Alexis Pinturault wins World Cup slalom in Switzerland
Rallies from 7th-fastest after 1st run
Alexis Pinturault of France soared from seventh place after the first run to win a World Cup slalom on Sunday in Wegen, Switzerland.
Pinturault was almost a half-second faster than everyone else in the afternoon to finish 0.34 ahead of Felix Neureuther of Germany. First-run leader Marcel Hirscher of Austria was third, trailing 0.63 behind Pinturault's total time of 1 minute 42.87 seconds.
Despite his precocious talent, the 22-year-old Pinturault had failed to complete five straight slalom events until taking a 23rd place one week ago at nearby Adelboden.
Pinturault said his victory was "a relief."
"It was especially a reward and satisfaction after a difficult time that I've had at the beginning of the season," he said. "That can happen to anyone. I knew what I was capable of. I knew that I could go faster."
Neureuther said the Pinturault was "the right winner today. I definitely have to watch his second run on TV again."
Hirscher, the two-time defending overall World Cup champion, almost skied out near the end of his second run.
He missed a chance to regain the standings lead from Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway, who skips slalom events. Svindal leads by 22 points.
"It was a stupid mistake" before a flat section, said Hirscher, who did extend his lead in the slalom discipline standings over teammate Mario Matt, who was fourth Sunday.
Bode Miller placed 26th, trailing Pinturault by 2.98, to earn his first World Cup points in slalom since December 2011. Then, he placed 27th at Beaver Creek, Colorado.
Pinturault's fifth career World Cup win was his second in slalom. The previous one was a December 2012 race at Val d'Isere, France, with the same 1-2-3 on the podium.
Pinturault used the 100 World Cup points for victory to rise above Ted Ligety of the United States into third place overall.
Ligety, who beat Pinturault into second place to win Friday's super-combined, finished outside the top-30 placings in the morning and did not qualify for a second run.
"There wasn't much I could do there, I got a little stuck on my skis," said Ligety, who lost his race line and hiked back to make a gate.
Ligety said wryly he could at least make an early exit from Wengen, and start travelling to the next World Cup stop in Kitzbuehel, Austria. Naoki Yuasa of Japan crashed out and took some time to arrive at the finish. Yuasa, who placed fourth two weeks ago at Bormio, Italy, limped from the course with an apparent right knee injury.