On Sunday, Alexandros Ioannis “AJ” Ginnis won Greece’s first ever medal at the Alpine World Championships. He came second in the skiing slalom at Courchevel in France.
Norway’s Henrik Kristoffersen made a stunning comeback to secure gold at the event. Meanwhile, Ginnis held the second-place position throughout the event, thus winning a silver medal.
The Greek skier moved to Austria at a young age and was taught to ski by his father who worked there as a skiing instructor. Ginnis also competed for the now-disbanded US team.
AJ Ginnis wins Greece’s first medal
“It’s just a dream, the last two weeks. History for Greece, best moment in my career,” Ginnis said, reflecting on his impressive performance. “I can’t believe it. I don’t know what happened. During the run, I thought it was not enough and I just gave everything in the last gates.”
“I ski for Greece, so I ski free,” the Greek athlete added with a chuckle. He said that he prayed to “all 12” of the Greek gods before the race.
“You put Greece on the map,” said Johan Eliasch, president of the International Ski and Snowboard Federation, before awarding Ginnis with the silver medal during the awards ceremony.
It's not often that 🥈 steals the headlines.
AJ Ginnis secures a historic first alpine ski medal for 🇬🇷 pic.twitter.com/e87qwQPHGX
— Eurosport (@eurosport) February 19, 2023
Life and career
Ginnis was born in Athens and grew up in the seaside suburb of Vouliagmen. His father ran a ski school and at the age of just two years old, Ginnis started skiing on the slopes of Mount Parnassus.
When Ginnis was 12, his family relocated to Austria, naturally an excellent place for skiing. It was here that he decided that his pastime hobby could become a potential career.
When he was 15, the family relocated again, this time to the United States. Two years later, during the Spring of 2012, Ginnis made it onto the US ski team, at the age of just 17.
However, in the 2013 season, the promising young athlete suffered a significant setback when he tore his ACL. The injury prevented him from taking part in competitions that season.
After recovering from the injury, he was able to return to the sport and began to climb the skiing rankings. He made his world debut during the slalom at Madonna di Campiglio, Italy, on December 22, 2014.
Later, during the same season, Ginnis won the bronze medal in the slalom at the Junior World Championships in Hafjell, Norway. He continued to gain places in the rankings by placing on the podiums and securing wins at the Europa Cup, NorAm, and national championship events.
In December 2016, Ginnis scored his first World Cup points by finishing 26th in the slalom at Madonna di Campiglio. Then, during the 2017 season, he qualified to represent Team USA at the World Championships in St. Moritz, Switzerland.
Ginnis was again however set back by injuries. He suffered from no less than five injuries requiring surgery on the same knee. This took away from valuable time that could have been spent practicing and competing on the slopes.
Nevertheless, Ginnis persevered and skied for Dartmouth College to requalify for Team USA. However, the American men’s slalom squad was disbanded after the 2017-18 season, which is when Ginnis decided to ski for Greece instead.
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