Austria’s Marcel Hirscher seized a narrow lead in the alpine skiing World Cup standings on Tuesday despite being beaten by final winner Alexis Pinturault in the quarter-finals of the parallel slalom in Moscow.
France’s Pinturault snatched his first World Cup win at the expense of Germany’s Felix Neureuther and confirmed he was one of the brightest hopes of the sport.
The 20-year-old skier from Courchevel had already finished twice second this season, in October’s giant slalom in Soelden and in a super-combined in Chamonix earlier this month.
“I was a kid the last time I skied a parallel slalom. It was my goal of the season to end up on top of the podium, but I didn’t expect it to be in this discipline,” the Frenchman said.
Swede Andre Myhrer took third place in the spectacular event held in a training ground of the Luzhniki soccer stadium as a curtain-raiser to the Champions League soccer match between CSKA Moscow and Real Madrid.
Croatia’s Ivica Kostelic, nursing a knee injury, probably sighed in relief as he watched proceedings on television from home as his two rivals for the overall title crashed out of contention in the quarter-finals of the city event.
Hirscher was the hot favorite after winning both races in the Bulgarian resort of Bansko over the weekend, but he slid out in his heat against Pinturault and missed the 100 points awarded to the winner.
Swiss Beat Feuz, the other main World Cup contender, crashed in exactly the same spot in his quarter-final race against Myrher.
Both were awarded 30 points as joint fifth and Hirscher now leads defending champion Kostelic by 12 points in the overall standings, with Feuz third, 52 points adrift.
“This goes to show that you should never take anything for granted. Who knows? Maybe these 30 points will proved decisive an the end of the season,” Hirscher said.
In the women’s competition, Julia Mancuso of the US bagged the 100 points and a check for 40,000 Swiss francs (US$43,900) by outpacing Austria’s Michaela Kirchgasser in the final.
World Cup leader Lindsey Vonn was ousted in the semis by Mancuso, but salvaged a podium spot by beating Germany’s Maria Hoefl-Riesch in the third-place final.