Switzerland's Ramon Zenhaeusern, center, winner of an alpine ski, men's World Cup slalom, celebrates on the podium with second-placed Greece's Aj Ginnis, left, and third-placed Switzerland's Daniel Yule, in Chamonix, France, Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023. (AP Photo/Pier Marco Tacca)
CHAMONIX, France — Ramon Zenhaeusern threw his ski poles in the air Saturday right after finishing the last men’s World Cup slalom before the world championships.
The Swiss skier had just beaten unheralded AJ Ginnis, who was just as pleased with his second place. Zenhaeusern finished 1.02 seconds ahead of Ginnis, who became the first skier from Greece on a World Cup podium.
“That was an emotional outburst,” Zenhaeusern said. “I had a long drought. That I finish with the green light and with such an advantage, that was a huge relief.”
It was Zenhaeusern’s sixth career win but first since December 2020. His Swiss teammate Daniel Yule was four-hundredths further back in third.
“The world champs begin from zero, so I enjoy now the moment and world champs (slalom) is in two weeks,” Zenhaeusern said.
Olympic champion Clement Noel, who led after the first run, and Norwegian favorite Henrik Kristoffersen both straddled gates and failed to finish their second run.
Wearing bib 45, Ginnis was 21st after the opening leg before posting the fastest time in the second.
“Really unbelievable, a dream,” said Ginnis, whose career has been marred by knee injuries. “Last year, I tore my ACL again so I had to come back again. Everything went well today, I had luck and I skied well.”
Ginnis, who was born in Greece and whose wife is American, was 12 when he moved to Austria with his father, a ski instructor. He went to the United States three years later and competed for the U.S. ski team at the 2017 worlds.
He was dropped from its program following several injuries, and has been starting for Greece since 2018. His previous best result was 11th from a slalom in Austria two years ago.
American skier Jett Seymour finished seventh and the Steamboat Springs, Colorado native scored World Cup points for the first time in 27 World Cup starts.
“I’m pretty stoked,” Seymour said. “I’ve been skiing well both the last two years, it just hadn’t come together and I’ve had to push through a lot of mental struggles.”
Seymour’s teammate Luke Winters finished 12th to complete the strong showing by the U.S. team.
Lucas Braathen, who leads the discipline standings, sat out the race after undergoing surgery for appendicitis this week. The Norwegian is doubtful for the worlds, where the men’s slalom is the closing event on Feb 19.
Braathen had his lead in the slalom standings reduced to 36 points over Yule, while Kristofferen is 41 points behind in third.
The World Cup season contains two more slaloms after the worlds, which start Monday.
The Athens derby between AEK and Panathinaikos, at the start of the round-robin playoffs on Sunday, ended in a stalemate, a result that probably benefits leader Panathinaikos as well as fellow challengers Olympiakos and PAOK, that scored away wins on Sunday.
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