Pinturault takes Sölden GS

Mathieu Faivre, Alexis Pinturault and Zan Kranjec.

Alexis Pinturault lived up to the pre-season hype, leading a French one-two punch in today’s giant slalom in the Audi FIS World cup men’s season opener in Soelden (AUT).

Pinturault beat his teammate Mathieu Faivre by 0.54 seconds to claim his 24th career World Cup victory. It was also Pinturault’s 12th career giant slalom win. For Faivre, it was his best finish since last December and his seventh career podium.

All eyes were on Pinturault entering today’s race. After finishing in second place in last year’s Overall race, he was dubbed one of the favorites to fill the footsteps of now-retired Marcel Hirscher.

The Frenchman wasted no time in the season-opener setting the tone as he held the lead after the first run, albeit by a slim 0.02 seconds margin ahead of Faivre.

“It was really fantastic,” Pinturault said after the race. “I had two solid runs. It was really hard on the second run we couldn’t see anything on the piste.”

The second run proved to be tough for a handful of athletes, including young Swiss rising star Marco Odermatt, who sat in third place after the first run, but slipped to 13th after a costly mistake. Taking advantage of Odermatt’s misfortune was Slovenian Zan Kranjec, who landed on the podium 0.63 seconds off the winning pace.

After two straight years of cancellations on the Rettenbach Glacier, Mother Nature finally cooperated this year, offering up optimal conditions with sunny skies and a rock hard piste. Ultimately, too much sun was the cause of the tougher conditions on the second run as it created massive shadows on parts of the course.

The tour now has a lengthy break before action resumes on Levi (FIN) at the end of November.