After an admittedly lackluster start to his season, Frenchman Alexis Pinturault has undoubtedly found his form as of late, taking his third giant slalom in a row on Sunday in Hinterstoder, Austria, dominating the field with a total time of 2:43.88 seconds. Austrian Marcel Hirscher was a distant second, 1.14 seconds back, and Norwegian Henrik Kristofersen rounded out the podium in third, 1.26 seconds behind the blistering pace set by Pinturault.
Heavily overcast skies and slightly softer snow conditions compared to the last two days of racing was on tap on Sunday, and at first, it looked like Hirscher was finally going to give Pinturault a run for his money in the second run. Alas, once again, undaunted by the challenge laid down in front of him, the French star picked apart the second run set with ease and built upon his advantage at each interval until crossing the finish by a massive winning margin.
“It was a good run and a strong run,” Pinturault said. “Second run was quite tough on the top, it was really bumpy, the snow was not the same as two days ago but I tried to push really hard and it seems to be one of the most perfect races for me.”
“There [are] still three GS races so anything can happen, but it is also going to be difficult for us because Marcel competes in slalom and GS and I compete in slalom and GS,” he added about the chase for the giant slalom discipline globe. “It’s going to be tough like this weekend. Today, I think we were really tired, even when we stood on the podium we were tired.”
Although bested by Pinturault for the second GS in a row, Hirscher still holds a 131-point advantage over Pinturault in the discipline standings and was able to gain another 20 points on Kristoffersen in the overall standings. It’s been a rather peculiar chase for the large crystal globe this season for Hirscher, as not only have injuries taken out some of his closest rivals, but Hirscher himself has had to deal with surging young talents, wayward drones, pilfered equipment, foggy goggles, and all manner of shenanigans not typical of a World Cup season.
“It’s crazy, so many things are going forward in alpine ski racing and if you are not working each day on your performance, you will lose on your confidence,” Hirscher explained. “In this season, so many weird things have happened already. A camera drone nearly hit me, so that was as well a really shocking moment, stolen skis was next, foggy goggles in Schladming. … It is not easy, but I have no idea what to change and I am always going to church, praying each day, I don’t know!”
Although Kristoffersen hasn’t enjoyed the same success in GS this season as he has in slalom, the young Norwegian should never be counted out on any GS hill in the world and looks forward to the next challenge in Slovenia. Although he has been nearly unstoppable in slalom, he admits that Hirscher just might be too strong to overtake in the overall standings.
“Two hundred and eighty points behind Marcel is a lot,” said Kristoffersen. “I have only five races left, and Marcel is unbelievably strong, even in super G. I think there is no chance. … But I don’t focus on the overall, I just focus on the next race. I look forward to Kranjska Gora. There is no long flat there, the course is steeper and I think it suits my skiing better. I’m ready and I’ll try to win races there.”
Unfortunately for the Americans, it was another tough day at the office as Tim Jitloff was the only finisher inside the top 30 in 23rd place, 4.01 seconds off of Pinturault. The American men haven’t quite found their groove in GS this season, but two more chances remain next weekend in Slovenia.
“Today, I knew I wanted to come out and put together a solid day,” explained a disappointed Jitloff. “The first run was a step in the right direction for that and then the second run, I think from the difficulties of the last two weeks and the effort that has gone into trying to get things right, I just felt very tired. This is an extremely long and turny course, soft snow, and I just didn’t have the energy in that second run and unfortunately was quite slow. I have two more races in Kranjska Gora. I’m going to take a rest here for a few days and before I go there we are going to try a few new new things just to try and get the energy back into it and hopefully I can reel this back in before the end of the season.”
The men’s tour now heads to Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, for two GS races and a slalom March 4-6.
By Hank McKee
- Pinturault, Head/Head/Head
- Hirscher, Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
- Kristoffersen, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
- Faivre, Head/Head/Head
- Fanara, Fischer/Fischer/Fischer
- Neureuther, Nordica/Nordica/Marker
- Janka, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
- Eisath, Blizzard/Tecnica/Marker
- Luitz, Rossignol/Rossignol/Rossignol
- Tonetti, Voelkl/Tecnica/Marker
- Men’s World Cup giant slalom, Hinterstoder, Austria, Feb. 28, 2016. … It is the 35th of 45 races on the men’s schedule and the eighth of 11 scheduled GSs. … It is the 16th World Cup race at Hinterstoder and the third of three this season.
- It is the 14th career World Cup win for Alexis Pinurault. … And his third straight GS win. … It is his fifth win of the season. … The winning margin is 1.14 seconds. … The top three are within two seconds.
- It is the 87th career World Cup podium for Marcel Hirscher. … His 15th of the season in 19 completed races.
- It is the 23rd career World Cup podium for Henrik Kristoffersen. … His tenth of the season.
- It is the fifth scoring finish of the season for Tim Jitloff.
- Hirscher maintains the lead of the World Cup overall standings 1365-1082 over Kristoffersen. … Aksel Lund Svindal (did not race) holds third with 916pts.
- Hirscher lead the GS standings 561-430 over Pinturault. … Kristoffersen is third with 351pts.
- Austria leads the men’s Nations Cup 4549-4341 over France. … Norway is third with 3915pts. … The U.S. is seventh at 1736 and Canada tenth at 524.
|Rank||Bib||Name||Year||Nation||Run 1||Run 2||Total Time||Diff.||FIS Points|
|12||9||HAUGEN Leif Kristian||1987||NOR||1:23.17||1:23.87||2:47.04||+3.16||18.90|
|15||24||DE ALIPRANDINI Luca||1990||ITA||1:23.25||1:24.12||2:47.37||+3.49||20.87|
|16||32||KILDE Aleksander Aamodt||1992||NOR||1:23.94||1:23.46||2:47.40||+3.52||21.05|
|Did not start 1st run|
|Did not qualify for 2nd run|
|73||SIMARI BIRKNER Cristian Javier||1980||ARG|
|51||PATRICKSSON Axel William||1992||NOR|
|Did not finish 2nd run|
|Did not finish 1st run|