AJ Ginnis

Greece

  • 1994-11-17
  • Greece
  • 179 cm
The eventful career of AJ Ginnis
The eventful career of AJ Ginnis
The eventful career of AJ Ginnis
The eventful career of AJ Ginnis
The eventful career of AJ Ginnis
The eventful career of AJ Ginnis
The eventful career of AJ Ginnis
The eventful career of AJ Ginnis

Alpine

The eventful career of AJ Ginnis

The guys from the Czech wintersports magazine SNOW have conducted a detailed interview with the Greek shooting star AJ Ginnis and we don't want to keep it from you. He spoke at length about his youth, his setbacks and his motivations. Be inspired by a truly impressive mindset!

Courtesy of Michaela Kratochvilova, SNOW Magazine Czech Republic

Let’s start from your childhood – where did you make your first steps on snow? And how has it all started? You were born in Athens and lived by the sea, that's an exciting combination. Which tradition has skiing in your family?

I was very fortunate to be born into a skiing family. Not a skiracing family, but a skiing family. My dad ran the ski school up in Mount Parnassos and was the Fischer Rep for Greece. Skiing was just a sport my family loved and was associated with us in vacationing and all that stuff. But yeah, while growing up it was nothing more than a passion and a hobby.

Who first realized that you were a talented skier? Have you already moved to Austria with the idea that it would help you to become a professional ski racer?

I moved to Austria when I was 12 years old just for the winters with the hopes of learning a new language and experience a new culture. Skiing was just a kind of a byproduct of experiencing this new culture. And truth to be told, I sucked the first year and a half of ski racing in Austria. You know, I was definitely made fun of and all that stuff but for me it was something that I really loved. And then obviously I think two years later when I was 14, I started winning some Austrian cup races and that was the first time people saw that I might have some potential.

Many young people quit skiing because they want to spend more time with their friends and they realize that sport is a lot about discipline. Was that ever an issue for you? Was there a period when you would have preferred to be a normal teenager?

When I first moved to Austria when I was 12 years old I definitely rebelled against the idea. You know, I was 12, all my friends were in Greece, I wanted to have some independence, hanging out with them, play basketball, socialize, etc. When I was picked out of my group and I was sent to a foreign country with a foreign language with people I didn't know I obviously rebelled against the idea. But I kind of learned how to make my friends through skiing and how to built my social circle surrounding the sport as well. So it was definitely good. Looking back at it now I'm very fortunate to have different worlds of social cultures, I have my ski friends and my non-ski friends. You definitely make everything work, I think it's a poor excuse to say you're sacrificing your social life.

You were 15 when you moved again - to the USA. Was it easy or difficult for you to get used to a new home again?

Moving to the US was a hard one. We mentioned it earlier, leaving friends and now I had friends in Austria and I had friends in Greece, and I had to leave all that behind to move to the US again. But again I was very fortunate that this sport has some very great people in it, so even moving to a new place, new language and new culture again I was able to fit right in.

Many skiers speak about the difference between skiing in Europe and North/South America. Are there differences and what is the difference for you?

Yeah there are definitely differences between skiing in Europe and in the US. I was in Colorado with an extremely high altitude and very dry snow, you ski on the East Coast which is very rainy and very icy. We were skiing a lot of ice and hard surfaces. And here in Europe you get a little bit of everything. So just having the variety and being fortunate to ski in all this conditions while growing up was definitely an advantage for me.

You had the chance to participate in NorAm and Europa Cup. Which of those experiences gave you more for your later career?

Personally I raced a good amount of Europa Cups and NorAms. But at a younger age I feel like I should a raced more NorAms than Europa Cups. You know, when I first started racing World Cups I was always in that 50 to 60 Bib range because since I was already in Europa Cup my points were higher than they should have been. That versus giving myself a chance and racing a full time NorAm circle, learning how to win, learning how to put a season together with consistency and speed. So two very different things, but I feel like if you're a North American NorAm is definitely very, very important but also getting the exposure on Europa Cup not only having two countries represented in each race is also extremely beneficial.

Was your World Cup debut something special for you? Do you still remember the unique atmosphere at Madonna di Campiglio?

Yeah, my first World Cup was a dream came true and back then in 2014 we also had the traditional US ski team rookie haircut. I grew up my entire life with very long hair and I remember cutting it out and telling myself that I'm cutting it for my very first World Cup and getting the mullet. It was given to me by Ted Ligety and the rest of the US ski team veterans and you know, it was a great moment for me and definitely a dream came true. My first race in the big weeks and obviously to have done it in Madonna in the Night Slalom was just incredible.

How did you come to the decision to switch from the U.S. Ski Team to Greece? Was it difficult for you to suddenly be on a smaller team, or is it an advantage that you can choose who you want to work with?

So the decision came in spring of 2020. I was cut from the US ski team in the spring of 2018, tore my ACL and my MCL the following year and came back skiing 2019/20. I had a pretty good year, won some NorAm races and than Covid hit. Finally, when I asked the ski team if I'll be back on the team they told me they don't know. I mean with Covid at that point things were quite messy. But I saw the opportunity to ski for Greece. Skiing for Greece the first year was definitely not easy, we had no money, all the money I received was basically privately funded by sponsors and I didn't have any big results to attract any big sponsorships. So we made it all work with a small budget but looking back now three years later, I'm definitely in a better position than I would be if I still was at the US ski team. The funding is better, I get to pick where and when I wanna train and with whom, we have more flexibility and it's easier to travel. There are good and bad things about not being part of a big federation because there are some things that are a lot work for me to do being part of the Greek time but at the end of the day this is my passion, this is my project and I'm very happy this is how it ended up going.

Unfortunately, you have had to deal with some serious injuries in your career. What gave you the strength and determination to come back - and come back stronger?

Ski racing is a very challenging sport and there's a lot of races during the season because a lot of things can happen. Last year I was coming out from an ACL injury and I started off slow, had to get back to the rhythm, had some races, the skiing was good but it just like never was coming together. And then it finally came in Chamonix and again at the World Champs and then Palisades, that was a little unfortunate with being on the wrong side of the gate, apparently. But at skiing you have to put everything into the big picture, you can not microanalyze every single race. For me the big picture is how the skiing is and when the skiing is good that's the most important thing.

You have skis and boots from Fischer - why did you choose this company? What is important to you so that you can rely 100% on your equipment? Are you involved in the preparation/development of the skis? Do you also use Fischer skis in your free time when you go skiing with family and friends?

Fischer for me is a big part of the reason why I'm skiing. You know, my dad having the ski school and being the Fischer representative in Greece, that's why I started skiing. And I started skiing on Fischer since I was the first time on skis and then that continued until my FIS years, my NorEm and Europacup years and on the World Cup. Being with a company that I can trust and on the other side how the believe in my abilities and my team, that's one of the most important things. This year we were able to participate at the development of skis, we did a really good job and took some steps forward. Hopefully the factory feels the same way, too. And yeah, I never skied on anything other than Fischer.

Do you follow other sports? What are your hobbies? And what activities help you to relax between races?

I love sports, everything from Basketball to American Football to Soccer to Track & Field, Gymnastics, everything that's competitive I love to watch. I always loved to play sports myself, it's a big part of my life. I enjoy to go to the Gym and work on my body, that's one of my favorite things to do and when everything is done I go gaming on the Xbox.

AJ Ginnis uses

RC4 Podium RD 150

RC4 Podium RD 150