Eyeing 2nd straight win, Pinturault leads GS after 1st run
HINTERSTODER, Austria (AP) Alexis Pinturault dominated a men's World Cup giant slalom on Friday, becoming the first skier from France in 47 years to win two straight races in the discipline.
Leading the field by more than a half-second after the opening leg, the Olympic bronze medalist finished 0.79 ahead of Marcel Hirscher of Austria for his 13th career win and fourth in GS.
''Today it was a big day for me,'' Pinturault said.
The Frenchman also won in Yuzawa Naeba, Japan, two weeks ago and matched the feat of Jean Noel Augert, who in 1969 was the last Frenchman to win back-to-back GS races.
Another Frenchman, Thomas Fanara, came 0.92 back in third, and Henrik Kristoffersen of Norway was fourth, 1.32 behind.
Pinturault lost time with a big mistake in each run but he recovered both times as his speed on the bottom part was unmatched by his rivals.
In the final run, Pinturault hurt himself as he hooked a gate. He nearly lost all of his then 1.31-second lead over Hirscher but accelerated again before the finish.
''It's painful,'' said Pinturault, pointing at his hip. ''We'll try to fix it tonight.''
Pinturault said he got back to his best in January after a slow start to the season because he injured his head in GS in early December. He has won four races in the last five weeks, including combined events in Kitzbuehel in January and Chamonix last week.
''The biggest problem was my crash in Beaver Creek,'' he said. ''When you get a concussion, even if it's a small one, it's hard to come back.''
Despite his two straight wins, Pinturault didn't regard himself as a contender for the GS title this season. He still trails Hirscher, who won three times, by 151 points.
Hirscher also extended his lead in the overall World Cup standings, going 203 points ahead of Kristoffersen.
''It's definitely very positive,'' said the Austrian, who is seeking his fifth straight overall championship.
Hirscher was fourth after the opening run but improved after switching skis and posting the second-fastest time with a risky effort in the second run.
''I had to go over the limit. I'm incredibly satisfied with this second place,'' he said.
Luca De Aliprandini of Italy had the fastest time in the second run to climb from 26th to seventh, while Stefan Luitz of Germany, who was runner-up after the first leg, dropped to fifth, 1.51 off the pace.
The race was the first of four giant slaloms in 10 days as canceled races from Adelboden and Garmisch-Partenkirchen have been rescheduled for Hinterstoder and Kranjska Gora next week.
A super-G on the same course is planned for Saturday, followed by another GS on Sunday.