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?

The ultimate speed machine

Lara Gut-Behrami can’t stop and won’t stop winning. The ultimate speed machine scored back-to-back wins in Val di Fassa, securing her lead at the top of the Overall standings. 

Photo credits: Eurosport & Alessandro Trovati for AP Photo

By Daphne Seberich

Another day, another victory for Lara Gut-Behrami. The Swiss speed athlete dominated the second Downhill race in Val di Fassa, Italy. The Passo San Pellegrino course, which hosted the 2019 FIS Alpine Junior World Championships, was a replacement for the Olympic Test events in Beijing, which were canceled due to the pandemic.

Back-to-back wins seem to be the “Gut-way” of doing things. She’s completely commanding the Super G standings, with four events out of five won in a row, not to mention her incredible World Championships gold medal in Cortina. Can she recover and conquer the Downhill Crystal Globe as well?

Photo credits: GEPA

Resilient teammate Corinne Suter managed to score a back-to-back podium result, although improving the position. On Friday’s race, the Swiss speedster earned third place. This time, she was just behind unbeatable Gut-Behrami in second, 32 hundredths off the pace. The reigning Downhill World Champion probably expected a victory from this speed weekend but can still consider herself pleased with the results. 

Concluding the top-three, Kira Weidle stood on the lowest step of the podium for the third time in her World Cup career. The German Cortina Downhill silver medalist seemed to be in her best physical condition after her breakthrough on the Olympia Delle Tofane course. 

Photo credits: FIS Alpine

To kick the race off, Elena Curtoni set the time to beat at 1:26.54. Three seconds slower than the winner’s time the day before. Jasmine Flury didn’t have a hard time beating the Italian’s performance. She took over the provisional lead of the race.

Breezy Johnson needed a podium result to still have a chance at the Downhill small Crystal Globe. A too pronounced lean towards a gate on the steepest part of the slope provoked her crashing into the barriers. A mistake that proved to be fatal for Johnson’s standings. 

The Swiss Giant Slalom specialist Michelle Gisin seemed to be ahead of teammate Flury throughout her run, posting green intermediates. Only one-hundredth of a second of advantage aided her to dethrone the provisional leader. 

2021 Downhill World Champion Corinne Suter blew it out of the park, serving her teammates Gisin and Flury over 49 and 50 hundredths of advantage. After five racers, the competition saw an all-Swiss podium, but Kajsa Vickhoff Lie ended the streak by placing behind Suter in second.

Photo credits: Twitter

Friday’s Val di Fassa winner Lara Gut Behrami was just on another planet. Her advantage over provisional leader Suter increased intermediate by intermediate. The quality of her skiing was just unlike any other. Only injured Sofia Goggia could have attempted to beat the Swiss speed specialist.  

Cortina Downhill Silver medalist Kira Weidle was skiing a clean racing line, but a little bit more aggressiveness was necessary on the Passo San Pellegrino slope. The German managed to recover over three tenths in the final part of the piste, earning a place on the lowest step of the podium.

Photo credits: Hersfelder Zeitung

After the tenth racer, Federica Brignone, the standings were in favor of the Swiss, with all of their athletes placed in the Top-6. The Italians were the worst team on home soil, being respectively all in the last three positions of the rankings.

Val di Fassa runner-up Ramona Siebenhofer attempted back-to-back podium positions. She came short of third place, losing out on Weidle’s position by eight-hundredths of a second. 

The best Italian on home soil in Friday’s race, Laura Pirovano, proved to be Italy’s only hope for a good result, placing fifth in ex aequo with Norwegian Lie.

Petra Vlhova, who sees in Gut-Behrami the biggest competition and threat for the Overall Crystal Globe, tried to score a Top-10 finish as an attempt to not losing out on too many points against the Swiss. A 1.29 seconds delay was unfortunately not enough for a good result.

Photo credits: Sportnet – SME & Olympic Channel

107 points now separate the two contenders, with Gut-Behrami in the lead. Can Vlhova turn the tables around in Jasna, where two technical events (her specialties) will be held? And can Gut-Behrami go home at the end of the season with three Crystal Globes (Downhill, Super G & Overall)? The injured Sofia Goggia has now only a 97-points lead over the Val di Fassa winner and 80 over World Champion Suter. The ultimate showdown will be in Lenzerheide, where the big finals of this Alpine Skiing 2020/2021 season will take place from March 15th-21st. 

Photo credits: Samuel Truempy for PHOTOPRESS