( 2022). Because the formidable Lauberhorn slope, in the Swiss resort, has taken a heavy toll among the big names in skiing. On Friday, Frenchman Alexis Pinturault was forced to end his season, after rupturing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during the Super-G won by his compatriot Sarrazin.

Like Kilde, on Saturday, last winter’s combined world champion was evacuated by helicopter after an impressive fall following a jump on the longest track of the season (4.5 km, for the downhill ).

If serious injuries are the lot of skiers, and most athletes on the circuit have suffered numerous physical setbacks during their careers, the chain of injuries to the big names in the discipline in less than a month cannot be ignored. At the end of December 2023, Austrian skier Marco Schwarz, one of the big favorites for the big crystal globe rewarding the overall winner of the World Cup, ended his season following a serious injury – at knee, too – in Bormio (Italy). And the Swiss Odermatt finds himself without competition, or almost, with a view to a third big crystal globe in a row at the end of the season.

A third podium in three days for Sarrazin

Skiers’ bodies are put to the test. Saturday’s descent was the third race in as many days on the Wengen piste, a program modified – with the addition of a “sprint” race on Thursday – by the International Ski Federation (FIS) following the big upheaval at the start of the season. The first five speed races were canceled, notably in Zermatt (Switzerland) then Beaver Creek (United States), due to unstable weather conditions.

Very demanding, the Lauberhorn slope trapped, on Saturday, many skiers visibly exhausted by the sequence of races. And discontent is growing among skiers after these races without interruption, a choice dictated by the FIS. “It’s the life of downhillers, but today Aleksander’s [Aamodt Kilde] fall could have been avoided,” cursed Cyprien Sarrazin at the finish. Three races in a row, ending with the longest of the year… I didn’t come far from doing like him. »

Second in Wengen, his third podium in as many days after his victory on Friday in Super-G and his second place in downhill on Thursday, the skier from Dévoluy (Hautes-Alpes) continues his high-flying season. Long kept away from the podiums, the 29-year-old Frenchman is exploding this season, in the wake of his coronation in Bormio (Italy) on December 28, the first for a Blue in downhill in eight years. If injuries spare him, Cyprien Sarrazin, currently second, could quickly apply for the coronation in the Downhill World Cup this season.