Val d’Isere sits in the French alps not far from the Italian border. A charming mountain town, Marcel Hirscher called it the perfect valley for a ski holiday. With twinkling Christmas lights, ample snow and plenty of bars for apres ski activities, it’s not hard to understand why. While athletes may enjoy the town and all its diversions, the men’s race slope has a very different reputation.

The full-length “La Face De Bellevarde” course has a 410 meter vertical drop with an unrelenting series of break overs and terrain changes. It is the type of venue that no one feels good on. The hill had a 366 meter drop on Saturday because of the decision to lower the start due to high winds, but the shortened course did not make the men’s lives easier in the giant slalom race.

“It’s always a special place here to come back because I always skied very well here, but it’s not really fun to ski because it’s so difficult,” said second-place finisher Stefan Luitz of Germany. “You have not the best feeling, but in the end, when you stand on the podium, it’s worth it.”

The only person faster on the slope was Alexis Pinturault of France, who was not only performing in front of a home crowd, but also his parents, wife, and many other family members and friends. The Frenchman took his first win of the season and defended his victory from last year in style, but it was not without the challenges that the venue is known for.

“After a victory, you just can feel great,” he said. “It was really tough with the storm and with the visibility, but second run I would say was a little bit better,with the light and also with the conditions, so I tried to push really hard, and it looks like it was way better.”

Marcel Hirscher of Austria takes 3rd place during the men’s World Cup giant slalom in Val-d’Isere, France. // Image Credit: Alexis Boichard/Agence Zoom

Pinturault’s second run speed along with Hirscher’s huge second-run error allowed him to stand atop the podium. The Austrian, who won the first run, hooked his arm through a panel early in the course. He scrubbed speed and carried the flag with him for some time down the course. Hirscher ultimately ended up in third place.

When asked about what was going through his head at the moment it happened, he said he could not share because it was not safe for TV. Hirscher did, however, say that when something like that happens there is no choice, but to keep charging.

“You have only one choice,” he said. “Just go all out and put everything on 21 red or something like that, so pretty easy to make a decision.”

Hirscher continues to lead the giant slalom standings with 160 points, just 20 points ahead of Luitz, who seems to have found his rhythm this season.

“It feels amazing,” the German said. “Indescribable. It’s amazing to do two races, two podiums.”

This marked the sixth podium result of Luitz’s career and was a repeat performance of his first World Cup podium finish in 2012, which he earned at Val d’Isere. The German has never won a World Cup giant slalom, but is surely hoping to turn his current momentum into a victory.

Unfortunately, the slope got the best of the Americans. Ted Ligety lead the six-man squad, finishing in 16th place. It was an impressive result considering he was in 30th position after the first run.

“The second run was better,” the American shared. “It didn’t feel much better. It was faster at least, so that’s good. It’s just this place is brutal. It doesn’t feel good even when you win. It’s just a tough adjustment after skiing for a month on easy, nice grippy Colorado snow and then getting thrown off the plane right into this.”

Tim Jitloff, who is skiing independently this season after not being nominated to the 2017-18 national team, was the next fastest American in 20th place. Tommy Ford, who was 10th after the first run, finished the day in 22nd.

“It was nice to have three guys in the second run,” Ligety said. “Tommy skied really well first run. Looks like he must of hit a rock or something on his right footers because he had no grip second run–just on that side of his skiing. You know, that’s a bummer because he definitely has the skills to be in there. And good to see Jit in the second run, so that’s nice to have three guys in there.”

Ryan Cochran-Siegle and Hig Roberts were just outside the top 30 bubble in 33rd and 35th, respectively. World Cup veteran David Chodounsky did not finish the first run.

The men will take another crack at the slope on Sunday with a World Cup slalom race.


Top 10

  1. Alexis Pinturault (FRA) – Head / Head / Head
  2. Stefan Luitz (GER) – Rossignol / Look / Rossignol
  3. Marcel Hirscher (AUT) – Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
  4. Mathieu Faivre (FRA) –  Head / Head / Head
  5. Henrik Kristoffersen (NOR) – Rossignol / Look / Rossignol
  6. Alexander Schmid (GER) – Head / Head / Head
  7. Zan Kranjec (SLO) –  Rossignol / Look / Rossignol
  8. Manuel Feller (AUT) – Atomic/Atomic/Atomic
  9. Matts Olsson (SWE) – Head / Head / Head
  10. Thomas Fanara (FRA) – Fischer / Fischer / Fischer

Official Results

Rank Bib FIS Code Name Year Nation Run 1 Run 2 Total Time Diff. FIS Points WC Points
 1  5  194364 PINTURAULT Alexis 1991 FRA  56.86  54.32  1:51.18  0.00  100.00
 2  7  202437 LUITZ Stefan 1992 GER  56.84  54.62  1:51.46  +0.28  2.47  80.00
 3  3  53831 HIRSCHER Marcel 1989 AUT  56.74  54.98  1:51.72  +0.54  4.76  60.00
 4  4  194495 FAIVRE Mathieu 1992 FRA  57.12  54.84  1:51.96  +0.78  6.88  50.00
 5  2  422304 KRISTOFFERSEN Henrik 1994 NOR  57.05  55.03  1:52.08  +0.90  7.93  45.00
 6  40  202597 SCHMID Alexander 1994 GER  57.56  54.63  1:52.19  +1.01  8.90  40.00
 7  17  561244 KRANJEC Zan 1992 SLO  57.41  54.87  1:52.28  +1.10  9.70  36.00
 8  15  54063 FELLER Manuel 1992 AUT  57.94  54.90  1:52.84  +1.66  14.63  32.00
 9  1  501324 OLSSON Matts 1988 SWE  57.15  55.76  1:52.91  +1.73  15.25  29.00
 10  10  191750 FANARA Thomas 1981 FRA  58.25  54.89  1:53.14  +1.96  17.28  26.00
 11  14  511896 MURISIER Justin 1992 SUI  58.00  55.34  1:53.34  +2.16  19.04  24.00
 12  13  292967 EISATH Florian 1984 ITA  57.57  56.00  1:53.57  +2.39  21.07  22.00
 13  6  421669 NESTVOLD-HAUGEN Leif Kristian 1987 NOR  58.01  55.87  1:53.88  +2.70  23.80  20.00
 14  12  193967 MUFFAT-JEANDET Victor 1989 FRA  58.93  54.96  1:53.89  +2.71  23.89  18.00
 15  23  511852 CAVIEZEL Gino 1992 SUI  58.13  55.80  1:53.93  +2.75  24.24  16.00
 16  11  534562 LIGETY Ted 1984 USA  59.12  54.82  1:53.94  +2.76  24.33  15.00
 17  57  54320 SCHWARZ Marco 1995 AUT  59.05  54.91  1:53.96  +2.78  24.50  14.00
 18  36  990048 BORSOTTI Giovanni 1990 ITA  58.31  55.68  1:53.99  +2.81  24.77  13.00
 19  8  990116 DE ALIPRANDINI Luca 1990 ITA  58.14  56.07  1:54.21  +3.03  26.71  12.00
 20  30  534959 JITLOFF Tim 1985 USA  58.83  55.60  1:54.43  +3.25  28.65  11.00
 21  28  511741 ZURBRIGGEN Elia 1990 SUI  58.64  55.86  1:54.50  +3.32  29.26  10.00
 22  21  531799 FORD Tommy 1989 USA  57.63  56.93  1:54.56  +3.38  29.79  9.00
 23  27  294890 NANI Roberto 1988 ITA  59.04  55.55  1:54.59  +3.41  30.06  8.00
 24  16  292491 MOELGG Manfred 1982 ITA  58.12  56.50  1:54.62  +3.44  30.32  7.00
 25  59  54170 MATT Michael 1993 AUT  58.94  55.83  1:54.77  +3.59  31.64  6.00
 26  64  511983 AERNI Luca 1993 SUI  58.89  55.95  1:54.84  +3.66  32.26  5.00
 27  55  561322 HADALIN Stefan 1995 SLO  58.63  56.37  1:55.00  +3.82  33.67  4.00
 28  22  291318 TONETTI Riccardo 1989 ITA  58.53  56.76  1:55.29  +4.11  36.23  3.00
 29  19  380335 ZUBCIC Filip 1993 CRO  58.99  56.63  1:55.62  +4.44  39.14  2.00
 30  34  700830 ZAMPA Adam 1990 SVK  58.51  1:02.59  2:01.10  +9.92  87.44  0.00
Did not qualify for 2nd run
 70  54106 BREITFUSS KAMMERLANDER Simon 1992 BOL  1:03.33
 69  151215 FOREJTEK Filip 1997 CZE  1:02.15
 68  501992 GRAHN Dan Axel 1994 SWE  1:02.56
 67  302982 OHKOSHI Ryunosuke 1988 JPN  1:01.48
 62  491853 DEL CAMPO Juan 1994 ESP  1:03.20
 61  400237 MEINERS Maarten 1992 NED  1:02.31
 60  194262 BUFFET Robin 1991 FRA  1:00.74
 58  20398 VERDU Joan 1995 AND  59.49
 54  202451 STRASSER Linus 1992 GER  59.55
 50  290095 BALLERIN Andrea 1989 ITA  1:00.07
 49  512269 ODERMATT Marco 1997 SUI  59.55
 48  410365 BARWOOD Adam 1992 NZL  1:00.28
 46  53889 HIRSCHBUEHL Christian 1990 AUT  59.20
 45  6530319 COCHRAN-SIEGLE Ryan 1992 USA  59.25
 44  103676 BROWN Phil 1991 CAN  1:00.28
 43  934566 ROBERTS Hig 1991 USA  59.41
 42  700879 ZAMPA Andreas 1993 SVK  1:00.01
 39  410364 FEASEY Willis 1992 NZL  1:00.60
 33  180666 TORSTI Samu 1991 FIN  59.13
 31  481327 TRIKHICHEV Pavel 1992 RUS  1:00.31
 29  422073 NETELAND Bjoernar 1991 NOR  59.47
 25  103729 READ Erik 1991 CAN  59.29
Did not finish 1st run
 65  380363 KOLEGA Elias 1996 CRO
 56  150644 KRYZL Krystof 1986 CZE
 53  511899 ROCHAT Marc 1992 SUI
 52  481103 ANDRIENKO Aleksander 1990 RUS
 47  54027 BRENNSTEINER Stefan 1991 AUT
 41  422390 MONSEN Marcus 1995 NOR
 38  53985 MATHIS Marcel 1991 AUT
 37  54104 WALCH Magnus 1992 AUT
 35  422278 WINDINGSTAD Rasmus 1993 NOR
 32  103865 PHILP Trevor 1992 CAN
 26  534508 CHODOUNSKY David 1984 USA
 20  512182 MEILLARD Loic 1996 SUI
 18  501017 MYHRER Andre 1983 SWE
 9  54031 LEITINGER Roland 1991 AUT
Did not start 1st run
 66  550054 ZVEJNIEKS Kristaps 1992 LAT
 63  320266 JUNG Donghyun 1988 KOR
 51  202485 KETTERER David 1993 GER
 24  202462 DOPFER Fritz 1987 GER

 

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Gabbi Hall
Digital Content Editor
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A California native, Gabbi moved to Vermont to ski on the NCAA circuit for St. Michael’s College, where she served as team captain and studied journalism. Before joining Ski Racing, she worked as a broadcast TV producer and social media manager in higher education. She can be reached via email at gabbi@skiracing.com
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