France's Pinturault warms up for Olympics with seventh combined win

Bormio (Italy) (AFP) –


France's Alexis Pinturault swept to a seventh World Cup combined win in Bormio on Friday claiming a 21st career victory weeks ahead of his gold medal challenge at the Winter Olympics.

The 26-year-old timed 2min 41.13sec overall after the downhill and slalom runs to finish 0.42sec ahead of Italy's Peter Fill with Norway's Kjetil Jansrud third at 0.45.

Pinturault had been just 1.65sec behind Italian leader Dominik Paris after the morning's downhill run on the Stelvio piste in the Italian Alpine resort, and sealed victory with his slalom.

"I won today probably because of my downhill performance," said Pinturault, who won the giant slalom at Val d'Isere two weeks ago.

"It was difficult for me to make a huge difference in the slalom. It's really tricky, you have to push yourself to the limits, just one mistake and you're out."

Paris -- winner of Thursday's downhill -- missed a gate towards the end of the slalom run to end his bid for a double podium finish at his home race.

But compatriot Fill gave the Italian men's team just their second podium of the season.

"I had trained very little in slalom, I also made two mistakes, when I saw that I was second it didn't seem real," said Fill.

Olympic downhill champion Matthias Mayer of Austria dropped to sixth overall after placing second in the downhill run.

"Pinturault was always going to be the man to beat," said Jansrud, who also took third in Thursday's downhill.

"He's a better downhill skier than people expect him to be and also an extremely good slalom skier which makes it a dangerous combination.

"He's also a confident Super G skier, very impressive," added the three-time Olympic medallist.

- 'Evolution' -

Pinturault -- who achieved a 14th consecutive podium finish for France going back to 2012 -- now just has another combined event to compete in Wengen, Switzerland on January 12 before the Pyeongchang Olympics which start on February 9.

The Bormio race was the first of the two combined events per season but it could also be the penultimate of World Cup history.

Governing body the FIS are considering scrapping the event and replacing it with a parallel race, with combined just at the world championships and the Olympics.

"I can't say I will regret it, but can't say I'm happy either," said Pinturault, who is fifth in the overall standings behind Austrian Marcel Hirscher who did not compete.

"It's life, it's evolution. I like the combined, it's the only race where we're competing against donwhillers. But of course if people don't really like it, maybe it makes more sense not to continue.

"I like the team event and parallel. It looks like it's improving and improving in a good way."