Courtesy of Red Bull Content Pool
A profile of Frenchman Pinturault as he wins the first race of the season.
He has been billed as the skier with “dynamite in his legs”, and Alexis Pinturault got off to an explosive start to his 2017 World Cup campaign at the opening race in Sölden at the weekend.
From start to finish, he dominated with the quickest times over both runs of the giant slalom to beat among others, Marcel Hirscher, the World Cup champion for the giant slalom for three of the five past seasons and bidding for a sixth overall crown at the end of the current campaign.
Pinturault said that hearing La Marseillaise (the French national anthem) play out as he stood with Hirscher and Felix Neureuther either side of him was the perfect way to get his season under way.
For Dad Claude, he is aware his 25-year-old son may have actually appreciated not facing defeat more than the actual triumph.
In an interview, Pinturault Sr said: “Alex can’t stand losing. I think he’s good because he hates losing. It’s not so much that he likes winning… it’s that he doesn’t like losing.”
His parents talk of the frustrations of their young son as he struggled initially to get the better of his friends on the local slopes in Courchevel – he first began skiing aged two on the Pralong slope off the family’s five-star Hotel Annapurna in Courchevel 1850 – let alone contemplate taking on the world’s best in the years to come.
His Norwegian mother, Hege – her son is proud of his duel nationality describing himself as French-Norwegian – believes he was always destined to ski, experiencing the slopes for the first time in her womb.
And the Pinturault parents have no shortage of family videos of one of their sons attempting to tackle the slopes but invariably falling, or experiencing a similar outcome at the local ice rink.
But the wins gradually came against friends and foes alike, culminating in him twice becoming a junior world champion for the giant slalom in 2009 and again 2011. While still in the junior ranks, he made his senior debut in the World Cup in Are, Sweden, a week shy of his 18th birthday.
But it was not until March 2011 in Kranjska Gora that he enjoyed his first podium finish, a first victory coming a year later in Moscow.
After Sölden, he now boasts 16 World Cup wins and counting, and has three times won the combined end-of-season world title.
While Hirscher remains the dominant overall force, for the past three years Pinturault has finished third in the overall standings but is not satisfied with such an outcome.
“I want to make history in my sport,” he says and works tirelessly in that quest, regularly showing pictures and footage of him being put through his paces in training from leaping high hurdles to lifting big weights in the gym.
His fellow countryman for the past few seasons in the World Cup, Julien Lizeroux says of his teammate: “He’s got dynamite in his legs,” and it is that explosiveness that has enabled him to win across a variety of disciplines.
His proud father adds: “He’s the full package, he’s just totally aware of his body with regards to space.”
There has been no shortage of successes on the biggest stage, including bronze in the giant slalom – his No.1 event – at the last Olympics and the 2015 World Championships, for the all-round sportsman.
On his personal website, he boasts pictures of him playing golf, surfing and playing tennis, although the latter may be on hold having damaged ankle ligaments on court in 2012, which thereby curtailed his season start. On the sporting front, he toyed with becoming a professional footballer and calls it his “special talent”.
Of his own skiing prowess, his motto is to “trust his instincts” and “puts thinking to one side” at each and every World Cup race.
In his mind, he takes with him the motto passed on to him by his father in his early years “that you have to win to earn respect”.
As the only World Cup winner, he takes that with him in droves to the next round of the season in Levi, Finland on November 13.