Pinturault poised for combined defence as rivals lurk

Cortina d'Ampezzo (Italy) (AFP) –


Alexis Pinturault set himself up perfectly for the defence of his world alpine combined title after setting the second fastest time in the event's opening super-G on Monday.

The Frenchman, who won a surprise bronze in last week's super-G proper, clocked 1min 20.03sec in brilliant sunshine in Cortina d'Ampezzo, 0.08sec off Canadian speed specialist James Crawford who took a shock lead from bib number 32.

"That was a great super-G, I tried to attack," said Pinturault. "I took a good bib number, number five, I was first to choose.

"It was a good run by myself, now there's the slalom, which will be tight no matter what."

A host of rivals to the combined throne positioned themselves within hitting range of Pinturault, prepped to seize on the slightest error in the slalom, scheduled for 1420 GMT.

They included 2017 world champion Luca Aerni of Switzerland, in seventh at 0.53sec, his teammate Loic Meillard (+0.43) and 2019 bronze medallist Marco Schwarz of Austria (+0.40).

Austria's Vincent Kriechmayr, who won both the super-G and downhill in Cortina for a first speed double since 2005, was third fastest, just 0.30sec off the pace, with teammate Matthias Mayer in fourth (+0.32).