Alexis Pinturault held off a challenge from twenty-year-old Norwegian skier Atle Lie McGrath to win the men’s World Cup giant slalom on the legendary black piste Gran Risa course in the heart of the Dolomites, Sunday.
Leading after the first run, Pinturault came in hot and technically sound during his second go to top McGrath by seven-hundredths of a second.
“It was really close. It was a huge fight,” Pinturault said after his winning run. “The light was slowly going down because it started to be a little bit late. It made such a difference in the pitch. But I tried my best and pushed really hard, and it paid off.”
Here, a closer look at the Frenchman’s dissection of a shadowy course:
Swiss skier Justin Murisier, 28, finished third 0.24 seconds for his first career podium result.
McGrath, who had not finished in the top 10 in his 13 previous starts, was born in Burlington, Vermont. He is the son of Felix McGrath, a World Cup skier for the U.S. ski team in the late-1980s and early ’90s. When he was two years old, the family moved to Norway, his mother’s home country. His mother is former college cross-country skier and University of Vermont hall-of-famer Selma Lie.
Wearing bib 29, McGrath posted the fourth-fastest time in the first run and took the lead after the second.
“This was really unbelievable,” McGrath said. “My goal today was to have fun. My first time skiing the Gran Risa from the top, such a nice day; the slope was beautiful. I told myself to enjoy the moment and ski as well as I can.”
Fifteen of Pinturault’s 31 career World Cup wins are in GS, but Sunday was his first podium this season in the event. The win also put Pinturault atop the overall, one point ahead of Aleksander Aamodt Kilde.
World Cup action continues in Alta Badia with a slalom Monday. Here are some racers to watch.
Technically Sound Norwegian Looks to Top Overall With Victory
Twenty-six-year-old Norwegian Henrik Kristoffersen (+600 on BetMGM) won the slalom crystal globe last year for a second time (2015-’16) moves to climb to the top of the standings in the discipline this season.
Since 2000, only Marcel Hirscher has won the men’s slalom crystal globe in successive seasons (three in a row 2012-’15). Career, Kristoffersen has won 17 slalom events in the World Cup, fourth-most among men behind Ingemar Stenmark (40), Alberto Tomba (35), and Marcel Hirscher (32).
Kristoffersen can also become the second man to win a giant slalom and a slalom in Alta Badia in the World Cup, after Hirscher.
Another Frenchman Heats it Up in Dolemites
Clément Noël (+200) finished only two points behind Kristoffersen in the slalom standings last World Cup season, and he can become the first Frenchman to secure the men’s slalom crystal globe since Jean-Baptiste Grange in 2008-’09.
Since the start of the 2018-’19 World Cup season, Noël has claimed the most wins (6) and the most podiums (10) in men’s World Cup slalom events. At only 23, Noël’s six career slalom wins in the World Cup rank him in fourth place among French male skiers, behind Jean Noël Augert (13), Patrick Russel (9), and Jean-Baptiste Grange (8).
Tis the Season for (Daniel) Yule
Last season, Daniel Yule (+400) won three slalom events in the World Cup, tied with Noël. Only Noël (6) had more World Cup slalom podiums than Yule (5).
The twenty-seven-year-old Swiss technician finished third in the slalom standings in the 2019=’20 World Cup, and with a strong showing, Monday is looking to become the first Swiss skier to take the slalom crystal globe since Dumeng Giovanoli in 1967-’68.
Yule already holds the Swiss record for most wins (4) and podium finishes (10) in men’s World Cup slalom events.
Pinturault May Look For Back-to-Back Wins
Pinturault (+400) returns to the hill Monday with the hot hand. The career three-time World Cup slalom individual event winner has also been plagued of late. He “DNF’d” in three of the last four slalom starts with the only exception that runs a second-place finish in Schladming last season at the end of January.
And those looking for a long-shot should check on Sebastian Foss Solevaag (+2500). The twenty-nine-year-old Norwegian has finished in the top-10 in eight of the nine slalom events season, the only exception a 14th place in Zagreb in early January. No other man had more top 10 finishes in slalom. He also skied well during practice and is looking to bring the year to a close with another podium in the discipline.