Mathieu Faivre wins surprise giant slalom world title

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France’s Mathieu Faivre was the surprise world champion in the giant slalom after countryman Alexis Pinturault fell as the final racer in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, on Friday.

Faivre, whose best World Cup result since the start of 2020 is eighth, prevailed by .63 of a second over Italian Luca de Aliprandini, who has never made a World Cup podium.

Austrian Marco Schwarz, the world’s top slalom skier, took bronze after winning the combined on Monday.

Worlds continue Saturday with Mikaela Shiffrin going for a record-extending fifth consecutive slalom world title.

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Pinturault led by four tenths over De Aliprandini after the first of two runs and appeared ready to become first French man to win an Olympic or world GS title since Jean-Claude Killy in 1968.

“Some more goals to achieve this winter and [another] race on Sunday is coming,” was posted on Pinturault’s Instagram with a congrats to Faivre and the hashtag #WhatDoesntKillYouMakeYouStronger.

Pinturault, the world’s top-ranked overall skier, took giant slalom bronze at the Olympics or worlds in 2014, 2015, 2018 and 2019.

Instead, it’s the less-heralded Faivre to join Killy. Faivre also won Tuesday’s parallel giant slalom, an event that’s not on the Olympic program.

“I can’t believe it,” Faivre said. “I’m a bit kind of sad for Alexis.”

Faivre was sent home from the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics by the French team for an apparent lack of team spirit. The dismissal came after he didn’t seem happy about Pinturault winning a medal at the Games and was quoted as saying, “I’m here to race for myself only.”

Norwegian Henrik Kristoffersen, the 2019 World GS champion, was out of it after placing 15th in the opening run and ended up ninth. Another GS medal favorite, Swiss Marco Odermatt, skied out in his first run.

The lone American in the field, 23-year-old River Radamus, placed 11th. Radamus, the 2019 World junior champion in the GS and super-G, is competing at his first worlds.

The U.S. missed the injured Ted LigetyTommy Ford and Ryan Cochran-Siegle.

Ligety, who won the Olympic GS on this date seven years ago, hoped to make this his final career race, but announced last week a chronic back injury forced him into retirement at 36.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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