Pinturault wins combined event when Paris straddles gate
AP Sports Writer
BORMIO, Italy — Alexis Pinturault of France secured another World Cup Alpine combined victory when first-run leader Dominik Paris straddled a gate toward the end of his slalom run on Friday.
For his seventh win in the discipline, Pinturault won with a 0.42-second advantage over Peter Fill of Italy.
Kjetil Jansrud of Norway finished third, 0.45 back.
Pinturault stood 19th after the downhill run — 1.65 seconds behind Paris — but had the fastest slalom leg to post his 21st career win across all disciplines. He has won four of the last five, and six of the last nine World Cup combined races.
“He’s a way better downhiller than people expect him to be,” Jansrud said. “And then being an extremely good slalom skier makes him a dangerous combination. So he’s the man to beat.”
Paris was positioned to duplicate his victory in the downhill a day earlier when he held an advantage of 0.46 ahead of Pinturault at the last checkpoint of the slalom leg, but the Italian lost control about 10 gates from the finish.
Overall World Cup leader Marcel Hirscher, the 2015 combined world champion, didn’t enter.
Mauro Caviezel of Switzerland and Thomas Dressen finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
This was the first of two World Cup combined races this season, with the next in Wengen, Switzerland, in January. A combined will also be contested at the Pyeongchang Olympics in February.
The combined is often considered the toughest test in skiing, since it requires vastly different skills between the high-speed downhill and the sharp and rapid turns of slalom. This race was a case in point, since the downhill was physically demanding on the bumpy Stelvio course then the slalom was held under the lights on a layout that didn’t leave much room for specialists to excel.
After his downhill run, Paris bent over in exhaustion and rubbed his thighs to relieve his aching muscles.
“It was one of the hardest downhills we ever had in combined,” Pinturault said. “Also, the slalom had a really long flat and was really straight, so it was really hard to make a huge difference. … I won today also because of my downhill performance.”
It was the first podium result this season for Fill, the two-time defending champion of the season-long World Cup downhill title.
“When you don’t train much slalom you don’t know what to expect,” Fill said. “I told myself, ‘Just attack and what happens happens.’ So I have to be pleased.”
Up next for the men’s and women’s circuits is a slalom city event in Oslo, Norway, on New Year’s Day.
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The graduates of Vail Mountain School’s class of 2019 will be off to far-flung destinations next fall, set to enter college in one of 16 different states or explore the world on a gap year. One grad is even attending college in Canada.