Pinturault hangs on for spectacular Adelboden win
ADELBODEN, Switzerland — Classics season kicked off on Saturday with the men’s giant slalom in Adelboden, Switzerland, delivering nail-biting action as Frenchman Alexis Pinturault took his 19th career World Cup win, surpassing French legend Jean-Claude Killy as the winningest French World Cup skier of all time.
Pinturault’s winning time of 2:23.99 seconds was only a razor-slim 0.04 seconds ahead of Austria’s Marcel Hirscher, who with his second place finish on Saturday recorded his 100th career World Cup podium. Third place went to Hirscher’s compatriot Philipp Schoerghofer, who ended the day 1.94 seconds off of the pace.
The first run saw Pinurault set the pace early with bib one on the fast set that favored aggressive skiing. The Frenchman had a comfortable 0.64 second margin over Schoerghofer in second and 0.70 seconds on Hirscher, who sat third after the first run.
Clouds rolled in for the start of the second run and flat light was the name of the game on the notoriously terrain-filled track, adding an extra level of danger as the top 30 took to the course. With a run that can only be described as incredible, Hirscher looked to have laid his claim on the top step of the podium when he crossed the line with nearly a two-second advantage with only Schoerghofer and Pinturault left to ski. Schoerghofer could not match Hirscher’s pace, however, and slid into second.
Pinturault, after hearing the crowd erupt when Hirscher crossed the line, knew he had to bring something extra to his run if he was to walk away with his first career victory at the iconic venue. After matching the Austrian’s pace on the first two intervals, the Frenchman crossed the finish with only 0.04 seconds to spare as the devoted Swiss crowd erupted into cheers of congratulations.
“I thought when I crossed the line that it was long enough for me today, one or two gates more and I would be maybe behind so I’m really happy about those four hundredths,” reflected Pinturault. “It’s a victory, so It’s something very special. I heard the crowd but it was more or less like every time; you make the first run and then you have to make also the second run and push even maybe harder in the second run.”
Hirscher may have walked away with the win if it weren’t for a first-run mistake, and knew that if he was to have any chance at a victory, he had to bring it all in the second run in order to challenge Pinturault.
“You know, I’m super, super happy with my second run today, another eighty points in the books,” Hirscher explained. “For sure, first run was with this mistake not what I was hoping for and if I want to search for four hundredths of a second, this was the mistake in the first run, that is for sure. I am super happy with my skiing in the second run, that was amazing, and it felt great and so it is a good day.”
For Schoerghofer, who has been enjoying a return to form after some struggles, a podium in Adelboden is a dream come true.
“It was a great day for me,” he said. “It was a big target for me to be on the podium today. I always want to be on the podium in Adelboden as a GS specialist. It’s so cool here to be on the podium, the crowd is so amazing and the hill is great. There’s a lot of tradition here, so I am very happy with my third place here.”
For the Americans, Tommy Ford and Brennan Rubie walked away with some hard-fought points in 19th and 24th, respectively.
“I thought I skied well,” said Ford. “It’s dark light, and I thought I was moving well through most of the course. I had a hard time generating on that (second run) set. And then on the bottom, I’m still getting used to that; it’s definitely a challenging bottom section.”
For Rubie, despite moving back from a 14th-place finish in the first run, his first World Cup GS points are very welcome heading into the second half of the season.
“I was pretty happy with the way it turned out,” he said. “I think I skied well on top and had a mistake. I’ve just got to watch some video and see what I can do next time.”
For the remainder of the American squad, Ryan Cochran-Siegle did not qualify for the second run and Hig Roberts did not finish his first. Ted Ligety did not race as he is still recovering from a back injury and Tim Jitloff’s back went out during warm-ups before first run and was unable to start.
The men now race slalom in Adelboden on Sunday, Jan. 8.
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- Alexis Pinturault (FRA) – Head/Head/Head
- Marcel Hirscher (AUT) – Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
- Philip Schoerghofer (AUT) – Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
- Henrik Kristoffersen (NOR) – Rossignol/Rossignol/Look
- Mathieu Faivre (FRA) – Head/Head/Head
- Matts Olsson (SWE) – Head/Head/Head
- Victor Muffat-Jeandet (FRA) – Salomon/Salomon/Salomon
- Felix Neureuther (GER) – Nordica/Nordica/Marker
- Florian Eisath (ITA) – Blizzard/Tecnica/Marker
- Samu Torsti (FIN) – Nordica/Nordica/Marker
|Rank||Bib||FIS Code||Name||Year||Nation||Run 1||Run 2||Total Time||Diff.||FIS Points||WC Points|
|11||8||421669||HAUGEN Leif Kristian||1987||NOR||1:14.10||1:12.95||2:27.05||+3.06||20.83||24.00|
|28||9||990116||DE ALIPRANDINI Luca||1990||ITA||1:14.71||1:13.82||2:28.53||+4.54||30.90||3.00|
|Did not start 1st run|
|Did not qualify for 2nd run|
|68||54106||BREITFUSS KAMMERLANDER Simon||1992||BOL|
|66||30149||SIMARI BIRKNER Cristian Javier||1980||ARG|
|Did not finish 1st run|
|16||422139||KILDE Aleksander Aamodt||1992||NOR|