After protest over sponsor flap, Kristoffersen wins slalom

VAL D’ISERE, France (AP) Motivated after missing a race over a sponsor flap, Henrik Kristoffersen of Norway won a World Cup slalom Sunday as first-run leader Alexis Pinturault straddled a gate in his second trip down.

After coming down in the lead, Kristoffersen beat his chest with his fist in an extended celebration.

Kristoffersen, the World Cup slalom winner last season, skipped the opening slalom of this season in Levi, Finland, last month to protest being blocked by the Norwegian federation from wearing the helmet of a personal sponsor.

”It’s a really good feeling after all that happened the last month and a half or two,” said Kristoffersen, who was third after the opening run. ”This is really good.”

Showing off both his power and flexibilty on the steep and icy Face de Bellevarde, Kristoffersen finished with a large gap of 0.75 seconds ahead of five-time defending overall champion Marcel Hirscher.

Alexander Khoroshilov of Russia took third, nearly two seconds back.

Hirscher increased his overall lead over Pinturault to 156 points.

It was the 11th World Cup win of Kristoffersen’s career.

Conditions were perfect, with a clear sky, the temperature slightly below freezing and no problems with vision.

Marc Digruber of Austria finished fourth and Stefano Gross of Italy came fifth.

A surprise came from Armand Marchant, an 18-year-old Belgian, who scored his best career result by finishing 18th with the No. 65 bib.

The men next travel to Val Gardena and Alta Badia in Italy.