Ginnis in front of colleague. It sounds like a rap concert in an Irish pub. In fact, however, Samuel Kollega and Alexander Ginnis are ski racers from Croatia and Greece. And Ginnis, the man from Athens, went down in the history of this sport this Saturday, or rather, carved it. He was the first Greek to climb onto the podium in a World Cup race. And only one could conquer him on that memorable day.
Charmonx, France, final slalom World Cup before World Ski Championships, heat two, decider. A man with the start number 45 on his chest is standing at the top of the starting house. In the first round, the only Greek in the starting field managed an excellent dance through the gate below Mont Blanc. As 23rd of the first round he now went into the final of this race and put a Greek sirtaki between the gates. Ginnis crossed the finish line with the best time and eight tenths ahead of Kollega. With this specification they all had problems, almost all of them.
The German Alexander Schmid, unexpectedly strong and tenth after race one, dropped out on the penultimate goal. The Italian Alexander Vinatzer, however, only fell after the last goal and fell over the finish line in eighth place on the day. Linus Straßer, who was dramatically caught up in the second gate in the night slalom in Schladming, finished sixth with two rather restrained but solid performances. The Norwegian Lucas Braathen didn’t even start because of an appendectomy, his compatriot Henrik Kristoffersen dropped out in race two – just like the Frenchman Clement Noel and Schladming winner Loic Meillard from Switzerland. Only one could withstand the pressure of the Greek best time: Ramon Zenhaeusern showed his talent in Piste Sirtaki, even if he doesn’t come from Greece, but from Switzerland. Like Daniel Yule, who finished third just behind Ginnis.
In January 2021, Ginnis became the first Greek to score World Cup points in a ski race
Later that early Saturday afternoon, Alexander Ginnis’ eyes could be seen glistening with droplets in the sunlight. “Absolutely incredible,” he said at the TV microphone. “I still don’t really understand what’s going on.” Minutes later he was nearing comprehension. “I fought for so long,” explained the 28-year-old. “So many damn injuries.” He just wanted to thank everyone who still believed in me. The family, the sponsors, the friends.
They call him “AJ” and for the last two years, AJ has not only been known to insiders in the ski scene. In January 2021, Ginnis was the first Greek to score World Cup points in a ski race, and he finished eleventh in the slalom in Flachau, which gave him 24 points. And as strange as that sounds, Alexander Ginnis started the race with number 45 back then.
The pretty story of the historian from Athens is also and above all characterized by massive setbacks, more precisely: serious injuries. Six cruciate ligament tears run through his career, Ginnis’ bane of records. He has had six knee operations, Ginnis recalled, before he climbed onto the podium alongside Sieger Zenhaeusern. “I’ve come back so many times,” he said. Now he was rewarded – at a not entirely unfavorable point in time. In two weeks, on February 19th, the men’s slalom will take place at the World Ski Championships in Courchevel and Méribel. Featuring new secret Greek favorite “AJ” Ginnis.