Faivre saves gold for France as Pinturault falters in GS


CORTINA D’AMPEZZO, Italy — Mathieu Faivre seemed somewhat uncomfortable during the winner’s ceremony.

Standing between the silver and bronze medalists after winning the giant slalom at the skiing world championships on Friday, the Frenchman kept looking over his shoulder back toward the course.

Faivre was trying to get a glimpse of Alexis Pinturault, his teammate and the pre-race favorite for gold.

Pinturault, however, was still high up on the hill, trying to deal with what had just happened.

“I am kind of sad for Alexis, of course. It would have been amazing to be both on the podium,” Faivre said. “It was not so easy to enjoy it. But for sure I am really proud of it. I am really proud of my team, of my mindset.”

Pinturault, the last starter in the final run after holding a big first-leg lead, skied out after seven gates, losing a perfect chance to finally win gold in the discipline at a major event after four bronze medals from Olympics and previous worlds.

Faivre’s reaction to his teammate’s circumstances on Friday was quite different from three years ago.

He was sent home from the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics by the French team for an apparent lack of team spirit. Faivre 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.”

On Friday, Luca de Aliprandini took silver for home nation Italy’s first medal in the men’s events. Marco Schwarz, the winner of Monday’s combined event, earned bronze for Austria’s 300th worlds medal overall.

Faivre buried his face in his hands once Pinturault faltered, and De Aliprandini hugged him.

“I am good friends with Mathieu,” the Italian said. “We are good colleagues, grew up together racing in the European Cup at the same time.”

De Aliprandini’s girlfriend, women’s combined bronze medalist Michelle Gisin of Switzerland, ran into the mixed zone to take pictures.

Faivre’s victory came three days after his triumph in the giant slalom-like parallel event.

“It feels unreal right now, I can’t believe it,” Faivre said. “The gold in parallel was already really, really amazing. But to be honest, gold in GS (is another level).”

Faivre has seven GS podiums on the World Cup circuit, including one win in Italy in 2016. However, he only had one top-10 result in six races this season.

“I feel really good on my skis since a month or five weeks,” he said. “The most important was to fight, to believe in it.”

Pinturault certainly believed he was on his way to gold with an eye-catching opening run. The fourth racer on a course set by French coach Fabien Munier, Pinturault won time at every split before he finished 2.12 seconds ahead of then-leader Filip Zubcic of Croatia.

Ultimately, Pinturault led Luca De Aliprandini of Italy by 0.40 seconds.

The only other racers who won a GS this season struggled in the first run.

Marco Odermatt slid away on his inside ski in a right turn and skied through the next gate, becoming one of three Swiss skiers in the top 15 who failed to finish their opening run. And Zubcic improved from 11th after the opening run to fourth, missing the podium by 0.72 seconds.

In what was meant to be Ted Ligety’s farewell race, River Radamus finished a career best 11th as the only starter for the American team, with Tommy Ford and Ryan Cochran-Siegle out for the season with injuries.

Ligety announced his retirement last week, but a back issue prevented “Mr. GS” from racing one more time on Friday.

Radamus said he was in touch with Ligety “a couple of days ago.”

“He gave me a couple of words just for inspiration,” Radamus said. “I’m skiing for him, skiing for all the other boys.”

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