Zubcic rises to the mark to win in Bansko

Filip Zubcic produced a stunning second run to take his second win of the season in Bansko. First run leader Mathieu Faivre took second with Stefan Brennsteiner taking his first career podium in third. The two main protagonists for the Giant Slalom Globe, Alexis Pinturault and Marco Odermatt finished in fourth and fifth.

Bansko is warming up to host the World Junior Championships next week yet the slope was fully prepared for the Men of the Giant Slalom World Cup. Hard snow conditions and some interesting course sets gave the racers a lot to think about as they battled down the steep slope. Clean turns were not always possible and trying to keep the outside ski from bouncing through the turn was a constant battle for all the racers.

Faivre had set the mark on the first run but he only just had the edge on Zubcic and the Croatian had the advantage of going first out of the two on the second run and so was able to set the time to beat. Up until that point there had been some great runs by Stefan Hadalin, who had come from bib 47 into 24th and then set the fastest time on the second run to lift him finally into ninth place at the end of the race.

Young Italian, Filippo Della Vite, brought to Bansko to gain experience on the slope to be used for the World Juniors, dialled himself into the conditions to take the early lead and lifted himself from 28th into 16th with the second fastest time of the second run Della Vite finished just ahead of Henrik Kriostoffersen who had another nightmare second run, just as he felt he was getting things back on track.

Thibaut Favrot had been the man who had dislodged Hadalin from the lead and he was removed from the lead by Manuel Feller. By the time the last TV break had allowed the course to be given one final preparation for the top racers, Maillard and Schmid were not able to make the most of things.

Odermatt, fifth after the first run, knew that he had to better the result of Pinturault if he was to make headway into the commanding lead the Frenchman has amassed after three consecutive race wins. He went into the lead but the look on his face showed he did not think it would be enough.

The surprise from the first run, Stefan Brennsteiner made sure that the Austrians would be challenging at the top of the results by going ahead and then Kristoffersen had another mare of a run and dropped down the rankings.

Next down the course was Alexis Pinturault and the Frenchman was on a mission. He has his eyes on the Overall and the Giant Slalom Globe would be a great addition. Midway down the slope, Pinturault got his arm tangled up with a gate and his right stick flew off. How he managed to continue on is testament to his ability. The balance was affected, the feel of skiing was also affected and for Pinturault it was damage limitation.

In terms of the Giant Slalom Globe, Pinturault managed to stay in front of Odermatt and so extended his lead in the standings. It would be no four wins on the bounce though.

This left Filip Zubcic in the gate and Faivre to follow him down. Zubcic struggled at the top on the first run but made no such errors on the second run as he tore up the course going almost a second ahead of Brennsteiner. This laid all the pressure on the new World Champion who was last to go with only an advantage of 0.11.

Faivre has never won a first run but skied within himself to get down for the runners up spot.

The warm conditions had given the racers a lot to contend with. Going from hard snow to it slowly getting softer was hard to contend with and while Faivre did catch up with Zubcic a little lower down, ultimately he finished 0.40 off the pace of the racer who had finished in fourth in Cortina d'Ampezzo at the World Championships. Redemption.

For Charlie Raposo this was a frustrating day. At Cortina, Raposo had had an incredible run in the Team race to be only 0.01 behind Alex Schmid who had come fourth in the individual parallel. This raised his confidence and rightly so. In the classic Giant Slalom race, Raposo had shown more signs that he is edging closer to a big breakthrough before he crashed out spectacularly.

Bansko race one was a day he will consign to the record books and move on. You get races like that when you want it so much and then you try too hard perhaps. Raposo is a talented Giant Slalom racer and is seeing the results that the Slalom boys are getting and he wants to add his name to the roll of honour that is being created. It will come.

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