Schwarz slaloms past Pinturault for world combined gold

Luke PHILLIPS
·3-min read
Marco Schwarz increased the Austrian men's hold on the world ski championships

Marco Schwarz made it three from three for the Austrian men as he laid down a near-perfect slalom run to claim alpine combined gold at the world championships in Cortina d'Ampezzo on Monday.

Schwarz clocked a combined total of 2min 05.86sec, finishing 0.04sec ahead of France's Alexis Pinturault, with Switzerland's Loic Meillard rounding out the podium just over a second behind the winner, having kept his nerve following a bad mistake.

"I'm really happy about that," said Schwarz, who had won combined bronze at the world championships in Are two years ago.

"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 was on my side. I'm pretty lucky and happy -- I did a great job!"

Schwarz said the slalom, the most technical of alpine ski races, had been "like a normal slalom, so (it was) pretty tough for the downhill guys!"

"The super-G was a little bit surprising for me today," he added. "I only had four days of super-G this year, so I was pretty lucky it went well today."

Turning to the Austrian men's dominance, Schwarz said: "We're pushing each other, the whole team works pretty well, the coaches are super fun to work with.

"To get a third gold medal at these world champs is pretty amazing."

- Pinturault frustrated -

After Schwarz's teammate Vincent Kriechmayr won both the super-G and downhill in Cortina for a first speed double since 2005, a third gold for Austria had looked like it might have been out of reach after the combined's opening super-G.

Pinturault, who won a surprise bronze in last week's super-G proper, posted the second fastest time in the opening run, with Schwarz 0.32sec down on the Frenchman.

Schwarz, however, nailed the fastest slalom run to pinch victory from the defending champion.

"To put it in context, second place in the world championships is a good fight," insisted Pinturault.

"It was a great battle. To lose by four hundredths of a second was a bit bizarre... a bit frustrating, especially at a world champs.

"It played out in a tight battle. I was second but you've got to take the positives: it's a second medal in two races."

Pinturault added: "I fought for gold today, I didn't get it, but I'll once again fight for gold in the giant slalom on Friday.

"I have three days of rest. That'll be important and is what can make the difference.

On an icy slalom track there were 11 skiers who failed to finish, including four who could realistically challenged for a podium placing.

Luca Aerni of Switzerland, the 2017 world champion who was in seventh at 0.53sec after the super-G, skied out as the top third of the slalom course was pitched into dark shadow as the sun rounded the Dolomite mountains.

Joining Aerni with an unwanted 'DNF' (did not finish) next to their names were fellow Swiss Gino Caviezel, Kriechmayr and his Austrian teammate Matthias Mayer.

lp/gj/iwd/gj