Pinturault wins Hinterstoder giant slalom, takes World Cup lead

Hinterstoder (Austria) (AFP) –


Frenchman Alexis Pinturault dominated Monday's giant slalom at Hinterstoder, blitzing the field at the Austrian resort to take over top spot in the race for the overall World Cup title.

Pinturault, the winner of Sunday's alpine combined at Hinterstoder, put himself in prime position with a blistering first run that left him with a near one-second cushion.

He sealed victory over Croatia's Filip Zubcic by 0.45sec despite the worsening snow conditions in mild temperatures and bright sunshine.

"I think just like the other days it was important to do a good first run because the course was deteriorating a lot," said Pinturault.

"I saw on the second leg it was a real struggle. I had to ski at full tilt otherwise you can go out at any moment in these conditions."

It was his 29th triumph on the World Cup circuit and one that pushed him above Norway's Aleksander Aamodt Kilde atop the overall standings.

Pinturault now has 1,148 points, 26 more than speed specialist Kilde who finished a respectable sixth to stay firmly in the hunt for the crystal globe.

Henrik Kristoffersen finished third (+0.72) and remains third overall, 107 points adrift of Pinturault who is attempting to become France's first overall World Cup champion since Luc Alphand in 1997.

The World Cup heads to the Norwegian resort of Kvitfjell (downhill, super-G) this weekend, and there remains in the calendar a trip to Kranjska Gora in Slovenia (giant slalom, slalom) and then the March 18-22 season-ending finals in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy.

"Kvitfjell, that's home for the Norwegians and if Kilde wins both races he is immediately back out in front again," said Pinturault.

"It's going to be a huge free-for-all. Henrik is still in the fight. Everything is up for grabs."

Officials have already ruled that the finals in Cortina, which lies in the Veneto region badly affected by the coronavirus outbreak that has killed 34 people and infected more than 1,600 in Italy, be held without any fans over health concerns.