Local David Chodounsky wins slalom title at U.S. Nationals

Win at U.S. Nationals opens door to U.S. Ski Team

David Chodounsky closed out his 2008-2009 season of alpine racing in style, winning the slalom title at the U.S. Nationals in Alyeska, Alaska on Sunday, March 29.
It was Chodounsky’s fifth trip to the U.S. Nationals, races that include members of the U.S. Ski Team. In years past he’s placed seventh and fifth. This year, he came into the nationals on fire, with a number of solid results leading up to the event.
“This year I knew I had a pretty good shot,” says Chodounsky. “I knew I was skiing well.”
Chodounsky committed himself to an intense season of racing all in an effort to qualify for the U.S. Ski Team and with the win in Alaska, he may have reached his goal.
His quest started with working throughout the summer to make as much money as possible before the racing season started.
Then, Chodounsky hit the road and air, competing in races throughout the U.S. and Europe.
Conditions were tricky, to say the least, in Alaska. Storms battered the resort leading up to race day, making for premier powder skiing. And when it wasn’t snowing, competitors were treated to ash as nearby Mt. Redoubt continued to erupt, covering the slopes in its explosive emanations.
“I don’t really know how to wax for ash,” says Chodounsky.
While Chodounsky was there for the races, he maintained his mental focus in classic skier fashion, pounding powder the days leading up to the race.
“I skied hard the day before—it was great,” says Chodounsky. “I think I just had a lot of fun so I skied well.”
Chodounsky was in fourth place after the first of two runs and knew the top spot was well within reach.
“I had a little mistake but I knew I could make that time up,” says Chodounsky.
Chodounsky recalls having an incredible moment of clarity on his second run that set the stage for his win.
“I was pretty focused on the second run and put the hammer down,” says Chodounsky. “The top starts out a little flat before finishing with a good pitch. I knew I was having a good run and coming into that pitch I took a deep breath.”
The top three from the first run, including U.S. Ski Team member and defending national slalom champion Jimmy Cochran, still had yet to go and Chodounsky was forced to sit at the bottom and wait.
In the end, Chodounsky’s time held up, beating Cochran by .38 of a second for the national title.
“I didn’t know it would hold up,” says Chodounsky. “It was an unbelievable feeling. I can’t believe it.”
Chodounsky celebrated by skiing deep powder at Alyeska the day after the race.
“I’ve been skiing hard and having too much fun,” says Chodounsky.
Max Lamb, also of Crested Butte, took 15th in the slalom and finished 12th place in the super combined, a combination of times from the downhill and slalom events.
The win should move Chodounsky down in the world rankings and thus earn him a spot on the 2009-2010 U.S. Ski Team, to be announced in May.
“It’s looking good,” says Chodounsky. “I’ve been hunting for results and trying to get my rank down below 60 and this should do it.”
The slalom race from the U.S. Nationals will be televised on the Versus network, Saturday, April 11 at 4 p.m. EST and 2 p.m. Mountain Standard Time.

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