Pinturault joins the greats in winning in Alta Badia

Alexis Pinturault joined the list of winners down the Gran Risa in Alta Badia as he won the first run and then held on to win the race by the narrow margin of 0.07 ahead of rising Norwegian racer Atle Lie McGrath with Switzerland's Justin Murisier taking third. Switzerland also had Marco Odermatt in the top five in fourth with Tommy Ford taking fifth, all five racers separated by just 0.41 seconds.

It was 19 years since the last Frenchman won in Alta Badia but in Alexis Pinturault, the French had a trump card. The dark light and brutally hard conditions in terms of the snow, meant that this is one of the hardest races on the tour. The organisers are very adept in creating hard snow through injecting the course and while this makes the opportunity for later runners to make the second run pretty even.

The second run was fascinating to observe. Memories of Ligety winning by over two seconds back in 2012 were not going to be superseded but to was more a thought of the demise of the Austrians, oh how they miss the mighty Hirscher and the how the Italians, with only one racer in the second run are been torn to threads by Covid. In their place have come the Attacking Vikings and the Swiss. The Norwegians had five on the second run start list while the Swiss had four.

The Italians may have only had Riccardo Tonetti on the second run but he made good time in posting the fastest second run time to move up from 23rd to 11th.

Murisier battled hard from eleventh to take the race lead from Tommy Ford and many of the better racers from the first run succumbed to the light and the hill as they were unable to better the Swiss racers time.

It was the precocious talent of McGrath that dislodged Murisier from the leaders seat with four racers to go. As he came through the finish, the young Norwegian screamed "Thats what I am talking about," as he saw the green light.

First Odermatt and then Mr Second Run Charge, Filip Zubcic failed to hold out for the race lead and it seemed at one point if Pinturault would also succumb as his lead was whittled down. Could the Norwegian youngsters make it two wins and a hat trick of Norwegian wins over the weekend?

McGrath's father, Felix had posted a career best of second in a World Cup race, taking second in Are in March 1988, and Atle was delighted to have matched his father's career best.

If McGrath was happy, Pinturault was delighted to have joined the list of winners on the Gran Risa. Victory, his second of the season after winning the Parallel GS earlier in December, lifts him closer to Odermatt in the race for the discipline Globe and he now takes the lead in the Overall by one point ahead of Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, winner of the two speed races in Val Gardena.

Rossignol sponsored racer, Charlie Raposo crashed out on the first run.

With the opening two slaloms of the season to follow now, one in Alta Badia with three British racers (Dave Ryding 15, Billy Major 66 and Laurie Taylor 69), the season is hotting up!

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