Europe 1 with AFP / Photo credit: SEAN M. HAFFEY / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / GETTY IMAGES VIA AFP 19:40 p.m. on December 01, 2023At the age of 32, the skier from Courchevel is embarking on a new project: competing in all the downhills and abandoning the slalom. The first stage takes place this weekend in Beaver Creek in the United States, where all the speed specialists are gathered. "A technical descent, very beautiful, a little underestimated in terms of fame," he said.
After the cancellation of the events in Zermatt-Cervinia (Switzerland/Italy), the speed specialists, including Frenchman Alexis Pinturault, a new enthusiast, start their season in Beaver Creek in the United States from Friday to Sunday. The men's Alpine Skiing World Cup got off to a rocky start two weeks ago in Gurgl, Austria, with a slalom won by Austria's Manuel Feller, after the opening giant slalom in Sölden, Austria, was cancelled at the end of October, followed by the Zermatt/Cervinia events in early November due to the weather.
The big cats are to be released starting Friday in Colorado on the "Birds of Prey" trail. Swiss skiing genius Marco Odermatt, crushing overall winner in the spring, has to carve out his first turns of the winter. The downhill world champion is obviously one of the favourites for both downhill and super-G. But the Nidwalden star has yet to win a downhill on the World Cup circuit, thanks in part to Norway's Aleksander Aamodt Kilde, who won the last four races at Beaver Creek, including two ahead of Odermatt last year.
The most famous "classics" of the circuit
Frenchman Alexis Pinturault is not expected to be on the podium in both downhills, but the 32-year-old skier from Courchevel is launching his new project in the Rockies: he will now compete in all the downhills and abandon the slalom. Pinturault has been wearing out his speed skis in the nearby resort of Copper Mountain since 10 November, having decided to skip Zermatt-Cervinia anyway. "We were able to enjoy it, five days of downhill, five days of super-G, a lot of kilometres, it was good, quality in great conditions," he told AFP.
READ ALSO - Winter Olympics 2030: Will there be enough snow in the French Alps?
"I made progress, yes, but it was easy to make progress. Now I have to be able to set them up on the competition tracks," noted the 1 world number 2021. Versatile since his debut in 2009, "Pintu" has already competed in nine World Cup downhills, often to get his bearings for the super-G he loves (double world bronze medallist). But never with the ultimate goal of winning a sixth different discipline, the one that offers the most famous "classics" on the circuit (Kitzbühel, Wengen, Bormio).
"A top 20 would be nice"
He had competed in a downhill at Beaver Creek last winter, but was "limited, due to lack of training, I wasn't comfortable on my skis." "Beaver Creek is a technical descent, very beautiful, a little underrated in terms of fame. You can have fun there, push the curves and you're less scared than in Bormio or Kitzbühel," he says. "A successful run for me would be to score points (in the top 30), let's say a top 20 would be nice."
Pinturault has been accompanied since the spring by two new coaches: Austrian Martin Sprenger, who coached his best compatriots for eight years in sprint, and a former teammate from Pinturault's younger years, Maxime Tissot. "Martin brought his eye, his expertise, but also his experience on safety and his network of relationships with the resorts, which helps with the training slots. It has certainly allowed me to progress more quickly," said the Frenchman. Despite his status, Pinturault, with no references or points in the downhill, finds himself competing with four other Frenchmen for three places at the start on Friday, in addition to the five teammates automatically selected. On Tuesday, he set the ninth fastest time in official training, and is in line for selection.