Pinturault beats unheralded McGrath to win giant slalom in Alta Badia

Alexis Pinturault held off a challenge from unheralded Norwegian skier Atle Lie McGrath to win the classic men’s World Cup giant slalom on the Gran Risa course Sunday in Alta Badia, Italy.

After leading the first run, the Frenchman mastered the steep and technically demanding course in the Italian Alps for a second time to beat McGrath by seven hundredths.

Pinturault’s teammate Justin Murisier finished 0.24 seconds behind in third for the Frenchman’s first career podium result.

Marco Odermatt and Filip Zubcic were in the top three after the opening run but dropped to fourth and 10th, respectively.

McGrath, who had not finished in the top 10 in 13 previous starts, was born in Vermont. He is the son of Felix McGrath, a World Cup skier for the US ski team in the 1980s and 90s.

When Atle Lie was two years old, the family moved to Norway, the home country of his mother, the former cross-country skier Selma Lie.

Wearing bib 29, the 20-year-old McGrath surprised by posting the fourth fastest time in the first run, and he managed to improve on that by taking the lead in the second.

Pinturault started his final run with a buffer of 0.46 seconds over the Norwegian, but lost time at nearly every check point before narrowly holding on to his lead.

Pinturault gathered 15 of his 31 career World Cup wins in GS, but Sunday’s result marked his first podium in the discipline this season.

The four races so far had four different winners, with Lucas Braathen, Zubcic, and Odermatt triumphing in the previous races.

Braathen, a 20-year-old teammate of McGrath’s, finished 18th.

The win saw Pinturault return to the top of the overall standings, one point clear of defending overall champion Aleksander Aamodt Kilde.

Pinturault lost his lead in the rankings to Kilde after the Norwegian posted back-to-back wins in speed races in nearby Val Gardena on Friday and Saturday.

Pinturault trailed Kilde by 54 points last season, when the remaining six races were cancelled because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The men’s World Cup remains in Italy for slaloms in Alta Badia on Monday and Madonna di Campiglio on Tuesday.