CLÉMENT NOËL CLAIMS VICTORY SATURDAY JANUARY 30, 2021
One year later, Clément Noël is on the first step of the podium again...
Clément Noël signs his 7th World Cup slalom victory in Chamonix, his first success of the season. The Frenchman, third in the first round, beat the Swiss Ramon Zenhaeusern and the Austrian Marco Schwarz.
These are toughs conditions that the organizers as well as the riders had to face this Saturday, January 30, on the Verte des Houches. With rain that has been falling for several days and that decided to intensify at the beginning of the first race, the challenge was big for everyone. A striking contrast between the competition of 2020 with an overheated atmosphere and lots of sunshine, and this first slalom of the weekend behind closed doors under heavy rain. But this didn't stop the 69 riders who fought a battle with intense suspense, just like the slaloms of this season.
On the first run, which was marked by Austrian Paul Schwarzacher, the riders didn't find good sensations because it was so twisty. 4 French riders qualified for the 2nd round, among them Jean-Baptiste Grange in extremis with a 30th place.
In ambush were Alexis Pinturault, 8th at 88 hundredths and Victor Muffat Jeandet, 11th at 1sec24.
Clément Noël was in 3rd place... 3 hundredths behind Marco Schwarz, leader of this first race in 50sec 70. Winner last year, Clément was already showing his ambitions on this track that he likes very much.
The weather conditions had taken over the ice on the track, so that the second race was going to be complicated for the last bibbers. On the other hand, the first riders to take off could hope for a good comeback. First starter of this second race, Jean-Baptiste Grange was unfortunately not able to take advantage of this opportunity, victim of a small mistake. Opposite scenario for the Swiss rider Luca Aerni who took an incredible climb from 29th to 4th place, thus signing the best time of the second race.
Alexis Pinturault managed to hold on to the 8th place he had gained in the first race, whereas Victor Muffat Jeandet was dropped to 14th place.
As for the leading trio that had a comfortable lead, an exciting elbow to elbow was played out! In the end, it was finally Clément Noël, winner on this same course last year, who took the victory 16 hundredths ahead of the Swiss Ramon Zenhaeusern and 19 hundredths ahead of the Austrian Marco Schwarz, current leader of the slalom world cup.
Clément Noël (FRA), winner :
"I don't know if it's me who loves Chamonix or if it's the other way round but it's true that I won here when I was young and this is my second world cup victory on this slope so... I feel good in Chamonix even in the rain!
I took a maximum of risks so my second run wasn't perfect but I didn't have the choice because generally I'm not very good in these conditions. This day boosts my confidence and I am enjoying it without thinking about tomorrow. At the hotel I will have to calm down, concentrate and prepare myself for this second day. "
Ramon Zenhaeusern (SUI), 2nd
"I went full attack, I had no choice! Today I took a bit more risks than in the other races and I am proud to be on this podium. The conditions were not easy but skiing is an outdoor sport: we train and run often in difficult conditions. And as far as I am concerned, I prefer rain in temperatures of - 30°C! And I love water skiing! I'm looking forward to concluding this month of slalom races here in Chamonix tomorrow ! "
Marco Schwarz (AUT), 3rd :
"The second round was one of the hardest for me this year. I knew that I had to go hard because the other two were just a few hundredths behind. I attacked and despite a small mistake in the middle it went pretty well, I am happy to be on the podium. "
A word from Fred Comte, director of the Chamonix Sports Club
"The hard preparatory work done by the teams for more than a month has paid off and allowed us to get out on a correct track today. Despite the weather conditions that weren't in our favour, we were able to react quickly and take good decisions in the last 2 days. This morning, at 6 o'clock, we reworked the track again after the temperatures of the night. If the rain is very annoying for the riders, we have seen some nice surprises with the nice comeback of Luca Aerni, who has benefited from good conditions at the moment of his passage! A big thank you to all the professionals and the 600 volunteers who worked on the track and who helped throughout the weekend for the good progress of the races! "
A word from Michel Vion, President of the French Ski Federation
"In spite of the sanitary context and the weather, when a Frenchman wins, it's a really nice day even if it rains! It is above all a beautiful reward for everyone and especially for the valley of Chamonix-Mont-Blanc which invested itself and produced an enormous amount of work. Chamonix is once again becoming an unavoidable event, we know it and we are counting on it. Just 15 000 spectators were missing..."
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