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Cortina d’Ampezzo (BL), 15 February 2021 – Austria’s supremacy at the Cortina 2021 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships continued on Monday: following Vincent Kriechmayr’s speed double, Marco Schwarz (AUT) won the Alpine combined in style, pushing pre-race favourite Alexis Pinturault (FRA) into second place.
Schwarz, a technical specialist who currently leads the World Cup rankings in the slalom, produced a solid super-G to put himself in fifth place going into the second race.
Lying just 0.40 seconds behind surprise leader James Crawford (CAN), and 0.32s behind Pinturault, the Austrian then put in a dynamic performance to finish 0.04s ahead of the Frenchman.
“I’m really happy about that,” Schwarz said. “Super-G was pretty fun in the morning and then it was a pretty tough slalom today. It was really icy, then it was pretty close to Alexis – four hundredths. But it was on my side, so I am lucky and happy. That’s sport and I did a great job.”
An error on a single tricky slalom gate cost the French favourite, who was well positioned before the run having completed the second-fastest super-G.
“Second place in a World Championships is good,” Pinturault said. “It was a great battle. After bronze in the super-G and two good races today, a silver medal is good but, naturally, four hundredths of a second is very tough.”
Loic Meillard (SUI), who was placed sixth after the super-G, clawed back up to third thanks to an excellent slalom – marred only by an error on the same gate as Pinturault’s. Meillard finished 1.12s behind Schwarz.
“I knew it would be a close battle and my goal was to give it 100 per cent,” Meillard said. “I’m a little bit frustrated about the mistake that I made but I’m happy with the bronze medal.”
Crawford will perhaps be the second-happiest man on the day. Not an experienced top-level slalom racer, he nevertheless finished fourth overall with a respectable performance on the short skis to end up just 1.33s behind.
His run on the super-G, however, suggests a great future. The 23-year-old from Toronto, currently ranked 23rd in the World Cup super-G, finished ahead of Pinturault, Kriechmayr, Matthias Mayer (AUT) and the rest of speed skiing’s royalty.
“The snow here and the style of the hills is a lot like the hills in Canada so it definitely felt a lot more like home,” he said. “Pushing out of the gate it was pure confidence. (I) didn’t have a worry in the world, and with the high bib number it made it easy to just send it.”
It was not a great day for some of the big names, however. Mayer did not finish the slalom, continuing a frustrating Championships for the Austrian, while Kjetil Jansrud (NOR) flew home after sustaining an injury in the super-G leg.
The men’s racing continues tomorrow with the parallel giant slalom.