Pinturault pushes through pain for Bormio combined win
Bormio (Italy) (AFP)
France's Alexis Pinturault pushed through the pain of a thigh injury to snatch victory in the first men's alpine skiing World Cup combined event of the season in Bormio on Sunday.
Local hero Dominik Paris was denied a hat-trick of wins this weekend, as an error on his slalom run left the Italian trailing seven-minutes behind the world combined champion.
Pinturault had placed 12th in the morning's super-G run, but sealed his third win of the season after the slalom run down the icy 'Stelvio' piste in the Italian Alps.
Norway's Aleksander Aamodt Kilde had led in the super-G, but settled for second, 0.51sec behind, to take the overall World Cup lead, with Swiss Loic Meillard third at 0.56.
"I wasn't sure of coming here to Bormio, I was injured," explained the 28-year-old French skier, who hurt himself in Alta Badia last time out.
"It was really not easy without training, with only yesterday on skis after my small injury.
"It was a difficult day especially with the super-G, the slalom's not easy against the downhillers.
"Here in Bormio, it's a really long flat. I told myself I have no choice but to attack as much as possible and see what happens."
- 'Really difficult' -
Paris had claimed back-to-back downhill wins on Friday and Saturday, extending his winning streak on his home course in the Italian Alps to four consecutive races.
The 30-year-old was just 0.03sec behind Kilde after the Super-G run, but lost his rhythm in the slalom and finished way back in 26th position.
The combined event has been revamped with the best skiers from the super-G starting first in the slalom, reversing the usual order with the aim of favouring the speed specialists.
The new format had mixed reaction from the skiers, as it favours the downhill races.
"They have to just ski well in the super-G and then they will start in the first group in the slalom, it makes a really huge difference," said Pinturault.
"We didn't see any slalom guys coming from the back to come close to the podium today. It shows it's going to be really difficult for us."
This season Pinturault has also won the giant slalom in Soelden, Austria and the slalom at home in Val d'Isere, bringing his tally to 26 World Cup career wins, the most by an active skier.
"For speed skier it's pretty good," agreed Kilde, "but for the people at home watching it's a pity because the race is over pretty fast.
"It would be fun if we could make it maybe a shorter super-G and slalom so it's easier for the slalomers to ski in the super-G."
- 'War zone' -
Twenty competitors failed to finish the race with the super-G interrupted after Austria's Christopher Neumayer crashed off the course and was airlifted off the piste by helicopter, like teammate Hannes Reichelt in Saturday's downhill.
"Going into Bormio is going into war, definitely one of the coldest slopes," said Kilde, who finished fourth in both downhills this weekend.
"But it's a lot of fun skiing, really challenging with the icy conditions, lots of turns, you can feel the legs burning."
Kilde takes the overall World Cup lead with a 20-point advantage on second-placed Paris with Pinturault moving third 73 points behind the Norwegian.
Pinturault finished second last season behind now retired Austrian great Marcel Hirscher.
"Leading the overall is unbelievable, such a dream since I was young that was my biggest goal," said Kilde, who has never finished better than seventh in overall standings.
"Of course there's a lot of races left, for sure it's not going to be a walk in the park as Marcel Hirscher would say."
Pinturault's next race is the World Cup slalom in Zagreb on January 5.
"It will be really important for me to rest now especially after the stress from my leg and try to fix this adductor problem and then have one or two days off," he added.
© 2019 AFP