CARRABASSETT VALLEY — Competitors in the men’s slalom race at the U.S. Alpine Championships thought the slick conditions Sunday on the Narrow Gauge course at Sugarloaf translated into unpredictable, hard-to-read terrain.

But for AJ Ginnis, battling through the difficult course allowed him to experience the joy of edging his U.S. Ski Team teammate, four-time national champion David Chodounsky.

While Ginnis pumped his fists after winning his first national title, Chodounsky, who waited at the end of the course after his run, bowed down to his younger teammate.

“He’s one of the fastest skiers in the world,” Ginnis said of Chodounsky. “I couldn’t hold back. To beat him is amazing.”

Ginnis, a 22-year-old native of Greece who moved to the U.S. as a teenager and attended the Green Mountain Valley School in Vermont, turned in a two-run time of 1 minute, 35.75 seconds to edge Chodounsky (1:35.90). Michael Ankeny, also a member of the national team, was third (1:36.63).

In the women’s race, Resi Stiegler was happy to win her first national title since 2007. She posted a combined time of 1:39.68 to beat Roni Remme of the Canadian National Development Team (1:40.60). Lila Lapanja, a U.S. Ski Team member, was third (1:40.93).

Stiegler, 31, had the fastest time in the first run (49.17), while Remme was third (49.46). Only four of 65 athletes broke 50 seconds, and 13 did not finish the run.

The 58-turn course was hard and fast in the morning. But temperatures rose into the 40s in the afternoon, and the sun softened the top layer.

Remme, 21, skis for the University of Utah. She said the conditions were challenging in the second run.

“When I came out of the gate, it was a lot slicker than this morning,” Remme said. “It took me a long time to adjust. But then I thought, everyone is in trouble.”

Stiegler, a 15-year veteran of the U.S. Ski Team who competed in the 2006 and 2014 Winter Games, echoed those thoughts.

“I suffered down half of it,” said Stiegler, the daughter of Austrian Olympic gold medalist Pepi Stiegler. “Then I found my confidence. Halfway down I was worried. I’ve been second a lot. This definitely felt great. My best finish on the World Cup this year was a seventh. The U.S. nationals is a feel-good win.”

Chodounsky, 32, was the favorite in the men’s race, but Ginnis was the only skier under 46 seconds in the first run, at 45.76. Chodounsky was second at 46.11.

“This was a tough course,” Ginnis said. “You didn’t know what to expect. There were a couple of slick spots.”

Of the 92 skiers in the men’s race, 26 did not finish the first run.

Chodounsky agreed the course was tricky and unpredictable.

“It was a tough course. I went as hard as I could but it was slick,” Chodounsky said. “The snow on top was soft, but then underneath there was a hard layer. It slips away from you. You have to be prepared for it. It keeps you on your toes. But it’s great to race it.”

Chodounsky, who competed in the 2014 Winter Games, said he enjoyed seeing a younger member of the U.S. Ski Team win a title. Chodounsky has competed on four World Championship teams, including an 11th-place finish in slalom last month in St. Moritz, Switzerland.

“He deserves it 100 percent, props to him,” Chodounsky said of Ginnis. “These guys, they’re all right there on the World Cup circuit. It’s good to see one of them win it.”

Sam Morse, a 2013 graduate of Carrabassett Valley Academy, said he enjoyed the challenge. Morse was 19th after a first-run time of 48.55 and finished 17th with a combined time of 1:39.73 after taking fourth Saturday in the super-G.

“I was psyched to finish (in the top 20) on the first run,” Morse said. “I had a clean couple of turns. At the bottom, the hairpin turns, I had to make adjustments.

“So far, this has been my best performance at nationals.”

Deirdre Fleming can be reached at 791-6452 or:

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