The story was too good.
A third victory in the resort of Chamonix, a double in the World Cup after last week's success in Schladming (Austria), and ideal preparation before the World Championships scheduled in two weeks a few kilometers away... Clément Noël ended up having a very frustrating Saturday.
In the lead after the first round, the 25-year-old Vosgien fell on the second track.
The reigning Olympic champion straddled halfway, like six other competitors.
A technical error which offers the first place to the Swiss Ramon Zenhäusern, in front of the sensational AJ Ginnis.
The Greek, yet 24th before the second race, made a fantastic comeback to finish on the second step of the podium.
It's terrible for Clément Noël who gets on!
— L'Équipe channel (@lachainelequipe) February 4, 2023
“I made a fairly standard inside foul.
There's not much to explain, it's the shoe that hits.
I was on a bit of a weird spot.
It was a little slippery, a little more soapy, ”he explained to the L'Equipe channel.
Despite this poor performance, Clément Noël is advancing as the headliner of French alpine skiing.
48 hours before the launch of the Courchevel-Méribel Worlds (Savoie), which will be held from February 6 to 19, he is the only French athlete to have won this season in the World Cup.
Behind, the chances of a medal are slim.
Among the men, only Alexis Pinturault (Super-G) and the stainless Johan Clarey (downhill, twice) made it to the podium.
On the women's side, there is only one third place, that of Romane Miradoli (Super-G) last December.
“We go from everything to nothing”
It is now up to Clément Noël to manage this status, he who did not have an ideal start to the season, far from it.
Leaving the track in three of the first four races, he struggled to get rid of the “handbrake”… until something clicked last week in the temple of discipline.
"Schladming has been good for my mind, my morale and my way of skiing, I was able to be more liberated in training, in the race".
Will this new track exit break the dynamic?
The interested party assures us not.
" It is not easy.
We go from everything to nothing.
It's hard to swallow here in France.
But there is not everything to throw away.
In two days, I will manage to come out of the positive of this race.
I prefer that rather than finishing 9th or 8th.
I had fun.
It's just that I could have made the podium and it would have been magical, ”reassured the slalomer, who said he was a little “comforted” by the surprise performance of his friend AJ Ginnis.
Big favorite for the world title, one year after Beijing
When everything is in place, physically and psychologically, Christmas is a favorite.
One of his most serious competitors is called Lucas Braathen.
The Norwegian, world number one in the discipline, was not in the game this Saturday.
Operated for appendicitis at the beginning of the week, he has fifteen days ahead of him to recover.
Read alsoWinter Olympics 2022: Clément Noël, "a rare champion", salutes Jean-Claude Killy
The men's slalom event will end the fortnight in Courchevel-Méribel on February 19.
Clément Noël has planned a little rest before setting off for this major objective of the season.
History not to gamberger too much, it does not exclude to participate in another test by then.
“I might like to put on a bib before the slalom at the Worlds to soak up the atmosphere and get into the event, but it's not just up to me.
We will see what we find judicious to arrive at the best of my form, ”he said on Friday.
For the moment, he has never done better than a seventh place at the Worlds.
It was in 2019 in Are, Sweden.