Maiden victory for Mathieu Faivre in Val d'Isère GS
What an exciting race! The level of this giant slalom on the O.K course in Val d’Isère (replacement of Beaver Creek) was extremely high and the scenario with a fired up local French team very exciting. In the end, it’s a maiden victory for Mathieu Faivre, who climbs on the highest step of the podium between both standings leaders Marcel Hirscher (2nd +0.49) and Alexis Pinturault (3rd +1.11).
After the first run, only one man could hold on to the lead against the five attacking croissants, that ranked 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 6th with in that order Mathieu Faivre only +0.01 off, Thomas Fanara, Victor Muffat-Jeandet and Alexis Pinturault. It’s Marcel Hirscher, the men that won the Overall globe five times in a row and the giant slalom globe three times, including the two past years. The tension could not have been bigger ahead of the second run.
Alexis Pinturault charged the course and was able to lay down an amazing run, with split times that led him +1.11 ahead of the current leader Thomas Fanara. Neither Riccardo Tonetti, nor teammates Muffat-Jeandet and Thomas Fanara would be able to beat this time.
With only two racers left at the start, both within the smallest margin possible, the battle promised to be exciting. Mathieu Faivre started with a strong run, which offered him a glimpse on his first World Cup victory ever.
The pressure was now on Marcel Hirscher’s shoulders. The Austrian, who started the season with a podium in Sölden and a win in Levi, battled hard and tackled the course in an aggressive way, but failed to beat Faivre’s time and finished second of today’s giant slalom.
Before today, Mathieu Faivre only scored two World Cup podiums, both by the end of last season in Yuzawa Naeba in February, where he finished second, and at the Finals in St. Moritz where he grabbed a 3rd place. Constant performances throughout the winter in giant slalom last season allowed him to claim the 4th place in the standings and built up confidence. Today he is reaping the benefits of several years of hard work and celebrating his first World Cup victory.
The men’s World Cup Tour will stay in Val d’Isère for the scheduled “Criterium de la Première Neige” that will be held on “La Face” next week-end, with a giant slalom on Saturday and a slalom on Sunday.