Olympic champion Clément Noël, fastest in the first run, came off the track in the second run of the Chamonix World Cup slalom on Saturday, missing a great opportunity for a double before the Courchevel / Méribel Worlds which start on Monday.
The Swiss Ramon Zenhäusern won ahead of AJ Ginnis, the first Greek on a World Cup podium, and another Swiss, Daniel Yule.
Winner of the last slalom in Schladming (Austria) last week, Clément Noël had a superb opportunity to gain confidence under the Chamonix sun. Best time of the first route, the Vosgien started last with victory in sight and a huge margin to ensure a new podium.
But as caught up in his recurring problems with regularity, Noël was quickly thrown off balance by a tricky course, leaving the track at the top of the “Verte des Houches”, where he had already triumphed twice (2020 and 2021).
This winter, in eight slaloms, the 25-year-old skier came out four times, for two “average” results (6th and 8th), a 3rd place in Garmisch (Germany) and a victory in Schladming.
Not ideal statistics before the big meeting of the season, the Courchevel / Méribel World Championships, which start on Monday. The men’s slalom will conclude the fortnight on February 19.
A similar irregularity, however, did not prevent him from being crowned Olympic champion last winter in Beijing.
– Ginnis, the “Greek Freez” –
The first victory of the season of the Swiss giant Ramon Zenhäusern (2.02 m) was eclipsed on Saturday by the exploit of the Greek AJ Ginnis.
A “second zone” skier at the world level, rarely qualified in the second round of slaloms, Ginnis knew how to make his 45 number bib grow (the best wear the smallest bibs) by smashing the second round to clinch the first Greek podium in alpine skiing.
Born of an American mother and a Greek father, Ginnis grew up in Greece and learned to ski on the slopes of Mount Parnassus, says the specialized American site skiracing.com on the occasion of a portrait.
After a stint in Austria, a ski country, Ginnis followed his parents to the United States at the age of 15, quickly joining the American team with convincing results on the North American circuit, a sort of 2nd world division.
But the 28-year-old skier has seen his career slowed down and cut short by six knee operations, the latest in August 2021 following a ruptured cruciate ligament in his right knee, depriving him of the Olympic dream in Beijing, where he ended up go as a consultant for NBC.
Representing Greece since 2020, Ginnis had scored the first points in the history of his country for the World Cup in January 2021 in Flachau (Austria) with an 11th place.
He had already shown himself at ease this winter with a 20th place at the start of January in Adelboden (Switzerland).
In the shadow of Christmas, the young French failed to qualify in the second round. Alexis Pinturault had decided to ignore the race to better prepare for the Worlds which he attacks on Tuesday with the combined in his Courchevel station.