Alpine

Chodounsky Top U.S. Finisher in Zagreb

by
Courtney Harkins
2017-01-05 12:51
 

ZAGREB, Croatia (Jan. 5, 2017) – Battling bad luck with weather, David Chodounsky (Crested Butte, CO) was the top American finisher at the Audi FIS Ski World Cup night slalom in Zagreb, taking 16th.

Today, though, it was the World Cup veterans who stole the show. Manfred Moelgg of Italy was crowned VIP Snow Queen, with Felix Neureuther of Germany second and Norwegian Henrik Kristoffersen in third.

It was a blustery day with a strong headwind blowing up the hill at the athletes. Some got lucky and some fell victim to the gusts. Chodounsky was one of the unlucky skiers. “It was really crazy up there,” he said. “I went through that hairpin and I literally could not see the next gate and I didn’t know where to go. I snowplowed it—slid my skis a little bit until it cleared enough to see the gate and then I kept going.”


Mark Engel took third first run, after starting 45th. (Getty Images/Agence Zoom-Christophe Pallot)

But he kept a good head on his shoulders and is looking forward to this weekend in Adelboden. “I felt like I was skiing up top pretty well,” he said. “I got points out of it. I’ll go to the next race and keep firing.”

But the story of the day was NCAA giant slalom champion Mark Engel (Truckee, CA), who skied from bib 45 to take third first run. “I just pushed really hard out of the gate and tried to do what I could do the whole way,” said Engel after first run. “Our whole team has been training really fast, really strong and everyone has been pushing each other and trading off runs. It honestly felt like just another training run.”


Engel crashes out of the second run of slalom. (Getty Images/Agence Zoom-Christophe Pallot)

But luck was also not on Engel’s side, who was less than a second off the leader second run when he straddled and crashed a few gates from the finish. But he was smiling at the finish, proud of himself for his first run accomplishment and knowing he could do it again in the future. “It was like a dream come true,” said Engel.

Engel also joked about starting behind fellow Atomic athlete Marcel Hirscher, who he beat first run. “I think I rode up the chairlift with him in Levi one time and I was playing reggae music on my phone,” said Engel, who is a musician himself. “He was looking at me like I was a little bit crazy. Maybe we’ll know each other better now.”

The men next head to Adelboden for a giant slalom and slalom Saturday and Sunday.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • David Chodounsky was the top American finisher, taking 16th.
  • Mark Engel skied from bib 45 to third place after first run, but fell and did not finish second run.
  • Robby Kelley (Starksboro, VT), AJ Ginnis (Vouliagmeni, Greece) and Michael Ankeny (Deephaven, MN) did not qualify for a second run.
  • Next, the men head to Adelboden for a GS and slalom on Saturday and Sunday.  
     

QUOTES

David Chodounsky
It was hard. It’s an outdoor sport and that’s what we do. I didn’t get the good wind today. It was really crazy up there. I went through that hairpin and I literally could not see the next gate and I didn’t know where to go. I snowplowed it—slid my skis a little bit until it cleared enough to see the gate and then I kept going. You gotta just shake it off. There’s nothing I can do. I felt like I was skiing up top pretty well before that. I got points out of it. I’ll go to the next race and keep firing.

I’m very confident coming into Adelboden. I’m training well. The beginning of the season was good and there was a little bit of a lull before Christmas and I didn’t feel super confident, but it’s ramping back up and I feel good going into the next four slaloms this month. I’m in a good spot and I’m ready to go.  

Mark Engel
(After first run)
I just pushed really hard out of the gate and tried to do what I could do the whole way. Our whole team has been training really fast, really strong and everyone has been pushing each other and trading off runs. It honestly felt like just another training run. I did get lucky—I had a funny feeling when it happened. It cleared up when I was going and that helped things.

(After second run)
It was like a dream come true. To me, it felt like normal skiing, like how we ski in training. I was very surprised.

When I fell, I shouldn’t tell you what I felt when I fell. But I’m smiling now. I was happy I was going for it and not holding back.

(On starting behind Marcel Hirsher second run)
I think I rode up the chairlift with him in Levi one time and I was playing reggae music on my phone. He was looking at me like I was a little bit crazy. Maybe we’ll know each other better now.

(On his serviceman, John Mulligan)
This is our first year together and he has a lot of experience. He was here with Kristina Koznick 10 years ago when she got a podium. It’s a pleasure to work with him.

RESULTS
Men’s slalom results