Noel starts the season winning at home; Ryding fifth

After the storm came the battle for Slalom supremacy. Clement Noel produced a stunning first run to lead the way and then held on to win for the first time in his home village. Noel was in sublime form with the fastest time on both runs as he won by 1.40 seconds ahead of Sweden's Kristoffer Jakobsen and Filip Zubcic taking third. The top five was rounded out by Daniel Yule and Britain's Dave Ryding.

After the brutal conditions that the Giant Slalom racers had had to endure twenty four hours earlier, the course crew did an amazing job, Dave Ryding explained after the race, in re-injecting the slope so that the heavy snow fall from the previous few days would give all the racers a great opportunity.

With the course taking its time to come into light as the sun came over the mountains, a number of the early racers, some of the recognised stars of Slalom, failed to make the qualification: Marco Schwarz, the defending World Cup Champion and Alexis Pinturault, the defending Overall World Cup Champion being two of the most notable.

With ten to go on the second run it was the Belgian Armond Marchant leading the race. The challenge of going on the attack for many racers to try and secure points in the Slalom Globe caught out a few. the find line between being on the mark and pushing too hard saw some racers lose out and drop down the leaderboard. Marchant got it spot on as he rose up from 18th after the first run and into the lead with ten to go.

As the first run was completed, it looked as it Ryding and Daniel Yule would be toed in ninth. On closer inspection of the run of Victor Muffet-Jeandet, he was deemed to have straddled gate 47 and Ryding and Yule moved up a spot. This meant a reprieve for Manfred Moelgg and back into the race.

With Ryding in the gate, the nerves and the determination he showed were in equal proportion. As soon as Ryding hit the gate, the Quinn Estates sponsored racer, was into the groove and attacking. The top was good and then Ryding admitted after the race that it was hard to measure where to attack and where to be a little cautious. This was the challenge he felt after the race.

When he crossed the line it was green and you could see how much this meant to him. Eight more racers to go to find out where he would end up.

The time in the leaders box was short lived as his great friend Daniel Yule edged him out of the lead by 0.01. When Yule came through and saw it was Ryding that he had pipped by 0.01, you could see the friendly joy as he pointed to Ryding.

Next down was Swiss racer Sandro Simonet but he would crash out before Filip Zubcic, a more recognised Giant Slalom racer would take the lead by just 0.04 from Yule. Jakobsen then took the lead and you could sense that top ten would be good for Ryding. How differently things panned out.

First Manuel Feller straddled and then Tanguy Nef straddled the very first gate. Foss-Solevaag, normally one of the most reliable and consistent racers made a mistake and dropped down behind Ryding. Although he was now in fourth, this was a career to date best performance in Val d'Isere, normally a tough stop for Ryding on the tour.

When Alex Vinatzer made a mess of the last two gates, missing the last, things for Ryding were looking up.

Noel however proved that you can still win races from going last. After the race he explained it was "Great to win on home slope" before adding that this was "the best way to start new season."

The first race of the season is always a tough call the Frenchman added as "no-one knows who is fast and that the real truth is the race."

"Now I know I can be fast," Noel explained.

This was Noel's 9th win and his second on French snow. Noel added "Its amazing winning at home, it is something different."

If the French were happy, the effect on the British team was just as inspiring! Oh to have been 0.06 quicker....

Full results

about author