It has been coming for some time but Alexis Pinturault scored his first World Cup Slalom win of his career down the steep and treacherous face de bellevarde in Val d’Isere. This was the second time that Pinturault had tasted World Cup success, the other was in the City Event in Moscow last winter, yet this was a victory not just for him but for the organizers in getting the race run at all. Felix Neureuther took the runners up spot ahead of Marcel Hirscher as the race transformed from a day race to a night slalom.Â Snow, and huge amounts of snow at that, had fallen in the days leading up to the race and first the race was swapped around with the Giant Slalom and then due to the travel problems the race then took place later in the day.
This was the same slope that had been used for the 2009 World Championships and is not a course for the faint hearted: Steep and with all the new snow, this made it a real rock and roll affair. Normally slalom races are rock hard affaires but despite all the exceptional work that the course crew put in, the snow was soft.
talking after the race, Pinturault said:Â â€œI am pretty surprised,â€ Pinturault said with a big smile. â€œWhen I crossed the finish line in the second run and saw my advantage I could hardly believe it It’s my second victory, after winning a city event in Moscow and its definitely very special victory as itâ€™s my first in a classic discipline. I was hoping to do so well as my slalom had been growing and this is a great confirmation that things are working well! I want to keep this feeling going into the GS tomorrow. I felt strong and mentally ready to do my best today.â€
Having risen from third after the first run, Felix Neureuther commented:Â â€œI think it was a great slalom day today,â€ Neureuther said. â€œI prefer conditions like this to those we had in Levi. You have to fight and risk a lot and that makes it fun – it makes you fight while skiing smart and when that happen you know the best skier will win.â€
Having won the first run, Marcel Hirscher, knew that he would have to go for it on the second run:Â â€œI knew Pinturault skied fast and that I had to take a lot of risk â€“ sometimes that pays off and sometimes it leads to a lot of mistakes. Today I definitely did too many mistakes in the second run.â€Â If most were struggling with the snow and challenging hill, Hirscher struggled with visibility the most.â€œIt was not an easy day, even though the visibility improved compared to the first run but, I still wish there would have been a bit of more light. The crew working on the hill did a great job dealing with over a meter and a half of fresh snow. Our travel Friday night to Val dâ€™Isere got delayed because of all the snow and it has been helpful to start the first run at 2 pm.â€
Britain’s Dave Ryding put in a tremendous effort to try and qualify for the second run from a start number of 58. Ryding posted his thoughts on Facebook: “Well today was rock and roll. I gave it a good go, unfortunately missed the 30 in 42nd by just 0.50.Â Too many mistakes cost me really. Royally shanking the top didn’t help as I was already 1.58 after 16 seconds, managed to go well after that, still scrappy but letting it go and finished 2.80 off. So still respectable but it has to be a clean run from my bib yet.”
Ryding will next race at the Europa Cup race at Obereggen on the 12th