“I just need to stay loose and trust myself”
by Than Acuff
David Chodounsky grew up in Crested Butte skiing for the Crested Butte Ski Club, racing in the Prater Cup, skiing for the Crested Butte Academy and eventually winning the NCAA title in slalom as captain of the NCAA Division I champions Dartmouth team.
Now that college is over, he has focused almost entirely on his alpine ski-racing career, making the U.S. Ski Team, reaching the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia and continuing on the World Cup circuit. He is currently the highest ranked U.S. slalom racer on the World Cup and has punched his ticket to the winter games in South Korea with a 15th-place finish in Kitzbuhel. He took some time to respond to a Q&A between races in Europe.
How has the season been so far?
It’s been a bit of a rough year for me. The skiing has been there but I’ve had a little trouble finding the finish line. I’ve had great runs going and I’ve had a few runs end with hooking a tip as I was on my way to a top 10 result. The good thing is that the speed is there to be a contender so I just need to stay loose and trust myself.
What turned around for you in Kitzbuhel?
Nothing really different happened in Kitzbuhel, I just skied two solid runs. I didn’t push the speed that much and I could have risked a bit more to be faster but I just wanted a couple solid runs to build my confidence so I have it for the next time.
Was the race do or die as far as making the Olympic team?
It wasn’t a completely do or die race, I was still leading our team in World Cup points, which was our qualifying objective, but I didn’t have amazing results, so anything could have happened. My top 15 in Kitzbuhel locked it up though.
Do you have more races prior to the Olympics?
I just raced the other night again in Schladming, Austria. We had some tough snow conditions there and I didn’t have the greatest race but again, my speed is still there so I have to take the good from that.
Now I am racing the giant slalom in Garmisch this weekend and am hoping for a good race here. If it goes well, I could still qualify to race the giant slalom along with the slalom and Alpine team event.
What are your hopes/expectations for this time at the Olympics?
Expectations are the worst for me so I want to go in without any. I just want to ski loose, trust myself and see what happens. I think I got caught up with result expectations last time in Sochi and it ended up with disappointment. Whatever happens, I’m still honored to represent Team USA a second time around. It’s pretty amazing to be heading to my second Olympics. I want to just enjoy the experience. This one is for my family, friends and all those who supported me throughout my career and when I was just trying to make the national team. I could never have made it here on my own.