World Cup leader Pinturault fastest in 1st giant slalom run

ADELBODEN (Agencies): World Cup overall leader Alexis Pinturault took a commanding first-run lead in a giant slalom on Friday.

Pinturault, skiing first wearing the No. 1 bib, was 0.96 seconds faster than Marco Odermatt, who tops the season-long giant slalom standings.

Filip Zubcic was a further 0.01 back as the only other racer within a second of Pinturault on an icy and undulating Chuenisbargli course where the finish-line temperature was minus-6 degrees Celsius (21 Fahrenheit).

Tommy Ford of the United States was fourth, with 1.15 to make up on the French leader in the second run.

Adelboden can be a tough place to defend a lead. Most of the sunshine lighting the slope for the first run disappears behind the surrounding mountains by 2 p.m., when Pinturault will start.

The Swiss venue hosted its classic race in the first week of World Cup racing in January 1967, and is now staging giant slalom races on back-to-back days for the first time.

The Saturday race typically draws more than 25,000 noisy Swiss fans to the snow-covered cow pastures. No spectators can attend this year because of limits on mass gatherings in Switzerland during the coronavirus pandemic.

Pinturault won the previous giant slalom three weeks ago at Alta Badia, Italy, when Atle Lie McGrath was second. The 20-year-old Norway racer, who was born in Vermont, crashed off the course Friday into safety nets though did not appear to be injured.