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Clément Noël, the slalom of the 21st century

This is the new sensation of French skiing. In less than a week, Clément Noël, 21, has offered two monuments of his sport. Six days after a prestigious victory on the slalom of Wengen (Switzerland), the Vosgien put it back on Saturday on the mythical track of Kitzbühel (Austria). Faster than his compatriot Alexis Pinturault (3e), Clement Christmas has even paid the luxury of ahead of his idol, Marcel Hirscher (2e) on the lands of the latter. The skier from Val-d'Isère became the third French to achieve the double Wengen – Kitzbühel, after Jean-Baptiste Grange in 2008 and Patrick Russel in 1970. A resounding feat hailed by the applause of Arnold Schwarzenegger, present on the edge of the Austrian track.

Thanks to his two successes, the Frenchman is in the running to become the third man to achieve the Wengen – Kitzbühel – Schladming treble after Austria's Benjamin Raich in 2001 and Norway's Henrik Kristoffersen in 2016. Tuesday night, at night, the tension will be at its height at the top of the Schladming track (Austria), nicknamed "the cauldron" because of the 50,000 people who attend this round of the World Cup each year. Last year, Henrik Kristoffersen even complained that he had received snowballs from an audience that was totally committed to the cause of Marcel Hirscher, the regional stage. But Clement Christmas knows the place, he had taken a nice sixth place last season.

The modern slalomer

After putting on his first skis in the Vosges, hope joins Savoie and Val-d'Isère at 15 to continue his apprenticeship. Two years later, the Frenchman was only 17 years old when he finished fourth in the slalom at the World Junior Championships, facing opponents who were sometimes three years older than him. Sacred junior world champion in February 2018, Clement Christmas is revealed among the great few weeks later, at the Olympic Games Pyeongchang where he closed the slalom only four hundredths of the medal. The young wolf scored his first podium at the beginning of January, finishing second in Adelboden, Switzerland, just before his historic double.

If the maturity of the great Vosgien (1.91 m) impresses, it is his way of skiing that seems to challenge his most glorious seniors. "He skis differently than others. He brings a new course to the slalom, explained Saturday Jean-Pierre Vidal, Olympic slalom champion in 2002, to the newspaper Team. He is no longer turning, he is able to put the ski in the direction, to cut his trajectory from one door to another. There have been scientific analyzes that say that the fastest speed to go between two slalom gates is to shoot straight and take a corner to avoid cornering. Except that nobody arrived there before. He can do it on portions of the race. " Using his technique, Clément Noël will try on Tuesday to tame the Austrian snow. Less than a month before Are's powder snow in Sweden, where the world championship slalom will take place.

Nicolas Grellier



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