Vlhova, Pinturault seal first overall World Cup titles

·3-min read

The last World Cup trophies of the season were decided in Lenzerheide on Saturday as Petra Vlhova won her first women's overall title, Katharina Liensberger won the slalom crown while Alexis Pinturault, on his 30th birthday, clinched the men's overall and giant slalom titles.

Pinturault's victory in the last men's giant slalom of the season made him the first French winner of a big crystal globe for overall champion since 1997.

"Since the beginning of the season I told myself that things could end in the most beautiful way in Lenzerheide, on my birthday, and this is what happened with the small globe, the big globe today, the best present I could have given myself," said Pinturault.

Austrian Liensberger won the women's race to edge American Mikaela Shiffrin, who was second, and Vlhova to the discipline title.

Liensberger was quickest in each run, recording a combined time of one minute and 48.77 seconds, 1.24sec ahead of Shiffrin. Swiss Michelle Gisin was 1.95sec back in third.

"I don't think I can ask for anything more, or that it can get any better," Liensberger said.

Vlhova was only sixth, more than three seconds behind the winner, but she claimed a bigger prize.

The Slovakian started the first run with a mistake, losing her balance before regaining control to finish sixth.

Her second run was made with safety in mind and she clinched sixth to seal her first overall title.

"This season for me was really difficult, I did a lot of races and it was very long," said Vlhova.

"But now I can say 'I did it'. Coming from Slovakia, I don't have a big team, we're not a big ski nation, so to bring the globe home means a lot to me and my country I think I need time to realise everything."

Pinturault entered the race being pursued by Marco Odermatt for the overall and giant slalom titles.

- 'Really tired' -

The Swiss speed specialist had cut Pinturault's overall lead to 31 points in Kranjska Gora last weekend, where the Frenchman crashed in the slalom.

But when bad weather forced the cancellation of the downhill and super-G scheduled for Lenzerheide on Wednesday and Thursday, the odds shifted in Pinturault's favour.

Pinturault made sure by winning his fourth World Cup giant slalom of the season in a combined time of 2:15.75.

Croatian Filip Zubcic was second, two tenths of a second back, with Frenchman Mathieu Faivre a further hundredth of a second behind. Odermatt was 11th, 1.28 behind Pinturault.

"I was really tired after the World Championships and struggled the last few weeks. 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," Pinturault told a press conference, looking ahead to Sunday's trophy ceremony.

"As far as the big globe is concerned, it will sink in tomorrow. I know that I am first, that I will remain first, and it is a very special moment. It's the first time in my life that I shed tears of joy."

Odermatt said he was "disappointed" but added: "He was simply stronger. The best won. He deserved his two globes."

Sunday sees skiers cometing in the women's giant slalom and men's slalom, the globes in both disciplines having already been claimed by Italian Marta Bassino and Austrian Marco Schwarz respectively.