What a start to the 60th anniversary of the Critérium de la Première Neige ! Marcel Hischer won the giant slalom ahead of Felix Neureuther. Victor Muffat-Jeandet took third place for his first home podium.

The 26-year-old Muffat-Jeandet, who recently signed for the Val d’Isere sports club, confirmed his great current shape a week after his second place in Beaver Creek, Colorado. “Even though they are entirely different slopes, I’m happy to see the work pay off. Now I must enjoy that and keep working. But beforehand there’s the slalom !” the Frenchman said.

The local hero enjoyed every minute of his first World Cup experience at home : “The organisers can be proud of themselves. The crowd was unbelievable. It could have been complicated to race at home but I took it as a chance.”

In the lead from the morning run, Marcel Hirscher was again impressive, leaving closest rival Felix Neureuther of Germany nearly a second and a half adrift. The Austrian is almost on home snow too in Val d’Isere, having won a giant slalom here three times previously in 2009, 2012 and 2013 : “Bellevarde is a technical piste that suits my style of skiing. In the first leg, I lost a little bit of time and I didn’t ski my best. I made the difference in the afternoon run by skiing with more confidence,” he said.

Thanks to this victory, the overall World Cup holder took his number of World Cup wins to 34 : “I’m very happy even though records are not a special objective.”

Among the other key facts of the day, the performance of France’s Steve Missilier was remarkable as he finished 8th after starting with the #56 bib. American Olympic champion Ted Ligety failed to qualify for the second leg for the first time in a decade.

Most of the day’s protagonists are back in action tomorrow at 9.30am for the first leg of the slalom.