Home snow is always an advantage and after this weekend the French skiers will not be arguing with that. Four of the top five positions for the giant slalom of Val d’Isère were occupied by the French with Mathieu Faivre leading the lot.
Faivre claimed his first ever World Cup win on Sunday beating a star-studded field in the Giant Slalom.
The 24-year-old from Nice was second after the first run and much to the delight of the cheering home crowd he registered the fastest second run to ski to the top of the podium for the biggest win of his career to date.
Five-time defending World Cup overall champion Marcel Hirscher won this race last december and was looking good to repeat that feat after topping the timesheets after the first run.
The Austrian, who kicked off the season with a podium in Sölden and a win in Levi, took an aggressive approach to the second but failed to beat Faivre’s blistering time and had to settle for the runner’s up spot.
Alexis Pinturault capped off a fine day for the French contingent with a third place finish.
He crossed over the line at 1.11 seconds.
Thomas Fanara was fourth and Victor Muffat-Jeandet was fifth to make sure four of the top five positions were covered by the Blue, White and Red of the French flag.
Another giant slalom and a slalom will take place in Val d’Isère next week-end, not on the Oreiller-Killy course, but on the Bellevarde Face. A legendary slope on which Victor Muffat-Jeandet took third place in last season’s giant slalom and on which Julien Lizeroux became 2009 world championship runner-up in both the slalom and combined.
Here’s what they had to say about this course.
Victor Muffat-Jeandet : ‘‘It is true that the Bellevarde Face is rather special. It is very, very steep, and often very, very icy. December allows us to have good snow conditions. It is true that this slope has been kind to me in the past, it is here that I scored my first points in the World Cup. The fact that it is very steep allows me not to think too much about it and allows me completely relax. So often, that works well for me.”
Julien Lizeroux : ‘‘The course has no flat sections, but on the other hand this is a slope that pulls you all the way to the finish line. It is a very demanding course. Then, there is the height which is between 1800 and 2000 meters, and it really gets the lactic acid going as well as being tough on the cardio. And moreover, the quality of snow is generally very, very difficult. They spray it with water so it turns into ice. But it does deteriorate a lot due to the amount of skiers going down. So it is a real battle, a real fight, but it is good.’‘
All is Gut at Lake Louise
Lara Gut, the reigning World Cup overall champion from Switzerland was second in Saturday’s downhill but she upgraded that to Super-G gold the following day with a masterful performance at the Canadian resort of Lake Louise.
It was her third career Super-G victory at Lake Louise and her second victory of the new season following her Giant Slalom triumph at the opening event in Solden.
She finished one tenth of a second faster than Liechtenstein’s Tina Weirather who had to be content with second place on the day.
It was her first podium finish of the season but sixth career top three placing at Lake Louise although four of those came in the downhill.
Sofia Goggia of Italy took third place while overall world cup leader Mikaela Shiffrin ended the event down in 34th place.
The 21-year-old American, who specializes in the more technical events of slalom and giant slalom, was 1.84 seconds off the winner’s pace.
Shiffrin has won twice so far this season but after seven races her overall lead has now been cut to just 28 points by second placed Gut.
While defending overall Ski jumping World Cup champion Peter Prevc continues to search for his best form early on in this campaign his younger brother Domen has kicked off only his second season in the elite class in style.
He picked up his very first victory at the Finnish resort of Ruka at the end of last month and carried over that winning momentum to Klingenthal, Germany.
The 17-year old rising star scored a winning tally of 286.9 points with jumps of 140 and 141 metres.
He now leads the overall world cup standings 16 points clear of Germany’s Severin Freund who disappointed with an 11th place finish.
Prevc celebrated his second win by the smallest of margins.
He finished 0.2 points ahead of Norway’s form man Daniel Andre Tande.
Tande produced the day’s longest jump at 143.0 meters to add to his first effort of 136.5 metres.
Austrian Stefan Kraft took third for his first podium finish of the season with third place.