Alexis Pinturault won his third consecutive World Cup giant slalom race on Saturday to extend series lead
France's Alexis Pinturault battled to his third consecutive Alpine Ski World Cup giant slalom victory on Saturday (9 January) in Adelboden, after Tommy Ford crashed out and had to be helicoptered to hospital.
Fans, family, and everybody else breathed a sigh of relief as the U.S. Ski & Snowboard team later reported that Ford was conscious and responding as he was taken to receive medical attention.
Back on the piste when racing got underway after a long delay 'Pintuperman' overtook Loic Meillard on Run 2 to claim his second win in two days in the Swiss Alps, this time by 1.65 seconds.
It's the Frenchman's 33rd world cup race win, moving him level with Bode Miller on the men's all-time list.
Meillard was leading after Run 1 for the first time in his career after he put down a 1:09.38 on his first descent - just ahead of the Frenchman's 1:09.68, but Pinturault's second run was a work of art.
Cutting lines and staying so calm and controlled he clocked 1:08.68, his breathtaking precision putting too much pressure on 24-year-old Meillard's shoulders.
It meant back-to-back victories for Pinturault after he also won on Friday in Adelboden, putting him 40 points clear on the overall standings.
Croatia's Filip Zubcic claimed an improbable second place, moving up from 5th to 2nd with a stunning second run of 1:09.22.
And Meillard recovered well after a mistake-filled second run to claim his first podium finish of the season in third, he recorded 1:09.38 and 1:10.63 runs to finish +1.65 from Pinturault.
Marco Odermatt finished fifth and Aleksander Aamodt Kilde sixth.
"It was the opposite from yesterday, Loic skiied so well in the first run and I really tried to do my best, to attack of course, but it was really quite difficult, it was really dark today, even later compared to yesterday, but I could manage it and I'm really proud of it," Pinturault told FIS after the race.
There were fears for Tommy Ford after he crashed out, losing his balance close to the finish line, flipping over and hitting his head on the hard snow.
The American crashed out towards the end of the hill and careened off the course at speed, stopped by the safety net.
There was a long delay as first responders attended to him, and he didn't move as the sled-stretcher later helped move him to the emergency transport to hospital.
It's an area of the course that also caused others to lose control yesterday, Switzerland's Gino Caviezel crashing out on Friday and Norwegians Lucas Braathen and Atle Lie McGrath both doing ligament damage.
But the good news on Tommy Ford soon filtered through that he was conscious and responsive:
"Tommy Ford is conscious and has been taken to the hospital for evaluation. He was talking to emergency responders when they loaded him," Tweeted the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Team.
Norway's Lucas Braathen will miss the rest of the season due to an MCL tear suffered on Friday 8 January in Adelboden after crashing through the finishing line.
“The injury requires surgery. We will now get him home for a final assessment, but the season is over. The rehabilitation period after such an injury is normally between six and nine months,” said Norwegian national team doctor Marc Strauss in a press release.
It's a big blow for one of alpine skiing's rising stars, 20-year-old Braathen won the opening giant slalom race of the season claiming his first World Cup victory in Soelden giant slalom on 18 October.
Meanwhile, his Norwegian teammate Atle Lie McGrath also faces a lay-off with a strained MCL after he also crashed out.
Reports say he'll be off the snow for six weeks, the news comes a month after earned his first-career podium in Alta Badia.