AJ Ginnis gifts himself the best Christmas present he could ask for, grabbing his career-first World Cup points in Madonna di Campiglio. (Getty Images/Agence Zoom-Alexis Boichard)
MADONNA DI CAMPIGLIO, Italy (Dec. 22, 2016) – Santa came early this Christmas for the young AJ Ginnis (Vouliagmeni, Greece). Under the lights and in front of 16,000 screaming Italian fans at one of the longest-standing, most classic venues on the Audi FIS Ski World Cup circuit, Ginnis snagged his first World Cup points, finishing 26th. David Chodounsky (Crested Butte, CO) finished 17th.
For the second consecutive year, Norway’s Henrik Kristoffersen and Austria’s Marcel Hirscher went 1-2, with Italy’s own Stefano Gross finishing third, 1.35 seconds out. No worries, Hirscher—no drones in sight this year. Instead, it was Ginnis who stunned the crowd, skiing a clean and solid first run, rocketing him from 58th to 13th.
“I was thinking about just keeping it on my outside ski and down the fall line,” reflected Ginnis after first run. “I’ve had a turbulent month to say the least, so I’m just trying to simplify everything and put a good run together. Madonna was my first World Cup two years ago, so it’s nice to come back here after I was injured last year and be able to perform like that.”
Ginnis’ coaches, Ian Lochhead and Sasha Rearick, have been working on simplifying it for Ginnis and his teammates. Which, as Rearick puts it, “…is just staying on the outside ski and letting the ski go down the fall line.” Well, it worked tonight at Madonna, on the big stage.
Rearick also gave props to Chodounsky, who made a good step in the right direction today with a top-20 finish and solid skiing going into the January slalom season. After failing to finish at both Levi and Val d’Isere, it seems Chodounsky has shaken off the cobwebs and gained some confidence going into Zagreb, Croatia on January 5.
David Chodounsky finished 17th in Thursday’s slalom under the lights at Madonna di Campiglio, Italy. (Getty Images/Agence Zoom-Alexis Boichard)
“I made it down, had some mistakes second run, but I was charging more and felt a lot more comfortable,” noted Chodounsky. “No matter how much confidence or how much training you’ve had in the summer, once you get that first finish, it kind of shakes the cobwebs off. I’ll be ready come next slalom. I’m happy with it.”
The men’s tech team has struggled in recent years to find the flow in slalom and get multiple guys in the points, so today’s performance was a definite positive, and for the young Ginnis, it was “the best Christmas gift he could have given himself.”
When asked who the first person he was going to call is, he said without hesitation, “My mom for sure…I’m sure she’s up watching already. I wish she was here!” Fitting, as he was wearing a Shred helmet with a paint job by the one and only Jeannie Ginnis—his mother.
Robby Kelley (Starksboro, VT) and Michael Ankeny (Deephaven, MN) did not qualify for second run. Mark Engel (Truckee, CA) did not finish first run.
The men’s tech team will take a break for the holidays before traveling over to Zagreb, Croatia for a slalom on Thursday, January 5.
AJ Ginnis (Vouliagmeni, Greece) grabbed his first World Cup points on the same track where he made his World Cup debut in December 2014.
Ginnis was sidelined for much of the 2016 season with a torn meniscus.
David Chodounsky was the top finisher for the Americans, in 17th, grabbing his first World Cup slalom points of the season.
Madonna di Campiglio is one of the venues that has been with the Audi FIS Ski World Cup circuit since the beginning, in 1966-67 when the World Cup was founded. This season, the World Cup celebrates its 50th birthday.
Road to Aspen: Marcel Hirscher’s second place in Madonna di Campiglio helps him maintain the lead in the overall at the midpoint of the season by a large margin over Norway’s Kjetil Jansrud—633 points to Jansrud’s 382 points. Hirscher is leading the slalom standings, with 260 points over Norway’s Henrik Kristofferson's 200 points as we head into a heavy slalom month in January.
The men’s World Cup tour will take a break for the holidays before traveling over to Zagreb, Croatia for a slalom on Thursday, January 5.
David Chodounsky [On his performance] I made it down, had some mistakes second run, but I was charging more and felt a lot more comfortable. No matter how much confidence or how much training you’ve had in the summer, once you get that first finish it kind of shakes the cobwebs off. I’ll be ready come next slalom. I’m happy with it. I’ll take it.
[On AJ scoring his first World Cup points] It’s great. We’ve been missing that for a long time. We have the speed, and hopefully this fires up the rest of the guys. They’ve been training together, so I have a feeling that if they see one guy make it in, they know they can be just as fast because they are in training. Hopefully that fuels them. It’s great. It looked liked he was skiing with some nerves second run, but good for him, he made it down with World Cup points. Congrats to him!
AJ Ginnis [On his performance first run] I was thinking about just keeping it on my outside ski and down the fall line. I’ve had a turbulent month, to say the least, so I’m just trying to simplify everything and put a good run together. Madonna was my first World Cup two years ago, so it’s nice to come back here after I was injured last year and be able to perform like that.
[On how it feels to grab his first World Cup points] Feels amazing…feels like the weight of the world’s been lifted off my shoulders. I was so nervous in that gate for the second run, but I’m so happy. This is the best Christmas present I could have given myself.
[On whom he’ll call first] My mom for sure…I’m sure she’s up watching already. I wish she was here!
Sasha Rearick – Head Men’s Coach Good forward step for the team today. Daver has gone out in the last two races, and it’s always tough being a slalom skier and going out. He had a solid first run…second run was a dead-straight course and you basically just had to keep the skis in the fall line and go like hell. Impressive job by (Henrik) Kristoffersen and the guys on the top steps there doing that. Daver did a good job of doing that about halfway down the course to the bottom, on the top just over-skied it. Positive step in the right direction for David as we go into slalom season in January.
Impressive first run by AJ…he just did exactly what he’s been doing in training, which is just staying on the outside ski and letting the ski go down the fall line. He did a great job of that in the first run…second run, definitely the first time there, nerves got him. He admitted he was nervous. But to get that monkey off his back—congrats to him.
BROADCAST AND LIVE STREAMING (times EST) 10:00 p.m. – Madonna di Campiglio slalom – Universal HD
Live streaming available on NBCsports.com/Live and the NBC Sports app, which is available on the iTunes App Store, Google Play, Windows Store, Roku Channel Store, Apple TV and Amazon Fire.
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