The skier who “refuses to lose” gave the first world medal to Greece
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The skier who “refuses to lose” gave the first world medal to Greece

February 19, 2023 was a historic day for skiing in Greece. Alexander Ginnis (AJ Ginnis) finished second in the technical descent of the World Alpine Skiing Championships in Courchevel, France and thus became the first Greek skier to win a medal in a World Championship. The most impressive thing is that the top athlete had failed to represent his country at the Beijing Winter Olympics due to a very serious injury. The triumph at the World Championships came after repeated injuries, 6 knee surgeries, endless stubbornness, will and perseverance.

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Alexander Ginnis was born and raised in Vouliagmeni and started to practice winter sports in Parnassos next to his father, who was a ski instructor. During his lessons he met the mother of the Greek champion, who is originally from America. At the age of 12 he moved with his family to Austria where his father worked during the winter months. There, skiing soon became more than just a hobby. He moved to America at the age of 16 and took his first competitive skiing and lessons at the famous Green Mountain Valley School. Two years later, he joined the US ski team.

The difficulties of injuries appeared only at the age of 18, when he tore his anterior cruciate ligament. However, just the following year he managed to make his World Cup debut with a slalom in Madonna di Campiglio, Italy. In 2014, he won a bronze medal in the slalom at the World Junior Championships in Hafgel, Norway and went on to win major awards and medals at Europa Cup, NorAm and national championships. While his career was at its most upward point, having qualified for the 2018 World Championships in Piz Nair, Switzerland with the US team, various internal problems in the US federation and the knee injuries that plagued him seemed to deprive him of participating in world championships. Then, the Greek Winter Sports Federation approached him and gave him the opportunity to compete in Greek colours from 2020, a move that would prove to be historic for the sport in the country.

In January 2021, at the age of 26, Ginnis managed to become the first Greek skier to score points at a World Cup, finishing 11th in Flahau, Austria. In the same year, he was ranked 15th in the world skiing rankings and said he was excited to do it in Greece’s colours. He was well aware of the impact such a success had on a country that was not previously renowned for the achievements of its athletes in skiing. The top athlete continued to write Greece’s name in the history of world skiing and on 4 February he became the first Greek to win a medal in a World Cup series race. His last first and biggest – until the next – moment in his career came on Sunday (19/2), when he won the silver medal in the technical descent of the Alpine Skiing World Championships. The gold medal was won by Henrik Krysoffersen of Norway, while Italy’s Alex Vinacher was third. Ginnis was second after the opening run and maintained his position as he finished two-tenths of a second behind Christoffersen.

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Gini’s first attempt:

Gini’s second attempt:

He refuses to lose

His next goal is to distinguish himself at the Winter Olympics in Milan and Cortina, which will be held in 2026. As he has stated, no difficulty is capable of coming between him and his goals. Despite pressure from those close to him to stop skiing after his six surgeries, he has continued against all odds. “This is the message I want to pass on to young kids: never give up on your dreams and goals and anything can happen,” the Greek champion has said in the past.