Hirscher, Pinturault fight for victory in Alpine combined

SANTA CATERINA VALFURVA, Italy (AP) Already the best in a golden generation of French skiers, Alexis Pinturault has now matched French skiing royalty.

By winning an Alpine combined race on Thursday, Pinturault joined Jean-Claude Killy with a French record 18th World Cup victory.

Pinturault edged overall World Cup leader Marcel Hirscher of Austria by 0.34 seconds in the event, which combined the times from one super-G run and one slalom run.

Pinturault stood third behind Kilde and Hirscher after the super-G portion of the race and then had the fastest slalom run.

It was fitting that Pinturault matched Killy's record in a combined event, as Killy was also a master of multiple disciplines, sweeping gold medals in slalom, giant slalom and downhill at the 1968 Grenoble Olympics.

''In combined, usually you're strong in one discipline and you try to make your best in the second one,'' said Pinturault, who has now won three straight World Cup combined races. ''But today I think was my best combined ever, because I had my best place in the super-G and was also strong in slalom.''

Killy's World Cup wins came in 1967 and 1968 when he won the first two overall World Cup titles.

Hirscher's strong super-G performance was quite an improvement from a 47th-place finish two days ago in a traditional super-G.

''Finishing near 50 was a shocking moment. But yesterday I tested a bit and and went back to my old boots,'' Hirscher said. ''Today everything changed.''

Super-G leader Aleksander Aamodt Kilde finished third, 1.13 behind.

In the overall standings, Hirscher extended his lead to 231 points ahead of Kjetil Jansrud, who straddled a gate in his slalom run. Pinturault is third, 248 points behind.

''I knew Alexis was going for the win and I'm happy with the 80 points,'' said Hirscher, the reigning world champion in combined.

Justin Murisier of Switzerland finished fourth and Victor Muffat-Jeandet of France was fifth.

Americans Ryan Cochran-Siegle and Brennan Rubie finished 10th and 11th, respectively, to each record career-best results.

Italy's Christof Innerhofer straddled a gate within sight of the finish line and was reported to have injured his left calf.

Henrik Von Appen of Chile also had an ugly crash, tumbling over into the safety netting at high speed.

In all, 25 of the 70 racers entered did not finish their super-G runs on the dark and technical Deborah Compagnoni course.

The men's circuit resumes with a slalom in Zagreb, Croatia, on Jan. 5.

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Andrew Dampf on Twitter: www.twitter.com/asdampf

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