Alexis Pinturault on Monday won a men’s World Cup giant slalom for his second win in two days as the French skier returned to the top of the overall standings.
Pinturault added 250 points to his tally over the three-day event in the Austrian Alps to overtake Aleksander Aamodt Kilde.
The Norwegian finished Monday’s race in sixth and now trails Pinturault by 26 points with six races left on the calendar.
Kilde’s Norwegian teammate, Henrik Kristoffersen, is third — 107 points behind Pinturault.
The intermediate lead in the overall standings could be crucial with the remainder of the World Cup season in doubt, because of possible travel restrictions regarding the spread of COVID-19 in Europe.
The men’s World Cup has additional stops scheduled in Norway and Slovenia ahead of the finals in Italy from March 16 to 22.
“I had to earn as many points as possible this weekend regarding the next races,” said Pinturault, referring to this weekend’s downhill and super-G, which would typically better suit speed specialist Kilde.
“We will see what happens with the virus, but I have done my best,” said Pinturault, who considered a rare start in the downhill on Saturday to protect his overall lead.
On Saturday, Pinturault finished fourth in a super-G and dominated an Alpine combined event the following day.
Having carved out a lead of 0.90 seconds over Philip Zubcic in the opening run, Pinturault lost half of his advantage over his Croatian competitor after posting only the 21st-fastest time in the final run.
Zubcic got his second podium result in 10 days after becoming the first male skier from Croatia to win a grand slalom in Naeba, Japan, last weekend.
Kristoffersen improved from sixth place to third after the opening run, 0.72 behind Pinturault, and took the lead in the giant slalom standings, six points ahead of his French rival.
Zan Kranjec — leader of the discipline standings going into the race — was third after the opening run, but the Slovenian dropped to 13th for his results in grand slalom this season, his worst.
“A lot can still happen,” Kristoffersen said. “There are two grand slalom races and two slaloms left — that’s 400 points.”
Unlike Pinturault, Kristoffersen is to sit out the upcoming speed weekend in Norway.
“It’s better to take the time and prepare well, and get the chance to win both races in Kranjska Gora the following week than to finish 25th in Kvitfjell,” the Norwegian said.
Monday’s race replaced a grand slalom canceled in Val d’Isere, France, in December last year.
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