Connect to share and comment

Alpine skiing: Pinturault upstages Hirscher in Wengen slalom

PlacardEnlarge
(GlobalPost/GlobalPost)

French tyro Alexis Pinturault upstaged Austrian Marcel Hirscher to win the men's World Cup slalom in Wengen on Sunday and fire out a pre-Sochi broadside to his rivals.

The 22-year-old Pinturault, second in Friday's super-combined, put in a blistering second leg to clock a combined total of 1min 42.87sec.

Hirscher eventually finished third at 0.63sec, with Germany's Felix Neureuther taking second at 0.34sec.

It was Pinturault's first victory on this season's World Cup circuit and just the fifth of his career.

"It's pleasing not just because of Sochi, but more because I won today," said Pinturault. "I had some equipment problems earlier in the season, but that's okay now.

"It wasn't an easy course. You had to try and attack. I had bib number 16, I knew the conditions we'd have.

"After the slalom of the super-combined (which he won) I felt good, I'd skied well then. I just had to produce the same performance today, to build on it."

Pinturault, whose best slalom placing this season was 23rd in Bormio having been disqualified in Adelboden and failing to finish Levi and Val d'Isere, admitted that the huge bellow he gave out when he crossed the finish line was one of relief.

"I cried out because I'd managed to finish two legs and I was first!"

Hirscher was the man to beat in Wengen, having notched up four victories of a so-far impressive season with a brace of slalom wins in Levi and Adelboden and also topping the giant slalom podiums in Val d'Isere and Alta Badia.

But setting off last of the 30 runners in the second leg, the Austrian saw his advantage of 0.88sec slowly slip away from him as he made his way down the increasingly soft snow of the sun-drenched Lauberhorn piste.

Pinturault, in seventh place after the first leg, blazed down the second run in a leading time of 50.77sec, while Hirscher could only manage the 27th fastest that gave away 1.51sec.

Hirscher's third place saw him consolidate his second place in the overall World Cup standings on 735 points, 22pts behind Norway's Aksel Lund Svindal (757).

"In general I'm really happy with the result and the third place. But I have to say my second run was not what I was looking for," Hirscher said.

"I made a mistake in the most stupid place to make a mistake, just before the flat part, where each metre is really important to get your speed. Yep, it was a stupid mistake.

"It was a run on the limit, but otherwise you have no chance to reach the podium."

Pinturault's 100 points for victory enabled him to leapfrog American Ted Ligety (433) into third place on 506pts.

Ligety had won Friday's super-combined ahead of Pinturault but had a disastrous first leg outing here and was eventually disqualified after missing a gate.

Ligety's US teammate Bode Miller struggled down the second leg and finished a distant 26th at 2.98sec.

Neureuther, the winner on this slope last season, led Pinturault on the splits all the way down his hard-charging run but lost valuable time at the bottom of the slope.

Sweden's Andre Myhrer then couldn't match his second-place showing in the first run, a mistake-ridden second leg seeing him slide off the podium.

It was left for Hirscher to displace the Frenchman, but despite support from the cowbell-ringing Swiss public, he slid out of contention in the bottom third to leave Pinturault in ecstasy in the finish area.

lp/pi-nr

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/140119/alpine-skiing-pinturault-upstages-hirscher-wengen-slalom