Though only 22, Alexis Pinturault is one of the world’s leading skiers in a number of disciplines. His inexorable climb to the top will now take him to the resort of Rosa Khutor, the venue for the Alpine skiing events at Sochi 2014, where he will be vying for several medals.
Hailing from Courchevel, where his father runs a hotel, Alexis Pinturault is French Alpine skiing’s brightest hope. A world junior giant slalom champion in 2009, he made his World Cup debut as an 18-year-old that same season and was soon figuring among the best in slalom, giant slalom, super G and super combined. By the time he turned 22, he had already scored four wins on the FIS circuit, while also finishing in the top six in every event bar the downhill at the 2013 World Championships in Schladming, a remarkable performance that the ambitious young skier admitted to being slightly disappointed with.
Looking ahead to his first Winter Games next February, Pinturault said: “To my mind there’s no bigger event in a sportsperson’s career. Everyone watches and follows the Games.” But he won’t be doing anything special to prepare for Sochi. . “Even though it’s an amazing occasion, I don’t see any reason why I should go about my training differently,” he says “That said, I’ll obviously need to approach the Games in the right way to be in good shape for my events. I need to be aware of what to expect there. We’ll be in big demand and there’ll be a lot of media attention. I’ll need to keep things in perspective and know exactly what I’m there for, which is to ski and nothing else.”
An all-round talent
A runner-up to the USA’s Ted Ligety in the giant slalom at this season’s opening FIS World Cup event at Solden in late October, Pinturault has several strings to his bow and the skills to shine in both the technical and speed events. . “I’m still not fast enough in super G, but I’m thinking of competing in three events at Sochi (slalom, giant slalom and super combined),” he explained. “I don’t see why I shouldn’t give myself as many chances as I can to win medals. I don’t really have a favourite event and I’ve had several podium finishes in each of them, though I’ve had more in giant slalom than in any other. Downhill and super G are the two in which I can improve the most.”
Pinturault identified the healthy competition in the France team as one of the factors that has expedited his progress: “It pushes us all on and we all try to make the most of being around each other.” As for the challenge that lies ahead at Sochi, he is keeping his approach simple: “I don’t have any specific objectives this season. My only goal is to do as well as I possibly can in each race and just take each one as it comes; step by step, as they say.”
Blessed with a cool head, sound technique, searing pace and nerves of steel, Pinturault is making steady progress towards the summit of world skiing, and has shown he has what it takes to be in the mix for the medals when the world’s skiing elite assembles in Sochi.