Pinturault leads in giant slalom, nears WCup overall title


LENZERHEIDE, Switzerland — Alexis Pinturault made a big move toward winning his first overall World Cup title in Alpine skiing by leading the opening run of a giant slalom on Saturday.

Wearing bib No. 1 on his 30th birthday, Pinturault started with a small points lead over his closest challenger Marco Odermatt, who likely will skip the the season-ending slalom on Sunday.

Pinturault set a target time no one could approach on the changeable snow conditions, and left Odermatt trailing by a huge 1.66-second margin in 10th place.

If those positions hold after the second run in the afternoon, Pinturault will win the overall title and the season-long giant slalom standings currently led by Odermatt.

“I skied very badly,” Odermatt told Swiss broadcaster RTS. “I think the snow was not easy today and Alexis did very well. It’s very difficult to attack like that.”

Pinturault finished his run with a rueful look on his face as if unsure how fast his skiing had been.

It ended up 0.81 faster than Stefan Brennsteiner and 1.04 ahead of third-placed Filip Zubcic.

Race wins earn 100 points and Pinturault began the day leading Odermatt by 31 in the overall standings. Odermatt would get just 26 from 10th place.

Odermatt’s 25-point lead over Pinturault in the giant slalom standings is also at risk.

Pinturault was runner-up overall in the past two seasons and also had three third-place finishes when now-retired Austrian great Marcel Hirscher was winning a record eight straight titles.

Pinturault would be the first French overall champion in 24 years since Luc Alphand won. The only other Frenchman to win was Jean Claude-Killy, in the first two seasons after the World Cup circuit started in 1967.

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