Alexis Pinturault beats Henrik Kristoffersen for 30th World Cup win

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LECH-ZUERS, Austria — Alexis Pinturault edged Henrik Kristoffersen in a floodlit men’s World Cup parallel event on Friday for his 30th career win.

The Frenchman built a lead of 0.16 seconds over his Norwegian rival on the slightly faster blue course, before Kristoffersen shaved off only five hundredths of his deficit in the deciding run.

The victory lifted Pinturault into outright 10th place on the all-time winners list in men’s World Cup history, overtaking former Austrian standout Stephan Eberharter. Next on the list is American skier Bode Miller with 33 wins.

“If you talk about the victory and the race today, it is something really great,” Pinturault said.

“It was pretty good, it was going so fast that you have no time to think about it. You have to focus on your race and on your runs.”

Pinturault has been the most successful active male skier since record eight-time overall champion Marcel Hirscher retired in 2019 after winning 67 races.

The result also made the Frenchman the first male skier to win races in six different Alpine disciplines, matching Mikaela Shiffrin’s record on the women’s circuit.

However, Pinturault played down the importance of that milestone, pointing out that the former city events and the current parallel events are regarded as two different disciplines, although they were “more or less the same” in his opinion.

“I am not here for the numbers, I am here to have fun, to attack,” he said. “And today was great. I skied really well, that’s the most important for me.”

Alexander Schmid of Germany finished the parallel event in third, beating Adrian Pertl of Austria by 0.58 after winning both runs of the small final.

Alexander Aamodt Kilde, who succeeded Hirscher as overall champion last season, was sixth fastest in qualifying but lost his round-of-16 duel against Christian Hirschbuehl of Austria.

Kristoffersen, who won the season title in both technical disciplines last season, said “today was good for me, I am very satisfied with the race,” but the Norwegian repeated his earlier criticism of the format, calling the courses too straightforward.

“If you have racers competing so close to each other, you cannot work with rolls or jumps. If you see the slalom in Kitzbuehel, the downhill in Kitzbuehel, or the giant slalom in Adelboden, there is so much terrain and you have to ski in the flats and in the steep parts. But (the parallel format) is made for the show.”

It was the only parallel event of the World Cup season, though the discipline is on the schedule at the world championships in Italy in February.

The parallel event is a quick format, with two skiers racing side-by-side on identical, shortened giant slalom courses, marked with red and blue gates, respectively.

They take one run on each course, with the shortest aggregate time deciding the winner.

Contrary to previous seasons, only 16 starters were allowed, with the qualification earlier Friday reducing the initial field of 65.

Both racers who won similar events last season, were missing.

Norway’s Rasmus Windingstad posted the 35th time in qualifying and failed to go through to the knockout stages, while Switzerland’s Loïc Meillard went into quarantine this week after testing positive for the coronavirus.

Also, Lucas Braathen, who won the season-opening giant slalom six weeks ago, missed the cut in qualifying, coming up seven hundredths short as he placed 18th.

Fastest in qualifying was Stefan Luitz, who was runner-up to Windingstad in the parallel event in Alta Badia, Italy, in December.

Luitz narrowly lost to Kristoffersen in the quarterfinals, and the German finished seventh.

Next on the men’s World Cup calendar are two giant slaloms in Santa Caterina Valfurva, Italy, next weekend. Those races have been moved from Val d’Isere due to a lack of snow in the French resort.

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