Pinturault crushes field for Val d'Isere slalom victory
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Val-d'Isère (France) (AFP)
Home favourite Alexis Pinturault crushed the field to notch a comprehensive victory in the men's World Cup slalom in Val d'Isere on Sunday.
Pinturault, first out of the gate, led after what he called a "demanding" first run and held his nerve in the second run in sunny, cold conditions for his first World cup slalom win since 2014.
The 28-year-old clocked a combined time of 1min 47.91sec, a massive 1.44sec ahead of Sweden's Andre Myhrer, Italian Stefano Gross (+1.47) rounding out the podium.
Pinturault said he had to learn from his mistakes after failing to qualify for the second leg in the season opener in the Finnish resort of Levi in November.
"Only idiots don't learn," the Frenchman said. "I must draw conclusions from it.
"I made some mistakes at the start of the season, but I did some good things as well. I just have to be more regular, less of the rollercoaster as I've been doing up until now."
In the absence of now-retired Austrian legend Marcel Hirscher, Pinturault acknowledged the World Cup was "of course, more open".
"The important thing is to ski fast," he said, adding he had refocused on the slalom in training.
"I had tough seasons in 2016 and 2017 and even 2018... Last season we spent an enormous amount of time working on the slalom, we had to do it over and over again."
Pinturault's fancied teammate Clement Noel was one of a number of skiers who bombed out in the first run, while Norway's Henrik Kristoffersen was left with a huge task after finishing 27th, almost three seconds off Pinturault's blistering early pace.
American Luke Winters ripped up the form book by finishing second in the first leg, at 0.59sec, having started with a rank outsider's bib number of 40. Swiss Ramon Zenhaeusern was third, at 0.72sec.
It was Kristoffersen who produced the fastest second run, of 53.72sec, enabling the Norwegian to hold the lead until the ninth fastest from the first leg came down.
Gross grabbed first place before Myhrer topped him, Zenhaeusern crashing out high up the course.
There was no dream podium spot for Winters, competing in the second run of a slalom for the first time. The 22-year-old made a couple of errors and finished 19th in a race that was rescheduled to Sunday after strong winds saw it called off on Saturday.
© 2019 AFP