Alexis Pinturault of France used a daring second run to win a World Cup giant slalom Sunday as his closest German challengers faltered in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
Pinturault was second after the first heat, behind hometown favourite Felix Neureuther and ahead of Fritz Dopfer. But Dopfer crashed out in the second run and Neureuther made a mistake that dropped him down in the standings. Germany was seeking its first men's giant slalom victory in 40 years.
World Cup leader Marcel Hirscher of Austria and world champion Ted Ligety of the United States profited from the Germans' mistakes to take second and third, respectively.
Pinturault clocked a combined time of two minutes, 32.42 seconds for his second win of the season and his first giant slalom victory.
"I have good memories from Garmisch, I also won the junior giant slalom title here in 2009," said Pinturault, who now has three career World Cup victories.
Hirscher overcame a stomach virus to extend his overall World Cup lead. He was 0.60 seconds behind the winner and Ligety was 0.63 back.
Ligety, the GS specialist who also won two other gold medals at the worlds in Schladming, Austria that concluded a week ago, was fifth after an error-filled first run. The American also made a mistake in the second heat, losing his line at the same spot where Neureuther nearly went off the course.
Ligety had won four of the previous five giant slaloms this season and would have set a record with a fifth victory. He has two third-place finishes and leads the giant slalom standings by 105 points over Hirscher. A win is worth 100 points and there are two races remaining.
"Third place is not what you want to be getting at this stage, but I'll take it," Ligety said. "In the first run I just made a ton of little mistakes. In the second I was lucky not to get into too much soft snow in that turn. You have to take risks."
Hirscher, who was silver medallist at the worlds behind Ligety, now has a 209-point lead overall over Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway, who finished sixth.
"It's looking good now," said Hirscher, the defending overall champion. "I think I earned big points today. I have to stay consistent, then everything is possible,"
Pinturault, a specialist in technical races, had a disappointing run at the world championships where he failed to medal despite consistently finishing in the top six.
"I learned a lot from that and I wanted to do well here," Pintaurault said after giving France its first giant slalom win in two years. His previous wins had come in a slalom and a parallel slalom.
Dopfer clipped a gate and crashed, while Neureuther veered off the line in a turn, nearly went off the course and lost speed to come in 12th.
He is the son of 1976 Olympic downhill and slalom champion Rosi Mittermaier and Christian Neureuther, a World Cup winner, and the family lives in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
"That was a stupid mistake and I am really upset," said Neureuther, who was slalom silver medallist behind Hirscher at the worlds.