Pinturault targets giant gold for world podium sweep

·3-min read

Alexis Pinturault heads into Friday's giant slalom at the world championships as hot favourite, having already won a silver and bronze in Cortina d'Ampezzo.

The French racer was beaten into combined silver by just four-hundredths of a second by Austrian Marco Schwarz, just days after bagging a surprise bronze in the opening super-G.

It took his world medal haul to five, having already won bronzes in the giant in 2015 and 2019 and combined gold in 2019.

"If I had to choose a discipline, the giant is one I hold close to my heart," said Pinturault.

"It's an event in which I haven't won a gold, I'd like to be able to do that."

'Pintu' has also won two Olympic bronze medals in his quest to become the first French racer since the legendary Jean-Claude Killy to win the giant, back in 1968.

Pinturault has been back and for to his Austrian base as he tries to conserve himself for Friday's race, with the slalom to be held on Sunday.

"The worlds are great when you're there, but it also sucks a lot of energy out of you," he said.

"It's good to stay at the house, relax and think of other stuff."

- No Mr.GS -

One racer missing will be American Ted Ligety, who picked up the nickname Mr.GS, such was his dominance in the event.

The two-time Olympic champion, 36, had been planning a final hurrah in the Cortina giant slalom, but eventually pulled out because of back pain.

"I was excited to race one last time, then retire on my own terms," said Ligety, a three-time consecutive world GS champion (2011, 2013, 2015).

"Unfortunately, it was not to be, my back said 'I'm the boss and you're finished now'."

The world champion is Henrik Kristoffersen, but the Norwegian has not hit top form this season so far.

He stands just 12th in World Cup giant slalom standings which Pinturault tops.

In six starts, Kristoffersen has failed to make the podium, with only two top-10 finishes.

"My performances and results haven't been as solid as I would have liked this season," admitted Kristoffersen, who made his World Cup debut in 2012 at the age of 17, with a first victory coming just two years later.

"My career this far has been one big success, in which I have really not had a continuous run of varying or bad results.

"This season so far has been my toughest one yet on the World Cup circuit. After struggling for a little bit, I have given it some reflection.

"Almost everyone goes through a spell of bad performances, a serious injury or a struggle of some kind, and this is one of mine.

"I feel like it’s important to stay positive and try to resolve the challenge at hand within the best of my ability. It’s not like I need to reinvent the wheel, and I know that I am a good skier."

Likely to also be challenging for a podium finish will be all-rounder Marco Odermatt, the 23-year-old Swiss who finished a disappointing 11th in the super-G, fourth in the downhill and 11th in the parallel giant slalom.

In six giant slalom races this season, Odermatt's worst finish was fourth, having bagged four podiums including one victory, in Santa Caterina.