CARRABASSETT VALLEY, Maine– The sun came out in full force on Sunday for the men’s and women’s U.S. National Championship slalom race at Sugarloaf Resort in Maine. U.S. Ski Team athletes AJ Ginnis and Resi Stiegler came out on top, winning the slalom national championship titles for 2017.
In the women’s race, Stiegler reclaimed the title after a 10-year drought. Her last victory was in 2007 when she won the slalom and giant slalom race at Alyeska, Alaska.
“I won the year I got injured, and I haven’t won since,” Stiegler said. “I have been second to Canadians for quite a few years, so I was like, ‘I gotta get this one!’ It’s fun; A win feels good no matter what it is, where it is, or how it is, it just feels good.”
Her win was decisive with a total time of 1:39.68, 0.92 seconds ahead of second-place finisher, Roni Remme of Canada, who also competes for the University of Utah. In third place was the U.S. Ski Team’s Lila Lapanja, 1.25 seconds off the pace. The American has been a consistent presence on the U.S. Nationals podium over the last few years.
“For me, I’m a performer, and I love performing at big events,” Lapanja said. “U.S. Nationals really fills another part of my soul up as a ski racer that other races in the season just don’t. I don’t know why, but I come to U.S. Nationals and I just totally own it. I love being here and I guess it’s my last opportunity to win and to podium and to show the world where I belong, and it’s just a really cool feeling.”
Nina O’Brien was once again the top junior finisher, coming in seventh place.
On the men’s side, Ginnis unseated four-time National Champion David Chodounsky to win his first National title.
“It feels incredible,” Ginnis said. “David is our leader; he’s our captain of the team. Beating him is extremely tough, so to edge that out today, I’m really, really happy. We’re back in the U.S., it’s sunny in Sugarloaf, it’s warm in Sugarloaf, what could be better?”
His winning time was 1:35.75, 0.15 seconds ahead of Chodounsky–the exact margin that Chodounsky beat Ginnis by at 2015 U.S. Nationals in Sugarloaf when they went 1-2 in the results.
“He’s been working hard,” Chodounsky said. “He’s been working his butt off, so he deserves it 100 percent. I put my best out there and he beat me, so he deserves it, Props to him, good job.”
U.S. Ski Team athlete Michael Ankeny rounded out the men’s podium in third place, 0.88 seconds off the pace.
“The competition doesn’t feel much different (than a World Cup), but it’s a little more casual,” Ankeny shared. “My family, my mom and my brother and all 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 that we haven’t really gotten this year so it’s just a really fun environment.”
American Erik Arvidsson was the top junior athlete, coming in seventh place. Now, a few of the men are taking a short trip up to Mont Tremblant, Quebec to compete in the Canadian Championships before returning their giant slalom race on Tuesday. The women will race in the U.S. National Championship giant slalom on Monday.