To say that Frenchman Alexis Pinturault skis with aggression would be a massive understatement. Bringing a trademark go-for-broke style to every run, Pinturault took his fourth World Cup win of the season on Friday, claiming the Adelboden giant slalom make-up race in Hinterstoder, Austria, with a total time of 2:31.72 seconds. Pinturault bested Austria’s own Marcel Hirscher in second by 0.79 seconds as Pinturault’s compatriot, Thomas Fanara, landed in third place, 0.92 seconds behind.
On a day that started under overcast skies and light snowfall, Pinturault held nothing back during his opening run, besting the field by over a half-second. As skies cleared and the sun shone down on the Austrian Alps as second-run action got underway, it was clear that the rest of the field wasn’t going to just roll over and hand Pinturault his second consecutive GS win.
It was vintage Hirscher in the second run as he set a blistering pace that looked nearly untouchable as only Pinturault remained in the starting gate. Not to be outdone, however, Pinturault took to the course and miraculously built his advantage to over one second by the second interval, only to rip through a panel so hard that his body was twisted and helmet strap pulled undone as he transitioned to the flatter lower section of the course. It seemed to have all been lost for the Frenchman, but he kept attacking and crossed the finish to gasps from the Austrian crowd as he walked away with his 13th career World Cup win.
“At first, it was complicated at the beginning of the winter for me,” Pinturault explained in the finish. “I was not as strong as I expected, but finally now it’s getting better. It was a really big fight. The second run was tough for me. I made some huge mistakes before the flat, so that’s never good, you know? Finally, at the end, I was almost a little bit surprised with my time.”
“After two consectutive wins in giant slalom, I may be the favorite for Sunday, but Marcel is still the leader of the standings, and he is one of those guys that is always a potential podium finisher,” added Pinturault. “Honestly, I don’t think I can catch up with him in the standings, and he is still the favorite for Sunday. He is far away and Sunday is a new race, I need to ski strong again.”
Hirscher, who saw his overall lead shrink after a lackluster performance in Yuzawa Naeba, was able to rebound and back up his win in the Stockholm parallel event with another strong podium result on Friday.
“This is how World Cup ski racing should be: a nice hill, a very icy slope and tricky course setting,” Hirscher said. “It was a very good day for me with another 80 points in the giant slalom and in the overall ranking, but a second place is the maximum I could reach today. Alexis showed what is the best giant slalom turn right now and with my two stupid mistakes there was no way I could beat him today.”
For Fanara, finding his first podium since a runner-up finish in the season opener in Soelden was a welcomed change to a year that has been marred with bad luck and DNFs.
“I had two difficult months between Soelden and now,” Fanara admitted. “First, I finished in the net in Beaver Creek. Then in Val d‘Isère I skied strong but made a stupid mistake and couldn’t finish my run. The snow didn’t fit me in Alta Badia and then you start to think, you doubt and the confidence is gone. When you ski only one discipline like me, there is no other race to find your shape again. So you need to be patient, keep training, and hope that things will get better. Here, the snow conditions really suit me and everything just fit together today. I’m very happy to be back on the podium.”
Italy’s Luca de Aliprandini had a magical second run, setting the fastest time and screaming from 26th place after the morning to land in seventh place overall. Sweden’s Andre Myhrer also made an impressive jump in the second run, leaping from 23rd to 10th place overall.
The only American finisher in the top 30 was Tommy Ford in 29th place, 4.49 seconds off of Pinturault’s winning pace. It was another tough day for the American GS team as Tim Jitloff suffered for a costly mistake during his first run and failed to qualify for the second run, leaving Ford as the lone U.S. representative as the rest of the American starters also failed to qualify.
The men are now set to race super G on Saturday, with a start time scheduled for 12:00 p.m. CET. There will also be a second GS race on Sunday at the venue.
By Hank McKee
- Pinturault, Head/Head/Head
- Hirscher, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
- Fanara, Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
- Kristoffersen, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
- Luitz, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
- Neureuther, Nordica/Nordica/Marker
- DeAlprandini, Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
- Nani, Volkl/Tecnica/Marker
- Moelgg, Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
- Myhrer, Head/Head/Head
- Men’s World Cup giant slalom, Hinterstoder, Austria, Feb. 26, 2016. … This is a make-up race for Adelboden, canceled from Jan. 9 because of heavy fog and warm air. … It is the 33rd of 45 races on the men’s schedule and the seventh of 11 scheduled giant slaloms. … It is the first of three races on consecutive days for the men at Hinterstoder. … Philipp Schoerghofer was the last man to win a World Cup GS at Hinterstoder, Feb. 6, 2011.
- It is the 13th World Cup win for Alexis Pinturault. … His fourth of the season and second of the season in GS. … The winning margin is 0.79 of a second. … Top three are within the same second. … Top seven within two seconds.
- It is the 85th career World Cup podium for Marcel Hirscher. … That’s more than 61 percent of his completed races. … He has 13 podiums in 17 completed races this season and has missed the podium in just a single GS.
- It is the tenth career World Cup podium for Thomas Fanara and his second of the season, the first coming in the Oct. 25 opener at Soelden.
- It is the 17th career scoring result for Tommy Ford, his third of the season and first since December.
- Marcel Hirscher leads the World Cup overall standings 1225-1022 over Henrik Kristoffersen (fourth in race). … Third overall is the injured Aksel Lund Svindal (did not race) with 916pts.
- Hirscher leads the GS standings 481-330 over Pintuault with Victor Muffat-Jeandet (DSQ 1st) in third with 197pts.
- Austria leads the men’s Nations Cup standings 4249-4010 over France. … Norway is third with 3685pts. … The U.S. is sixth at 1703 and Canada ninth at 524pts.
|Rank||Bib||Name||Year||Nation||Run 1||Run 2||Total Time||Diff.||FIS Points|
|7||28||DE ALIPRANDINI Luca||1990||ITA||1:18.31||1:15.29||2:33.60||+1.88||12.14|
|12||12||HAUGEN Leif Kristian||1987||NOR||1:17.60||1:16.71||2:34.31||+2.59||16.73|
|20||47||PATRICKSSON Axel William||1992||NOR||1:17.87||1:17.02||2:34.89||+3.17||20.48|
|Disqualified 1st run|
|Did not qualify for 2nd run|
|Did not finish 2nd run|
|Did not finish 1st run|
|71||SIMARI BIRKNER Cristian Javier||1980||ARG|