The conflict between 22-year-old Norwegian technical ace Henrik Kristoffersen and the Norwegian Ski Federation that was previously thought to be resolved entered a new phase on Wednesday as the Norwegian media broke news that Kristoffersen has submitted a lawsuit against the federation in Oslo district court.
After holding out earlier in the summer, Kristoffersen finally signed his team agreement in August when he failed to successfully petition for an exemption to the federation’s policy on personal headgear sponsors.
The federation’s current agreement with telecommunications giant Telenor requires all athletes to display the company’s logo on their headgear during all competition, media, and team appearances with the exception of Aksel Lund Svindal. Svindal has a contract with Red Bull that preceded the federation’s current contract with Telenor, and he was granted a grandfather exemption as a result.
Kristoffersen is currently a Red Bull-sponsored athlete and has reportedly been offered a larger, more lucrative contract with the iconic energy drink brand for over two years but has been unable to accept due to the federation’s policy. According to Kristoffersen’s father and manager, Lars, Red Bull’s offer had a deadline of two weeks ago.
The elder Kristoffersen explained that the lawsuit stems from the feeling that they were treated unfairly by the federation during earlier negotiations.
“There are several reasons why we do this,” he told Norway’s NRK. “It was not just taking out a lawsuit, but we felt that we were not taken entirely seriously (by the federation). … It should not be necessary to take this step because this could have been resolved in a much better way for all parties. It could be a win-win situation for everyone, and not so that one of the parties is left as a big loser.”
Kristoffersen would not elaborate on the specifics of the lawsuit and would only say they seek to be treated fairly moving forward.
In a statement released by the federation, the current sponsor agreement was reiterated and it stated that since Kristoffersen signed his team agreement on Aug. 2, he is not allowed to promote a personal sponsor. The federation concluded that there is a fundamental disagreement between the two parties as to who owns Kristoffersen’s marketing rights.
In another twist, Kristoffersen will consider sitting out the opening World Cup slalom in Levi, Finland, on Nov. 13 if he does not feel “100 percent prepared” to compete. Kristoffersen is the defending World Cup slalom champion and there have been no reports of him sustaining any physical injuries since Soelden, adding another layer of drama to the already impassioned dispute.