AJ Ginnis (Vouliagmeni, Greece) stands atop the podium with a big smile, as he grabbed his first U.S. Alpine Championship title in slalom at Sugarloaf, Maine on Sunday. (Reese Brown)
CARRABASSETT VALLEY, ME (March 26, 2017) – Resi Stiegler (Jackson, WY – U.S. Ski Team) and AJ Ginnis (Vouliagmeni, Greece – U.S. Ski Team) were victorious under a sunny, bluebird spring day in Sunday’s slalom at the U.S. Alpine Championships in Sugarloaf, Maine.
On the women’s side, Stiegler found herself atop the podium at U.S. Alpine Championships for the first time since 2007, when she won both the giant slalom and slalom national titles. Canadian Roni Remme, who skis for the University of Utah, was second, while Lila Lapanja (Incline Village, NV – U.S. Ski Team) was third. Nina O’Brien (Edwards, CO – U.S. Ski Team), who was the junior champion in Saturday's super G, was the top junior finisher once again, landing in seventh.
Resi Stiegler stands atop the podium with Roni Remme in second and Lila Lapanja in third. (U.S. Ski Team - Reese Brown)
It’s been a career full of ups and downs for the veteran Stiegler, who was stoked to find her way back to the top of the podium. “I won the year I got injured, and I haven’t won since,” Stiegler said. “I’ve been second to Canadians for quite a few years, so I thought, ‘I’ve gotta get this one!’
"It’s fun to be national champion," continued Stiegler. "A win feels good, no matter what it is, where it is, or how it is. If you come home and you’re in front of a home crowd, with all of the kids you race and train all year with – it just feels good to be here in general.”
David Chodounsky finished second in the national championships. (U.S. Ski Team - Reese Brown)
It was Ginnis’ first national title, and he had stiff competition. Four-time national champion and tech team leader David Chodounsky (Crested Butte, CO – U.S. Ski Team) – who is one of the best slalom skiers in the world – landed in second by just 15 hundredths of a second while World Cup mainstay Michael Ankeny (Deephaven, MN – U.S. Ski Team) rounded out the podium in third. All three U.S. Ski Team athletes have attended or are currently attending Dartmouth. Erik Arvidsson (Woodside, CA – U.S. Ski Team) was the top junior, finishing seventh.
In a tricky second run course set, Ginnis was able to get the edge on the field and landed his very first national title by “doing something special and pushing really hard.” He was stoked to end the season on a high note. “It feels incredible to win this national title,” said Ginnis. “David [Chodounsky] is our leader; he’s the captain of our team – beating him is extremely tough. So to be able to edge him out today – I’m really, really happy. We’re back in the U.S., it’s sunny and warm in Sugarloaf – what could be better?”
The good vibes keep rolling on in Sugarloaf, with athletes happy to ski in the sunshine and finish the season in front of a home crowd. Just ask Lapanja, who loves finishing the season at U.S. Alpine Championships. “Nationals really fills another part of my soul up as a ski racer that other races in the season just don’t in the same way,” reflected Lapanja. “I don’t know why, but I come to U.S. nationals and I totally own it. I love being here, and it’s my last opportunity to podium and show the world where I belong. It’s a really cool feeling.”
Athletes will now shift their focus and look ahead to giant slalom, with the U.S. Alpine Championships continuing Monday with women’s giant slalom and Tuesday with men’s giant slalom.
Resi Stiegler won her third national title and second national slalom title – the first in 10 years – on Sunday in Sugarloaf.
The last time Stiegler won a national title was 2007 in Alyeska, AK.
AJ Ginnis won his career-first national title, unseating teammate and four-time national champion David Chodounsky. Chodounsky had won the title in the last three seasons (’14, ’15, ’16).
All three U.S. Ski Team athletes on the slalom podium – AJ Ginnis, David Chodounsky and Michael Ankeny – have attended or are currently attending Dartmouth.
For the second consecutive day, Nina O’Brien was the top junior, finishing seventh. Erik Arvidsson was the top junior on the men’s side, finishing seventh.
The U.S. Alpine Championships continues Monday in Sugarloaf, Maine with women’s giant slalom and Tuesday with men’s giant slalom.
QUOTES Resi Stiegler I won the year I got injured, and I haven’t won since. I’ve been second to Canadians for quite a few years, so I thought, ‘I’ve gotta get this one!’ It’s fun to be national champion. A win feels good, no matter what it is, where it is, or how it is. If you come home, and you’re in front of a home crowd, with all of the kids you race and train all year with – it just feels good to be here in general.
[On continuing to work towards her World Cup podium goal] We got a new coach, Magnus (Andersson) last year, and he wasn’t there for our prep period and I think that’s really going to be the game-changer for me this year because he had such good stuff for me that I learned during the winter. You can learn and get it as fast as you want, but to put it into race day and get that consistency is hard. I felt it a couple of races, with a couple of top 10 finishes, but lost it at the end of the season. Now that we have him this whole summer, I can train what we were discussing and make it a habit – and hopefully that’ll do it.
Lila Lapanja It feels good to be on the podium again. I’ve had a really challenging season, so I really wanted this podium. The course conditions were awesome, and I’m really proud of it. For me, I’m a performer, and I love performing at big events – and U.S. nationals really fills another part of my soul up as a ski racer that other races in the season just don’t in the same way. I don’t know why, but I come to U.S. nationals and I just totally own it. I love being here, and it’s my last opportunity to podium and show the world where I belong. It’s a really cool feeling.
AJ Ginnis It feels incredible to win this national title. David (Chodounsky) is our leader; he’s the captain of our team – beating him is extremely tough. So to be able to edge him out today – I’m really, really happy. We’re back in the U.S., it’s sunny and warm in Sugarloaf – what could be better?!
My mom came out for these races from North Carolina. I’m so happy she’s here. Pushing out of the gate you could hear the crowd go nuts for Dave, so I knew I had to do something really special, and I pushed it really hard.
David Chodounsky AJ’s been working hard – he’s been working his butt off – so he deserves it 100 percent. I put my best out there, but he beat me. So he deserves it. Props to him; good job! I’ll do the GS here and then I’m going to go home. I’m very excited to go home and take some time off.
Michael Ankeny It’s still U.S. nationals – we’ve got David Chodounsky, who’s top 25 in the world; AJ Ginnis, who was 13th the first run in Madonna; Mark Engel, who was third first run in Zagreb. So, the competition here doesn’t feel much different (than a World Cup); it’s just a little more casual. My family – my mom, my brother and all of my friends from Dartmouth – were able to come up. So you get that sort of home crowd feel that some of the girls might have felt at Killington or Squaw World Cups, but we haven’t really gotten this year. It’s just a really fun environment.