Alexis Pinturault finally transferred his consistent winning form on the World Cup circuit into a gold medal at a major championship.
The French skier produced the second-fastest slalom leg in the Alpine combined at the world championships on Monday to rise from 24th place after the downhill portion and win by 0.24 seconds.
Stefan Hadalin of Slovenia was second and Marco Schwarz of Austria took bronze, 0.46 behind Pinturault.
It was Pinturault’s first major individual gold, even though he has won the World Cup combined title on four occasions.
One of three Olympic medals won by Pinturault was silver in the combined in Pyeongchang last year. At the worlds, he won gold in the team event in St. Moritz, Switzerland, in 2017 and bronze in giant slalom in Beaver Creek, Colorado, in 2015.
While his victory didn’t come as a surprise, especially with Marcel Hirscher — the defending Olympic champion in combined — not entering the event, Hadalin’s silver certainly was. The 23-year-old Hadalin hasn’t finished in the top five in any discipline on the World Cup circuit.
Hadalin was the only skier to post a quicker time than Pinturault in the slalom leg, capitalizing on going out on fresh snow as the first racer.
Schwarz, who is also 23 and is the current leader of the World Cup combined standings, won his first individual medal of any color at a major championship.
Dominik Paris, the super-G champion, led after the downhill portion — and was 1.52 seconds ahead of Pinturault — but his lead was wiped out by halfway in the slalom. He placed ninth.
Ryan Cochran-Siegle, the latest member of the “Skiing Cochrans” family from the United States, fell from second place after the downhill to an 18th-place finish.
The top six in the standings were all slalom specialists, perhaps explaining why the combined is under threat as the International Ski Federation decides on the future of Alpine skiing’s original Olympic discipline.
FIS could replace Alpine combined with parallel slalom racing at future Olympics and world championships.
Chilean skier Henrik von Appen crashed in the downhill leg and didn’t race in the slalom. He skidded on an icy section about a third of the way down the course and landed on his left hip on top of his skies, before sliding down into the safety nets.
Von Appen could be heard screaming after he crashed. Medical staff tended to him.
It wasn’t immediately clear what type of injury he may have sustained. There was no immediate word from FIS or the Chilean ski federation.