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Alexis Pinturault wins WCup slalom; U.S. prospect Luke Winters finishes 19th

VAL D'ISERE, France -- Alexis Pinturault won his first World Cup slalom in almost six years by a big margin Sunday, after American prospect Luke Winters could not sustain an unexpected challenge.

Pinturault extended his first-run lead to finish 1.44 seconds ahead of Olympic champion Andre Myhrer. Stefano Gross was third, a further 0.03 back.

On seeing his time in the finish area, Pinturault celebrated by throwing both of his ski poles high into the air.

The race was made more dramatic by Winters of the United States, who soared wearing start bib No. 40 to be second-fastest in the opening run.

An aggressive second run saw the 22-year-old Winters make errors that dropped him to 19th place and out of contention for a first American podium in men's slalom since March 2011.

Pinturault's first slalom win since January 2014 positions him as a strong contender to follow the now-retired Marcel Hirscher's eight-year run as overall champion.

His 25th career World Cup race win was just a third in slalom. The first was also at Val d'Isere, eight years ago.

The Frenchman now leads the overall standings from Henrik Kristoffersen, who lost his victory chance when almost skiing out in the first run. Kristoffersen had the fastest second run by more than a second to rise from 27th to fourth, 0.01 off the podium.

Pinturault benefited from two of his main rivals hitting trouble at the same icy spot near the finish of the first run. Kristoffersen recovered to cross the line 2.82 back, but Pinturault's France teammate Clement Noel went out.

Noel won the slalom title at the 2018 junior world championships, where Winters took bronze in super-G at Davos, Switzerland.

Winters earned his first World Cup points from his eighth race start, and it was the first time he qualified for a second run.

The last American to stand on a World Cup slalom podium was Nolan Kasper, who was runner-up at Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, nine seasons ago.