The beard is gone, the mustache.

A few weeks late, Aleksander Aamodt Kilde has now also shaved off the hair between his nose and upper lip.

He was the only skier to extend the Movember movement into December, but not just to continue raising awareness of important men's health issues.

First his girlfriend Mikaela Shiffrin had to see him with a mustache, the downhill specialist from Norway had let it be known on the sidelines of the Alpine World Cup races in Val Gardena in mid-December.

It is not known how the currently best ski racer in the world found him – at least Kilde was clean-shaven again on the joint Christmas photo on social media.

He didn't seem to be completely convinced by the optics either.

It's more to do with his "joy of trying things out," Kilde said.

As a ski racer, he has to constantly test what is possible anyway.

The 30-year-old Scandinavian is the prototype of the downhill skier: a muscle man who sometimes tackles steep, demanding routes at breakneck speed;

He has won three of the four races in the fastest discipline this season - and he is also the favorite this Wednesday (11.30 a.m. on ZDF and Eurosport) in the World Cup downhill in Bormio.

"Focused on the descent"

But his greatest adversary this winter shows that there is another way.

Marco Odermatt is something like the anti-downhill racer.

Well, he has strong muscles too.

Sure, a ski racer now needs them in all disciplines.

However, compared to Kilde, he still seems almost slight.

There is nothing wild about the Swiss all-rounder when it comes to sprinting, it zooms almost smoothly down the valley without much effort.

It seems he still has reserves while Kilde is pushing himself to the limit.

Odermatt was second twice this season, third once.

It's only a matter of time before he's on the top of the podium in the world cup in the fastest discipline.

He has done a lot for it.

Basically, says Odermatt, he always starts "to win".

And that's why he initially "put my focus on the downhill" this winter.

He neglected the giant slalom a bit in training, but was still on the podium in all four races, three times even at the top.

The 25-year-old giant slalom Olympic champion in Beijing won the overall World Cup last season by a large margin, even without regular top rankings in the downhill, but the athletes, who were considered the toughest competitors, were no longer in top form or not quite in top form again.

Frenchman Alexis Pinturault, winner of the 2021 Big Crystal Globe, seemed tired after achieving his big goal, having had a modest season.

And Kilde, who won the overall World Cup in 2020, had returned from a cruciate ligament injury and had not started giant slalom.

Before that he had regularly won World Cup points in this discipline, although he hadn't been among the best.

Odermatt has always been able to keep up on certain downhill runs, including technically demanding ones like now in Bormio.

He finished second there last season.

But in gliding passages he always lost a lot of time on the classic downhills.

His Swiss ski company designed a new ski especially for him.

And for a short time there was room to prepare even more individually with a private team.

His sponsor, an Austrian fizzy drink manufacturer, was willing to finance his adventure.

But Odermatt needs a team around him, colleagues with whom he can exchange ideas.

As he did with Beat Feuz, the downhill Olympic champion, who will end his career after the Kitzbühel races in January.

Thanks to him, he "got to know all the world cup slopes in the quickest and best way," Odermatt wrote on Facebook.

With the help of Feuz, who had dominated for many years, he worked on his weak point - and is now competitive even in flatter passages.

He doesn't think it's perfect yet.

In Val Gardena you can still see the difference to Kilde.

He found that he couldn't hold a candle to the Norwegian in the sliding section: "And Aleksander always takes a lot of risks." Perhaps he sometimes has to risk more than Odermatt in order to defeat the all-rounder.

At least on the descent.