David Chodounsky of the U.S. Ski Team skied through zero degree temperatures and high winds on Sunday River’s Monday Mourning Trail on Saturday to win the $10,000 prize money in the Pro Ski Challenge at Sunday River, Maine. The event was part of the rebirth of the World Pro Ski Tour, which has been dormant for 17 years. Top racers from across the U.S. and Canada and such countries as Argentina and France competed in the two day event.
A field of 32 world-class competitors was whittled down from 36 male athletes, who competed in Friday’s qualifying race. They dueled it out throughout the day on a perfectly prepared venue. It was a grueling day on a dual slalom course with a pair of four-foot jumps to add to the challenge. The high winds made the jumps especially difficult and several racers got blown off course as they landed.
After a major mistake in Run 1 of their final matchup, Chodounsky trailed by teammate AJ Ginnis by a large margin. As Ginnis approached the final two gates he made a small mistake that led to him not being able to finish the course. As Chodounsky crossed the finish line, he looked back up the hill and, in disbelief, realized he had taken the victory.
“At first I was confused as to what had happened,” Chodounsky recalled. “He is such a consistent racer and I thought it was going to be impossible to take the title. But in the end, it’s an unbelievable feeling to win this race. I gave it my all in the last run and in the end it rewarded me. It was amazing to race against these guys, I had a blast, so it feels amazing to win. It was a good old fashioned drag race.”
Despite the agonizing finish, Ginnis still cherishes the experience.
“It was an extremely long day of very competitive dual racing and even though I had a large margin going into the second round, I knew I had to bring it. After a consistent day of racing, I was two gates from the finish and made a crucial mistake. It cost me the win, but that’s ski racing. It was still an unbelievable event and I’ll remember it forever.”
The temperatures stuck in the single digits throughout the day with wind chills below -10. Despite the harsh conditions, the racing proved to be enough to draw an excited crowd. Spectators braved the winds and cold to view the race from the finish corral and the deck of the Barker Mountain Base Lodge with the entire course in full view.
Watch run 2 of the final round between Chodounsky (Blue course) and Ginnis (Red course)
Release from Sunday River