It couldn’t get better than this for Pinturault

Alexis Pinturault won the last Giant Slalom of the season in Lenzerheide in commanding fashion. In addition to that, he also won for the first time in his career both the Small and the Giant Crystal Globe — all that on his 30th birthday. It couldn’t get better than this for Pinturault.

Photo credits: Agence Zoom & Eurosport

By Daphne Seberich

The Giant Slalom season couldn’t have ended better for Alexis Pinturault. After many seasons of coming close to winning the Small and Giant Crystal Globes, the Frenchman was due to finally bring those titles home. Already after the first run, it was almost certain that the newly turned 30-year-old would triumph in his discipline in commanding fashion.

But the titles didn’t come easily. Only 25 points separated Alexis Pinturault and Marco Odermatt for the big Crystal Globe. On the day of his 30th birthday, the Frenchman had the big task to prove himself worthy of winning the Giant Slalom Crystal Globe, as well as the overall championship.     

“I was really tired after the World Championships and struggled the last few weeks,” said Pinturault after the race. “After Kranjska Gora, I was really frustrated. And Marco was getting really good results, so I felt the pressure. Today, it was clear what I had to do – I actually felt more pressure in Kranjksa than I did today”, the Frenchman told FIS. 

Closing off the podium were Filip Zubcic in second and Mathieu Faivre in third. Another Giant Slalom 1-3 for France after Bansko in February.

Photo credits: The Indian Paper

Lenzerheide was troubled by the weather conditions all weekend long. FIS even had to take the difficult decision to cancel the speed disciplines’ finals. A very controversial and potentially disruptive conclusion, as both Overall championships for men and women, were still undecided. 

It was especially tough for Lara Gut-Behrami, who had her two main disciplines races stripped away from her to earn the Giant Crystal Globe against Slovakian Petra Vlhova. The Swiss had the chance to take the title home for the second time after 2016, but the FIS decided to not reschedule the canceled races, as stated in the finals regulations. 

Photo credits: Tio.ch

With the blistering time of 1:01.19, Frenchman Pinturault hypothecated his win and potential titles already after his first run. No one could’ve come close to his achievement on the tricky Lenzerheide course. Zan Kranjec was suffering the difficulty of the Swiss slope, crossing the finish line 1.48 seconds behind Pinturault.

Marco Odermatt was in big trouble after his run. 1.66 seconds of delay only secured him the last spot in the rankings. He had a lot of catch-up to do to have a chance at the globe, but the Swiss is famous for his comebacks to the top positions. He never scored worse than fifth place during the whole Giant Slalom season. 

Filip Zubcic, who mathematically still had the chance at the Small Crystal Globe, was the best after Pinturault at the finish line, dethroning Kranjec from second place. The Bansko winner and Cortina 2021 World Champion Mathieu Faivre was not on his A-game. Over 1.53 seconds of delay towards his invincible teammate didn’t score him the best possible result ahead of the second run. 

Second in the last Giant Slalom of Kranjska Gora Loïc Meillard was the first athlete to exit the race prematurely. A hole on the course deviated his path and made him lose control over his skis. The not optimal conditions of the course debilitated the Swiss’ performance on home soil. 

Photo credits: Taiwan News, News Beezer, Agence Zoom, Rai Sport, LaPresse.ca and Taiwan News

Thibaut Favrot had the same mishap as Pinturault in the first Bansko race. He lost one of his poles mid-race and still managed to score third place with a 1:31 second of delay. The Cortina 2021 Giant Slalom silver medalist Luca De Aliprandini had his best performance in the World Cup season, managed to dethrone Favrot from provisional third place. 

The former holder of the small Giant Slalom Crystal Globe Henrik Kristoffersen was struggling to finish his run. He was the first athlete to do worse than Marco Odermatt. All descended athletes still had a chance at a podium, as the times were not much apart from each other. 

Stefan Brennsteiner was the surprise of the first run being the only one to get under the second of delay at the finish line. On the other hand, Marco Schwarz, troubled by back pain, couldn’t score a good result, placing provisionally last. 

Photo credits: Krone.at

The 2021 Junior World Champion Lukas Feurstein kicked off the second run after the inversion of twenty, setting the bar for the other competitors with a time of 1:14.96. Manuel Feller managed to beat the young Austrian’s time but wasn’t very satisfied by his result as it was just a slight improvement from the best time scored by Feurstein. Although his run was characterized by a major mistake at the end, Adam Zampa took over the lead of the race.

Giovanni Borsotti incremented his advantage intermediate by intermediate, crossing the finish line 1.39 seconds ahead of the provisional leader Zampa. Marco Schwarz dethroned the Italian by beating his time by only one-hundredth of a second. Soon after, German Stefan Luitz improved the Austrian’s best result by 34 hundredths. Henrik Kristoffersen then put the short leadership of Luitz to an end.

Marco Odermatt had to face the toughest challenge of his career to date: recover over 1.66 seconds against first-run leader Pinturault. He increased his advantage over Kristoffersen in the first section of the course, but the mellow part of the slope decreased his speed dramatically. The result of his run was not what he expected, finishing in third behind Kristoffersen and Luitz. Teammate Gino Caviezel then took over the lead with a seven-hundredths advantage over the Norwegian.

Photo credits: Archyde

Frenchman Mathieu Faivre blew it out of the park with his incredible performance of the second run. 79-hundredths allowed him to place provisionally in first. His teammate Favrot was just 59 hundredths behind him in second. De Aliprandini then dethroned the French to the runner-up position.

Filip Zubcic had the run of his career. He incremented his advantage over Faivre intermediate by intermediate. One hundredth at the finish line allowed him to take over the leadership of the race. 

Alexis Pinturault did what he had to do at the end of his run and became on his 30th birthday the winner of the race, the Giant Slalom Small Crystal Globe and the Overall Crystal Globe earner, the biggest achievement for a skier’s career. These achievements were a long time coming for the Frenchman, as his past seasons were mainly dominated by martian Marcel Hirscher. Last year, he had a shot at the Overall title as well, but the cancellation of the remaining races of the 2019/2020 season due to the ongoing pandemic cut his chances short. 

Photo credits: The Indian Paper

One race was still left for the 2020/2021 championships. Could Alexis Pinturault close his season off with another success?

12 days of dominance

Mathieu Faivre completely turned his season around after the 2021 Cortina FIS Alpine World Ski Championship wins, dominating the Giant Slalom discipline. In only twelve days, the Frenchman has won two out of three competitions, scoring a podium in all of them. 

Photo credits: The Indian Paper & Marco Tacca for AP Photo

By Daphne Seberich

Bansko day two. A perfect day with perfect weather saw the reigning Giant Slalom World Champion Mathieu Faivre annihilate his competition. The Bulgarian ski resort hosted an exciting race for the athletes and viewers at home, with the Top-10 battling it out for valuable FIS World Cup points. 

After finishing in second place in Saturday’s Giant Slalom, Mathieu Faivre earned his second victory in 12 days, topping Switzerland’s Marco Odermatt by 0.75 seconds. It was the Frenchman’s second career World Cup victory as he has put together the strongest three races of his career with three straight podiums, including the World Championship gold.

Thanks to his seventh World Cup podium of the season, 23-year-old Marco Odermatt made up some lost ground in the challenge for the Overall Crystal Globe, where Bansko’s third-placed athlete Alexis Pinturault commands. The Frenchman has a 210-point lead over the Swiss. 

Photo credits: FIS Alpine

Kicking things off in the first run, the Swiss Loïc Meillard set the bar for the other competitors with a time of 1:11.45. Zan Kranjec couldn’t keep up with the youngster, setting red intermediates throughout his leg. 44 hundredths of a second of delay from the provisional leader secured him second place after two athletes.

Cortina 2021 Giant Slalom World Champion Mathieu Faivre was always behind the time set by Meillard. Impressively, the Frenchman managed to recover six tenths in the lowest part of the piste, earning the provisional lead over the Swiss. Giant Slalom standings leader Alexis Pinturault disappointed, as opposed to his teammate Faivre, ending his run 79 hundredths of a second behind in third. 

Saturday’s Bansko winner Filip Zubcic, who’s only 22 points behind Giant Slalom standings leader Pinturault, had the worst possible run we could’ve imagined. At the start of the steepest part of the Bansko slope, the Croatian leaned too deep into one gate, falling with the body towards the snow. He still managed to stay inside of the course set by the Swedish ski national coach Ola Masdal, but his delay was over three seconds.

Photo credits: Narod.hr

Third-ranked in the Giant Slalom standings, Marco Odermatt had the same goal as Zubcic: beating Alexis Pinturault. The Bulgarian track, although, proved to be tough for the Crystal Globe contenders. Odermatt only managed to finish in fifth, 1.2 seconds behind the provisional leader Faivre. Frenchman’s teammate Thibaut Favrot then dethroned the Swiss after his run by being one-hundredth of a second ahead of Odermatt.

Marco Schwarz, who managed to earn the bronze medal in Giant Slalom at the 2021 Cortina D’Ampezzo FIS Alpine World Ski Championships, couldn’t perform as well as in the Italian competition. His red intermediates throughout his run ended in a 2.45 seconds delay over French leader Faivre. 

Speaking of Italian, Luca De Aliprandini, who won the silver medal in the technical discipline on home soil, was not performing as well as in the first Bansko race. 2.21 seconds of delay only secured a provisional Top-10 finish. 6th in Saturday’s Giant Slalom event Manuel Feller, just managed to squeeze between his teammate Schwarz and Filip Zubcic in 14th place. 3.07 seconds of disadvantage from the lead was a disappointing result for the “Wunderteam” skier. 

The surprise of the first Bansko competition Stefan Brennsteiner, who managed to score a podium for Austria in Giant Slalom for the first time after the Hirscher era, scored a Top-10 finish. 

Photo credits: FIS Alpine

Same Torsti, who was the bib number 48 wearer and managed to qualify for the inverted session, started the second leg as first. Alex Hofer, who scored a first Top-30 career finish, managed to earn the provisional lead from Finn Torsti by 51 hundredths. A struggling Victor Muffat-Jeandet had to be content with only second place after his run. 

Veteran Manfred Mölgg had his comeback, beating his South Tyrolean teammate Hofer by 63 hundredths of a second. Hannes Zingerle, who I interviewed in the Alta Badia race in December (click here for the full video interview), had a really strong performance. He managed to recover a two-tenths disadvantage to finish in first. A provisional 1-2-3 podium result for Italy, until Ivan Kuznetsov from Russia took over the lead of the race. 

Swiss Daniele Sette blew it out of the park, crossing the finish line with over 8 tenths of a second ahead of the Russian leader. But his biggest threat was Filip Zubcic, who was set to make a strong recovery to score a Top-10 finish. The goal was to reach ninth place to not lose out on too many points for the Giant Slalom Crystal Globe contention. Unfortunately, Zubcic made a very costly mistake in the final part of the slope that prevented his comeback. His performance was only good enough for second place. 

Photo credits: Daniele Sette

The Swiss provisional leader Sette recovered over eight positions in the second run, a remembrance of Stefan Hadalin’s performance on Saturday. He beat successful athletes like Filip Zubcic, Manuel Feller and Stefan Luitz. His leadership came to an end, as Marco Schwarz crossed the finish line 4 hundredths ahead of Sette’s best time. 

Even though Gino Caviezel suffered from a critical mistake in the top part of the course, the Swiss was setting green intermediates throughout his run. The last section of the piste was unfortunately not fast enough to dethrone the Austrian provisional leader. Similar problems occurred to Luca De Aliprandini, who was set to take over the leadership, but too many mistakes prevented him to do so. He finished his run in ex aequo with Caviezel in third. 

Photo credits: Hola News & NeveItalia

Henrik Kristoffersen managed to end his attempt one-tenth ahead of Schwarz, but Austrian teammate Stefan Brennsteiner set the perfect run, serving over one second to the Norwegian superstar. His impressive Bansko weekend proved to be the “Wunderteam” athlete’s revelation. Even Alta Badia podium scorer Justin Murisier couldn’t keep up with Brennsteiner’s performance. 

Marco Odermatt, who never finished worse than fifth this season in Giant Slalom, didn’t disappoint. 39 hundredths earned him the honor to sit on Audi’s red leader chair. The goal was to recover 4 tenths over Alexis Pinturault, who was third after the first run. He came very close to that result. Favrot and Kranjec couldn’t beat Odermatt’s performance, securing a Top-4 outcome ahead of the Giant Slalom standings leader. 

Alexis Pinturault had to be ahead of the Swiss to secure his position in the rankings. His run was mind-blowing, as he seemed to almost lose both his poles like in the first Bansko event. Unfortunately for the Frenchman, the performance was only good for second place, 0.09 seconds behind the Swiss leader. 

Video credits: FIS & Infront Sports & Media AG

With over 1.2 seconds of advantage over the provisional leader Odermatt, Mathieu Faivre had an easy task and he never gave the impression of any possibility of losing the race. 0.75 seconds at the finish line secured him the win. In only two days, Faivre scored 180 points valid for the standings. 

Video credits: FIS & Infront Sports & Media AG

The rankings are extremely close when it comes to the Giant Slalom Crystal Globe. The same two men of the Overall standings are battling it out with only 25 points between them. Trailing behind is Bansko’s Saturday event winner Filip Zubcic with a 64-point deficit from the top of the leaderboard.

The Giant Slalom athletes will have one last chance at victory in Kranjska Gora before the finals taking place in Lenzerheide from March 15th-21st. Who will have the upper hand in this three-way battle to the top? 

Photo credits: Samuel Truempy for PHOTOPRESS

Sweet, sweet redemption.

Filip Zubcic proved to be superior to everyone in Bansko as the World Cup events restarted. After missing out on a championships medal, the Croatian had his sweet redemption on the Bulgarian slope.

Photo credits: Sportschau & GEPA

By Daphne Seberich

As the 2021 Cortina FIS Alpine World Ski Championships came to an end, the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup restarted for the men involved in Giant Slalom events. This time, the competitions moved to Bansko, Bulgaria, where the tricky snow conditions ensured a fun and entertaining racing spectacle for the viewers at home.

Only one could arise victorious in Bansko, and it was Filip Zubcic. The Croatian Giant Slalom superstar, who barely missed out on a medal in the Italian World Championships, placing in fourth, came back stronger than ever to secure the second victory of the season. We can also not forget to mention the astonishing record he has set. Filip Zubcic missed out on a Giant Slalom podium only three times in eleven races. 

Photo credits: FIS

The victory came down to the wire in the second run, but Mathieu Faivre can consider itself happy with second place. The Frenchman, who was crowned Giant Slalom World Champion in Cortina, has found the perfect balance. His victory has boosted his confidence. Faivre had only scored 96 points in six races before Cortina, whereas now his record states 180 in two events. A massive improvement in only three weeks. 

Completing the podium was a surprise “Wunderteam” member, Stefan Brennsteiner, who earned his first World Cup podium in his career. After the Hirscher era, no Austrian came close to winning in Giant Slalom. Today’s revelation might be the future for the Austrian ski team.  

Photo credits: SciareMag & Österreichischer Skiverband

Kicking-off the inversed leg, Italian skier from Bolzano Riccardo Tonetti finished in the Top-30 after the first run. A total time of 2:24.19 was the bar the other competitors had to beat. Unfortunately, Tonetti’s performance was penalized by one substantial mistake that was very costly for the overall performance. Filippo Della Vite’s first appearance in the élite 30 of any World Cup event, ended in success. He had previously entered only four races.84 hundredths of a second separated him from his teammate Tonetti.

South Tyrolean skier Hannes Zingerle, who I had the pleasure to interview in the Alta Badia Giant Slalom race back in December (click here for the video interview), was happy to start in the second run. His performance was, although, not perfect. It was enough to dethrone teammate Tonetti from the podium in third. Soon after, Mattias Rönngren took over Zingerle’s position in the rankings. 

After recovering three positions, Filippo Della Vite had to surrender the provisional leadership of the race to Slovenian Stefan Hadalin, who crossed the finish line 76 hundredths ahead of the Italian. Hadalin recovered over eight positions, beating athletes like Victor Muffat-Jeandet, Stefan Luitz and Gino Caviezel.

Photo credits: Race Ski Magazine

The silver medalist of the Cortina 2021 Giant Slalom World Championships Luca De Aliprandini, who finished 15th after the first run, was losing his advantage over Hadalin intermediate by intermediate. Youngster Della Vite officially became the best-ranked Italian of the competition. De Aliprandini ended his attempt behind his rookie teammate.

Hadalin’s comeback continued as his position recovery increased to ten. Only Thibaut Favrot managed to end the Slovenian march towards the Top-10, completing his run two tenths ahead of the provisional leader. Swiss athlete Justin Murisier, who placed third in the Alta Badia Giant Slalom, crossed the finish line in the same position as in the Italian competition. Slalom Champion Marco Schwarz then replaced the Swiss on the lowest step of the podium. 

“Wunderteam” athlete Manuel Feller took over the provisional lead of the race, beating Favrot’s time by 14 hundredths of a second. Loïc Meillard, who never finished outside the Top-6, had only a small advantage over the Austrian. Unfortunately, the last part of the piste proved to be time costly for the Swiss, ending his run in third behind Favrot.

Photo credits: NeveItalia & RSI

Young rising star Marco Odermatt, who was always a risk-taker, proved that his skiing style pays off. His intermediate’s incremented drastically in a positive way recovering over 7 tenths in the second part of the course. Crossing the finish line only 11 hundredths of a second ahead of Feller secured Odermatt the leadership of the race. 

Austrian Stefan Brennsteiner was the biggest surprise of the competition. Placing fifth the first run was already an impressive accomplishment by the Austrian, but serving over 59 hundredths to Odermatt was the revelation of the day. Henrik Kristoffersen completely missed the target of getting on the podium, incredibly ending in 17th place behind Italian Della Vite, who recovered twelve positions. 

Overall standings leader Alexis Pinturault, who was going for a fourth consecutive win in Giant Slalom, had the most insane leg ever. Not even after a quarter of the run, the French superstar lost his right pole and had to continue his performance with a substantial handicap. Considering this, Pinturault ending in second place behind Brennsteiner was an outstanding performance. 

Video rights: FIS & Infront Sports & Media AG

Filip Zubcic, who I interviewed in Alta Badia as well (click here for the video interview), was on his A-game. His run was flawless and extremely fast. The already green intermediates increased section by section. Finishing his run 93 hundredths of a second ahead of Brennsteiner was a statement. He was not there to play. Provisional first-run leader Faivre had a tough task ahead of his second attempt and had to deal with a lot of pressure.

Cortina 2021 Giant Slalom World Champion Mathieu Faivre was keeping up with Zubcic’s time, but the Croatian just had another pace. The newly crowned World Champion managed to earn a podium position but couldn’t beat the incredible Zubcic. Faivre squeezed between the leader and Brennsteiner to complete the podium.

Zubcic won for the third time in his career after Santa Caterina Valfurva in December and Niigata Yuzawa Naeba in February 2020. His victory also closed the gap to Giant Slalom standings leader Pinturault, who has now only a 22-points lead over the Croatian star. The competitions are not over for the weekend, as Bansko will host a second event on Sunday. Will Zubcic aim for back-to-back victories?

Photo credits: Rai Sport

Fresh Air Podcast – Episode 4: “It’s all about the speed”

Welcome to Fresh Air, the show that takes you from the snowy peaks of the Alps to the sunny shores of Bondi beach.

From the first A,B,C of how to ski to the X, Y, Z to the climbing on the edge. Our podcast is all about introducing you to outdoor sports.

In our fourth episode, we’ll discover everything about a very popular sport, alpine skiing, uncover everything about this amazing sport and its different disciplines, we’ll talk about what happened at the 2021 Cortina D’Ampezzo FIS Alpine World Ski Championships, we’ll take it to the streets, learning about some experiences with the sport, we’ll introduce a brand new section of our show called travel tips and lastly, we have a very special interview that you don’t wanna miss. We’re keeping you on your toes this time.

It’s gonna be a high altitude, high octane and a hell of a ride. You can’t be stopped.

Join us, and come and get a breath of Fresh Air.

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