February 19, 2016

CHAMONIX, France (AP) Alexis Pinturault of France protected his lead from the morning slalom in the afternoon's downhill to win an Alpine combined race and clinch the overall combined title as rival Kjetil Jansrud's bid crumbled on Friday.

It was the 12th race win of Pinturault's career, and his first title in any discipline, although he would go on to admit that he benefited from a shortened downhill section amid deteriorating weather conditions in the French Alps.

''There was quite a lot of pressure, because I was leading from the first leg,'' Pinturault said. ''I knew that anything was possible, but I had to do an amazing downhill because my lead wasn't big enough on the downhill specialists. I just had to take risks and try to attack.''

He was level on points with Jansrud in the combined standings before this race - after they each won one race and placed 13th in the other. But the Norwegian downhill specialist placed fifth in the race to drop to third in the combined standings.

''The combined globe (title) is easier to win than the giant slalom, slalom, downhill or super-G, because there is less races,'' Pinturault said. ''But there's still a lot of competition and the standard was higher this year.''

Italian Dominik Paris finished 0.27 seconds behind Pinturault to take second place in the race, followed by French pair Thomas Mermillod-Blondin and Victor Muffat-Jeandet.

The French just missed another sweep in combined after a 1-2-3 in Kitzbuehel, Austria, last month. But Mermillod-Blondin leapfrogged Jansrud to finish runner-up to Pinturault in the combined standings.

The downhill was delayed for more than an hour because of poor visibility and by the time they started it was nearly 3:20 p.m.

Given that Pinturault's career best downhill finish was 16th, the advantage seemed to be with Jansrud, who has 12 World Cup downhill podiums and won the Olympic downhill bronze medal in Sochi.

But the bad conditions led to the downhill being shortened, and this helped Pinturault as Jansrud could not generate enough speed to claw back the deficit of 1.67 seconds from the slalom.

''If a few gates are removed in downhill, it's normally beneficial for me,'' Pinturault said. ''Even if it was a bit short, it's probably the best (downhill) since the start of my career.''

In the morning's slalom, Pinturault won, followed by Mermillod Blondin, and Muffat-Jeandet. Jansrud was ninth.

Still, Pinturault was unhappy with the difficulty level of the La Verte des Houches course at the ski resort of Chamonix on Mont Blanc.

''It's sad to say. When you're no longer doing a slalom but racing in straight lines, you have to ask questions,'' he said. ''Even though I was angry - and with good reason - I stayed focused on what I needed to do.''

The slalom was initially scheduled for the afternoon, but the runs were reversed because of the tough conditions.

Italian Peter Fill set the early pace in the downhill, followed by Norwegian Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, Frenchman Adrien Theaux, and then Jansrud.

But that was as good as it got for the burly Norwegian, who has won three races this season.

He gets back to defending his overall titles in downhill and super-G, and clawed some points back on defending World Cup champion and current leader Marcel Hirscher in the standings, climbing up to fourth.

There is a downhill on Saturday, where Steven Nyman of the U.S. aims for his second podium this season after placing third in the downhill at the South Korean resort of Jeongseon two weeks ago.

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