French skier Allègre beats World Cup super-G favorites to claim first career victory

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French skier Nils Allegre claimed his first career World Cup victory on Saturday as two late starters surprised the top-ranked favorites in a tight super-G on the classic Kandahar course.

Wearing bib 18, Allegre beat Guglielmo Bosca by 0.18 seconds after the Italian finished and spent two minutes hoping for what would have been his first victory.

Jeff Read of Canmore, Alta., finished 20th as the top Canadian. Cameron Alexander finished 23rd and James Crawford 25th.

Allegre and Bosca, both 30-year veterans of the alpine ski circuit, denied the Swiss team a one-two finish. Loïc Meillard led season dominator Marco Odermatt by 0.03 after the top 10 super-G riders completed their races.

“It was great, it was like something was coming out of me,” Allegre said through tears in an interview on the sidelines of the course when asked when he finished. “I’m 30 years old, it’s my 102nd start today, so… I’ve never stopped believing in myself and today everything (went) in the right direction.”

The Frenchman had never finished better than fourth before, including in a downhill at Val Gardena last December, when we were knocked off the podium when American rider Bryce Bennett took victory with a late start.

“It’s a good day, I had a perfect feeling on my ski from top to bottom, I feel really confident on it, I can push a lot,” Allegre said.

World Cup leader Odermatt’s fourth place ended his streak of 12 consecutive super-G podiums, a feat previously achieved only by Austrian great Hermann Maier two decades ago. No male skier has ever finished in the top three in 13 consecutive super-Gs.

“A weird race today with a little time difference,” Odermatt said. “It’s because it was a very, very easy and short super-G, a simple course. In these conditions, you can’t tell the difference anywhere.”

Allègre continues the good run of the French team, led by Cyprien Sarrazin, in the men’s speed events this season.

“We are one team”

In his peak speed season, former giant slalom specialist Sarrazin won a downhill in Bormio in December and two in Kitzbühel last week. In Wengen he was twice runner-up and won the super-G. On Saturday, he finished 0.64 behind Allegre and outside the top 10.

“We get a good result for everyone in the team. This way we try to continue and attack more and more,” Allegre said. “We are one team and that really helps us on good days but also on bad days.”

After days of rain and mild temperatures, the course, surrounded by green fields, was weakened and organizers used salt to harden its surface.

Allègre said he took advantage of the conditions with “salty snow.”

“The first part wasn’t really good, the snow wasn’t really compact at the top,” explained the Frenchman. “I told myself in the finish area, before I saw my time, that maybe I wasn’t that fast because I wasn’t really feeling good. But that wasn’t the right thing. “

The top 13 finished seven-tenths of a second behind Allegre’s winning time, and included Franjo von Allmen, who started 44th and placed ninth as the course held up well.

Another super-G is planned for Sunday.

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