Schwarz pips Pinturault to claim men's combined gold

CORTINA D’AMPEZZO, Italy (Reuters) – Austrian Marco Schwarz won the men’s combined event at the alpine skiing world championships to claim his maiden global title on Monday.

The 25-year-old, fifth after the morning’s super-G, produced a clean run in the slalom to pip defending champion and pre-race favourite Alexis Pinturault of France, the overall World Cup leader, by 0.04 second.

Swiss Loic Meillard made a big mistake in the slalom as he ended up with the bronze medal, 1:12 off the pace.

“”I’m really happy about that. The super-G was fun in the morning and this afternoon it was pretty close with Alexis on an icy course,” said Schwarz.

“I was focusing on myself and I did a great job.”

On a slalom course designed by their coach, the Swiss racers disappointed, with 2017 combined champion Luca Aerni skiing out after a few gates.

Vincent Kriechmayr, who claimed the downhill and super-G golds last week, also glided out in the slalom run, but Schwarz made sure the title would go to the Austrians.

After an aggressive start, the slalom World Cup leader stayed in control to add to his combined and slalom bronze medals from the 2019 world championships.

Canadian James Crawford, who sprung a surprise by clocking the best time in the super-G, limited the damage in the slalom leg but had to settle for fourth, 0:21 off a podium finish.

“You have to put things in perspective. It was a tight event and a great fight between several athletes,” said Pinturault, who returned to his training location in Reiteralm, Austria after clinching the bronze medal last week.

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“Today is a second medal, it’s good, and I have to build on that. Of course losing by four hundredths of a second hurts a little bit but my world championships are not finished.”

Pinturault will be the main favourite in the giant slalom on Friday as he leads the World Cup standings in the discipline, and will also gun for another medal in Sunday’s slalom with another duel with Schwarz looming.

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