French skier Noël opens slalom season with dominant victory


Frenchman Clément Noël competes in the first round of an alpine ski, the men’s World Cup slalom, in Val D’Isère, France, on Sunday, December 12, 2021. (AP Photo / Gabriele Facciotti)


French skier Clément Noël dominated the opening slalom of the World Cup season on Sunday for his ninth career victory as many other pre-race favorites faltered.

Noël challenged difficult course conditions on the Face de Bellevarde by setting the fastest time in both heats, finishing 1.40 seconds ahead of Kristoffer Jakobsen for the Swedish skier’s first career podium.

Filip Zubcic of Croatia was third at 1.85.

“It’s the best way to start the new season,” said Noël.

“For the first race, nobody knows if we are fast or not fast, and the real truth is the race. So today I know I can be fast and I have so much confidence in the future, ”he added.

Alex Vinatzer, who followed Christmas by just .12 after the first run, was disqualified in the second after the Italian lost his balance at the end of his run and walked through the final gate on the wrong side.

World slalom champion Sebastian Foss-Solevåg of Norway dropped from third to sixth after catching a bump and nearly skiing at the start of his second run.

The reigning champion Alexis Pinturault, double winner of the event, came out after the first round.

The Frenchman was already one second away from Christmas time at the second checkpoint of his first run and lost extra time on a tricky stretch near the bottom of the course to finish 2.90 behind, failing to enter the top 30 which qualifies for a second Course.

Marco Schwarz, who won the slalom season title last year, also failed to advance to the second round. Having missed weeks of training with an ankle injury, the Austrian was 2.53 ahead.

Austrian skier Adrian Pertl, a silver medalist at the World Slalom Championships last season, missed the race a day after the Austrian injured his right knee during a giant slalom. The Austrian Ski Federation said on Sunday Pertl needed surgery for an ACL tear and damaged meniscus.

Marco Odermatt, winner of the GS on Saturday but who does not evolve in slalom, remains at the top of the general classification.

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