French skier Pinturault wins gold in combined at home worlds
COURCHEVEL, France (AP) — Racing in his hometown, Alexis Pinturault ended a drought of nearly two years by winning the gold medal in the men’s combined at the world skiing championships on Tuesday.
In a tricky slalom run on a steep pitch, the Frenchman retained his lead from the super-G portion to edge defending champion Marco Schwarz by 0.10 seconds.
The Austrian, second after the first leg, seemed headed for the victory when leading Pinturault by 0.30 seconds at the final split but he made a costly mistake at the fourth-to-last gate.
Pinturault is a Courchevel native and his family runs a hotel close to the L’Eclipse course.
“In my village, where I live, to win a gold medal here, that will be a super memory,” Pinturault said after earning his 10th career medal, and third gold, from major championships.
“A perfect day, a super performance in the super-G and also a good performance in the slalom. For me, this is a sensational day.”
Pinturault had not won a race since March 2021 in a World Cup giant slalom in Switzerland to wrap up the overall title on his 30th birthday.
Schwarz’s teammate, Raphael Haaser, finished 0.44 behind to win bronze, a day after his sister, Ricarda Haaser, also took bronze in the women’s combined.
American skier River Radamus held on to his position from the super-G portion and finished fourth, missing a medal by a quarter of a second.
The combined event adds the times from one super-G run and one slalom run.
Pinturault previously won the world title in 2019, but was beaten to gold by Schwarz two years later. He also took Olympic silver in 2018.
Pinturault dominated the discipline when it was still part of the World Cup circuit until 2020, winning six of the last eight season titles.
The Frenchman has been struggling this season, with a third place from a super-G in Beaver Creek in early December his only podium result.
“It’s amazing what’s coming out today and I hope to enjoy it because it was pretty difficult some months ago,” Pinturault said.
Just like Pinturault, Schwarz also had only one top-three result on the circuit.
He trailed the Frenchman by just 0.06 after the super-G portion, but won time on every split in the slalom until near the end of his run.
“I had a little mistake before the finish line but all in all it was a good day,” Schwarz said. “I lost gold right before the finish. But I made it to the finish and am happy with my silver medal.”
Schwarz has a medal of every color after bronze in 2019 and gold in 2021. “I’m pretty happy about that,” he said.
Radamus had mixed feelings after matching his best career result at a major event, a year after coming fourth in the GS at the Beijing Olympics. The American said he was satisfied with his approach, not with his result.
“It’s nice, but honestly, you don’t come to world championships hoping to get fourth,” Radamus said.
Johannes Strolz, the Olympic champion, had a disappointing showing as the Austrian trailed Pinturault by 2.48 seconds after the super-G before not finishing the slalom, his strongest event.
Marco Odermatt, who is dominating the circuit, was disqualified for missing a gate shortly before the finish of his super-G. The Swiss skier was expected to skip the slalom anyway, since he has not trained in the event after hurting his knee in a downhill in Austria in January.
Several skiers, including Olympic silver medalist Aleksander Aamodt Kilde and two-time world champion Vincent Kriechmayr, used the super-G only as training for Thursday’s race and did not start in the slalom portion.
Kilde said he was not able to ski slalom since hurting his right hand in the same downhill race where Odermatt’s mishap occurred.
“This morning I woke up and I wanted to fight for a medal, but I tried slalom and with my hand, from Kitzbuehel, it’s not really working in slalom just yet,” Kilde said. “I tried one run and no chance.”
The next event at the worlds is the women’s super-G on Wednesday.
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