Persistent and heavy snowfall started early this morning and went on through the day. The “Criterium de la Première Neige” in Val d’Isère is aptly named ideed. However, this didn’t prevent the best slalom skiers to tackle the famous “Face de Bellevarde” and showcase their talent.
In the first run, Italy’s Stefano Gross clocked the fastest time. The Adelboden winner of 2015 claimed two podiums last season, bringing his career record to 11 podiums. But as in Kranjska Gora, he wasn’t able to use this important advantage to claim his second World Cup victory.
Today’s World Cup win came from the athlete ranked 8th after the first leg, the impressive Marcel Hirscher. The Austrian superstar, who already finished 3rd of the giant slalom yesterday, pushed hard in the second run and none of the eight contenders coming after him were able to beat him.
Norways’ Henrik Kirstoffersen, who won the two previous editions in the slalom of Val d’Isère, also moved up from his first run performance (5th place) to earn a 24th podium in slalom.
In third place, André Myhrer was able to take the 20th slalom podium in his career. The Swede has won the slalom of the World Cup finals in the two previous years, but somehow struggled to find his rhythm between those events.This slalom concluded the men’s races in Val d’Isère.
The ladies will take over the hill with speed races on “La Daille” and the men will move to Italy to start compete in Val Gardena on 15th and 16th December.
Swiss dominate St. Moritz SG, AC to be added on Sunday
Teammates Jasmine Flury and Michelle Gisin took advantage of unpredictable conditions during Saturday’s super-G at St. Moritz to give the Swiss crowd a home victory and second-place finish, respectively. Tina Weirather of Liechtenstein, who trains with the Swiss team, skied into third place, effectively producing a Swiss team sweep of the podium.
Wind gusts on the hill created natural challenges for racers without compromising the safety of the event. Several course holds ensued during times of stronger gusts, but ultimately the race was run to completion. Although fifth last weekend in the Lake Louise super-G, Flury had yet to stand on a World Cup podium before her victory on the day. Gisin also secured her first super-G podium finish despite skiing to a third-place finish in the Lake Louise downhill exactly one week earlier. The discipline standings leader, Weirather, maintained her position over the rest of the field with another consistent podium finish.
A Swiss pre-race favorite, Lara Gut crashed into the safety netting on the slope but was able to ski down on her own and hopes to race again on Sunday. Lindsey Vonn reportedly suffered a back injury mid-run but finished the race before collapsing in the finish area. She left the venue walking very cautiously and is currently on the start list for Sunday’s super-G.
In a reversal of events from the previous day, the race organizer together with the National Ski Association Swiss Ski announced that they found a financial solution to the problem that prevented them from replacing the alpine combined race cancelled on Friday. Sunday’s program includes a standalone super-G race beginning at 10:30 CET that will also be used in conjunction with a slalom run at 13:30 CET to score the alpine combined race.
Pinturault attacks “La Face” and claims a second win at Val d’Isère
On an extreme hill like “La Face De Bellevarde” in Val d’Isère, there is no other choice than to attack and tackle the steep and icy course from top to bottom. Today, Alexis Pinturault’s talent and strength made the difference and he was able to claim his second giant slalom victory in the French resort.
This 20th World Cup victory was not only a big step in Pinturault’s career, but it was also an emotional win for the whole French team, as Pinturault dedicated his win to his teammate David Poisson, who passed away less than a month ago.
Marcel Hirscher was the fastest in the first run, but he knew he had to push hard to surpass Pinturault’s strong second run. He risked it all and hit a blue gate in the middle part of the course, that was stuck to his right hand for a few gates. This mistake slowed him down a little, but he was still able to earn the second spot of the podium, the 109th podium placement of his career.
Between the two giant slalom giants, Germany’s Stefan Luitz proves that he is in the shape of his life this season, by recording a second podium in as many races. With this 2nd place, Luitz now has six World Cup podiums under his belt, but he still lacks a win. Not doubt that he should be able to score this rather sooner than later.