Vive la France! Podium sweep in Kitzbühel
Alexis Pintuarult led a French sweep of the Alpine combined podium today in Kitzbühel (AUT). Victor Muffat-Jeandet and Thomas Mermillod Blondin rounded out the surprise podium. It was the first French podium sweep in 46 years.
The win was an important one for Pinturault, who had been very quiet this season with his previous top finish being fourth place in the Adelboden slalom. But today, Pinturault showed that, despite his podium drought this season, he is still one of the most dynamic skiers on the Audi FIS World Cup tour, winning by 0.89 seconds, despite trailing by 1.22 seconds after the super-G.
“It’s what makes the combined unique. 1.22 seconds isn’t a lot when you talk about the difference between speed and slalom, so I knew there was a chance,” said Pinturault. “I just knew I had to give it everything I had and see what would happen. Today when I finished, it was enough and I was happy to get the win, especially in Kitzbühel, it’s very special.”
For Muffat-Jeandet, it was his fourth podium of the season as he is having the best season of his career. All three of his previous podiums came in the giant slalom, making today’s combined finish a particular surprise as it was a super-G and slalom combination and did not involve his favorite discipline. It was Mermillod Blondin's , fifth-career podium and his first time cracking the top three since 2014 in Lenzerheide (SUI).
The final finish came as a surprise to most people, as all eyes were on the duel between Aksel Lund Svindal and Marcel Hirscher for the victory. Svindal, who won last week’s Alpine Combined in Wengen and topped the field in today's super-G, while Hirscher was in a good position after the first run to get valuable World Cup points and challenge for the victory.
But bad luck met both of the top skiers as Hirscher was disqualified in the second run after barely straddling a gate. Svindal was quick to crash out in his slalom run, which paved the way for the French finish. Svindal now holds the edge in the Overall standings with 916 points compared with Hirscher's 809 points.
Tomorrow, the world-famous Streif will take center stage as the downhillers look to put their names in the history books, and on one of the Kitzbühel gondolas, in the downhill race. The action starts at 11:45 CET.