Alpine Skiing – World Cup Finals – Men’s Giant Slalom – Lenzerheide, Switzerland – March 20, 2021 France’s Alexis Pinturault in action REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

March 22, 2021

(Reuters) – France’s Alexis Pinturault celebrated his 30th birthday by winning the World Cup Alpine skiing giant slalom and overall crystal globes on Saturday.

The most successful French skier in World Cup history led after the first leg of the season’s final giant slalom in the Swiss resort of Lenzerheide and nailed his second run to win the race by 0.20 seconds.

Closest rival Marco Odermatt of Switzerland, who had led the giant slalom standings before Saturday’s race, finished 11th on the Silvano Beltrametti piste and ended 51 points behind Pinturault.

With only a slalom remaining and a maximum 100 points on offer, Pinturault — runner-up in the last two seasons — now has an unbeatable 1,200 points to Odermatt’s 1,093 in the overall standings.

“I worked so hard for so many years and now it feels really right that it’s paying off,” Pinturault told Eurosport television after his 34th career World Cup win.

“It was paying off before but claiming a globe and also the big globe at the same time is something really unbelievable that I was always searching for, pushing for.

“It was an especially hard year but crystal is always something special in our sport, and I’m really happy that I can bring it home.”

Pinturault will be the first French overall World Cup champion since Luc Alphand in 1997, and only the country’s third since the Cup started in 1967 when Jean-Claude Killy was the winner.

He was also the first French World Cup giant slalom champion since Frederic Covili in 2002.

Odermatt’s hopes of taking the overall title on home snow had receded already after the downhill and super-G races were cancelled earlier in the week due to bad weather.

Croatia’s Filip Zubcic was runner-up in Saturday’s race with France’s Mathieu Faivre third.

“It was snowing in the night and you are never sure if the number one is good or not,” said Pinturault, who was first out of the start hut. “So I just tried to push as hard as possible.

“The second run was really turny, and when you are coming to the end of the season it’s really tiring to make such a run, but at least I managed it.”

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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