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Pinturault rallies from 4th to win GS, Kristoffersen 7th

GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany (AP) — Alexis Pinturault became the first skier this season to win two men’s World Cup giant slaloms, triumphing on the Kandahar 2 course Sunday to end a series of disappointing results in his strongest discipline.

The Frenchman won the season-opener in October but placed 17th, eighth and 10th respectively in the next three GS events. On Sunday, he was 0.18 seconds off the lead in fourth before posting the third-fastest time in the second run and beat first-run leader Loic Meillard by 0.16. The Swiss skier matched his career best result by finishing second.

The win came five days after Pinturault came runner-up in a night slalom in Schladming. “The last two races were good,” Pinturault said. “Since December, I didn’t ski well. It was a long January for me. But we worked a lot and today it was finally very good.”

It was Pinturault’s 27th career win and 13th in giant slalom. He also won four bronze medals in the discipline at major events - two at the Olympics, two at world championships. The three giant slaloms between Pinturault’s triumphs had three different winners, with American Tommy Ford in Beaver Creek, Norway’s Henrik Kristoffersen in Alta Badia, and Slovenia’s Zan Kranjec in Adelboden.

On Sunday, Kristoffersen dropped from second behind Meillard after the opening run to seventh, and Kranjec finished fifth to hold on to his lead in the discipline standings, closely followed by Kristoffersen and Pinturault.

The Norwegian remained in the lead of the overall standings with 877 points, while second-place Pinturault closed the gap to 55 points. Aleksander Aamodt Kilde was two more points behind in third, after the Norwegian finished Sunday’s race in sixth.

“For me it was a very good day,” Pinturault said. “I saw Kilde was also good, Henrik was maybe a bit less today but it is a strong competition.” Leif Kristian Nestvold-Haugen of Norway was 0.24 behind in third for his fourth career podium result, while Filip Zubcic placed fourth after the Croatian timed the fastest second run.

Manuel Feller finished 28th and was the only Austrian to score points as the Austrian ski team had their worst result in a men’s GS in the 53-year history of the World Cup. “It’s hard to find an explanation right after the race but I think the guys are putting themselves under too much pressure,” head coach Andreas Puelacher said.

The Austrian ski team has got only two podium results in 14 tech races so far in the first season after the retirement of record eight-time overall champion Marcel Hirscher. Sunday's race took place on a shortened course, which reduced run times to just over a minute. Organizers lowered the start gate after overnight rain had affected the course on the upper part for the slope.

The next men’s World Cup races are a slalom and parallel giant slalom, in Chamonix, France.

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