Pinturault holds the nerve to win in Lenzerheide

Alexis Pinturault held on to win the Giant Slalom Globe and confirm the Overall Globe all on his 30th birthday. Coming into the race the red bob was worn by Marco Odermatt but the Swiss racer was off the pace on the first run and could only finish in 11th place overall as Filip Zubcic and Mathieu Faivre joined Pinturault on the podium. The top five were rounded out by Stefan Brennsteiner and Luca de Aliprandini.

Pinturault made the most of bib one on run one to open up a commanding lead over the rest of the field but if anyone thought that the second run would just be a procession to the finish and the crowning of the French racer as GS and Overall Globe winner, they had to think again.

Run two was set by the Norwegian coach and this was a course that made the athletes work really hard just to make the finish. It was not a pretty advert of racing but it was still Giant Slalom racing. The course made the racers work their skis as the course was over ten seconds slower than the first run. It could be argued that this meant that with the snow that had fallen overnight, this reduced the opportunity for racers to lose the line from speed and risk crashing in the soft snow that shadowed the course.

Alternatively you could agree that the course was set to give Henrik Kristoffersen and Leif Kristian Nestvold Haugen the best chance of making a stake of a place on the podium? If this was the case then at one stage, they held first and second. After the race Kristoffersen, the defending Giant Slalom Globe winner, explained that the season had not been the best for him in Giant Slalom but that he would do his best to sort out the issues that he felt had held him back this season.

As the race rolled into the the top ten, the strength required to finish the course fighting hard for speed, was immense. Gino Caviezel, a Lenzerheide resident, took the lead with nine to go but then the lead changed regularly. Mathieu Faivre ended his season in taking the fastest time on the second run as he set the pace for the last seven to try and better.

All this time Marco Odermatt was strolling around the finish area just hoping beyond hope that Pinturault would not beat him. He had the lead by 25 points coming into the race and while there was a chance, there was a chance.

Zan Kranjec and Justin Murisier lost the power in the run into the finish and then Thibaut Favrot followed suit.

When Luca de Aliprandini went into second behind Faivre there was a feeling of deja vu as de Aliprandini had finished second behind Faivre in the World Championships.

With power and the need for a second run charge and the faintest of chances to make the Globe his, Filip Zubcic attacked and just pushed Faivre out of the lead by 0.01. It was getting nervous all around.

With nothing but his own satisfaction rot race for Stefan Brennsteiner, one of the most improved racers this season, gave it his all and was rewarded with another top five position in coming down into third with just Pinturault to go.

With history making rolling off commentators tongues, Pinturault had a lead of over a second on Zubcic when he left the gate. Memories of the world championships were still in fresh in the mind but this time, Pinturault skied the top steep section sensibly and clean and then came down the flat section on point.

A few small mistakes could be seen by eagle eyed fans but by the time he crossed the line it was race win, GS Globe and overall all in the bag. The birthday boy was shattered through exhaustion and mental relief.

“I was really tired after the World Championships and struggled the last few weeks,” said Pinturault after the race. “After Kranjska Gora, I was really frustrated. And Marco was getting really good results, so I felt the pressure. Today, it was clear what I had to do – I actually felt more pressure in Kranjksa than I did today.”

Pinturault becomes the fourth Frenchman to win the GS Globe after Frederick Covili in 2001-2, Patrick Russel 1970-71 and Jean Claude Killy in 1966-7 and 1967-8. It is only the fourth time a Frenchman has win the Overall after Luc Alphand in 1996-7 and Jean Claude Killy in 1966-7 and 1967-8.

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