Olympic Dreams

The Olympics in Sochi, Russia have come to a close.  Unfortunately, I didn’t fare as well as I had hoped.  I hooked a tip and straddled a gate about half way down my first run, ending my hopes to be decorated with medal of any color.  Nevertheless, I lived my Olympic dream!

After choking down the disappointment of not finishing the biggest race of my career, the magnitude of the occasion settled in, and I realized that I had just lived the moment I had been striving for my entire life.  It was an incredible and unforgettable experience.  It is still hard to believe that it actually happened, that I raced in the Olympic games, among the worlds best, representing my country, family, and friends.

I want to thank all of my supporters for helping me all the way to Sochi to actually live the Olympic dream.  I will never forget the moment and those who got me there.  Thank you for believing in me!

 

Here is an interview, done by one of my many supporters, Than Acuff, from my hometown newspaper: The Crested Butte News.  Thank you CB!

Chodounsky closes out Olympics, returns to World Cup

Written by Than Acuff

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

“It was an experience I’ll never forget”

 

David Chodounsky’s Olympic debut came to an abrupt end, straddling a gate on the first of two slalom runs on Saturday, February 22. Nevertheless, once the disappointment dissipated, he realized the historic moment for what it was and now returns to the World Cup ski racing circuit. As for 2018 Pyeongchang, we’ll see.

You had quality training in Germany, how was the training in Sochi?
The training in Sochi wasn’t too bad. It was really warm so conditions were very like spring/summer camp. Salted slushy snow, but when it’s really warm, the salt actually makes the snow pretty good for racing.

How were your physical and mental states?
I felt great. I felt strong and during warm-up the day of the race, I was skiing well. I was pretty relaxed the whole time, too. I felt like I did everything right going into the race. I wouldn’t have changed my preparation at all.

When you got to the race venue, what did you think?
I was just going about it as any other race—I was just pumped up and ready to go.

What was your game plan for the slalom?
I was skiing well so I was ready to ski fast. The snow was pretty aggressive so my skis were gripping quite a bit in the first run, which was different from the warm-up earlier, so I was a little caught off guard and I over-skied the pitch a bit, I think. It wasn’t my fastest skiing, but I started to get it rolling towards the middle of the run. It wasn’t going to be the fastest run if I had gotten to the finish, but I think it would have been in the mix and set me up well for the second run. It was a fast section of the course when I went through the flush that I straddled. I guess I just cut the line a little too much coming out of the flush to set up for the next part of the course over a little roll. I couldn’t believe it when my ski tip caught the gate and I straddled. It’s the worst. There is no recovery move you can make to stay in the course—you’re just out.

I heard the course was notoriously tough. True?
The courses were pretty tough. It wasn’t too bad. On the World Cup you see courses like that and are ready for skiing into tight, difficult, and arhythmic turns at high speeds and odd gate sets like you saw at the Olympics. But at the Olympics you have racers from countries all over the world, with all skill levels, who haven’t seen anything close to that. For them, I think it was pretty unfair. The second run looked very brutal. It didn’t exactly bring out the best skiing of all the world-class athletes. I still would have loved a shot at the second run, but, oh well.

Unusual amount of nerves in the start gate?
It really wasn’t too bad. I thought I was going to be pretty nervous at the start, but I was focused on my skiing. I really wasn’t that nervous.

How was the overall experience?
It was so cool just being a part of Sochi. Obviously it was a bummer and I was crushed right after the race, but that’s the way it goes. Especially in slalom. I wasn’t the only one. A lot of the top guys and favorites went out. When you’re there beforehand, you are so focused on the race that the only thing in your mind leading up to the event is the race itself, and in the moment, it is all that matters, as it should. So when I went out it was devastating. It’s such a flood of emotions and energy at the Olympics, it’s crazy! It is just another race, but it is the Olympics.
But afterwards, once everything calmed down, I could reflect and I felt so honored to have been a part of the Olympic games and represent the USA. The day after the race, I went to the gold medal hockey game and the closing ceremonies before we flew out. It was so awesome. There, it sunk in that I was a part of something bigger than a slalom race. It was a worldwide celebration of the world’s best athletes. We walked into the enormous stadium, all the workers and volunteers congratulating us and all the spectators cheering. So cool to be in the middle of it all! The energy at the athlete village afterwards was really cool. It’s like all the pressure had been released and all the athletes were giddy, messing around and cruising around on bicycles—and eating all the free McDonald’s we could.
It was such an honor to be a part of Olympic history. That dream came true for me and it really is unbelievable. It still is surreal to me that it actually happened.

What now in the short term?
We are back in Austria now getting ready for the rest of the season. We have two World Cups left, one in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia March 9 and World Cup finals in Switzerland March 16. I’m ready for a little revenge. Then finally back home for US Nationals in Squaw Valley at the end of March.

And finally, given that the top slalom racer is currently, I believe, 33 years old and you’re 29, does 2018 even enter your mind or are you just thinking about continuing your climb on the World Cup circuit and see what’s happening then?
Well the Olympic gold medal was just won by Mario Matt who is 34. And so many of the top guys are in their early 30s. I haven’t really set a plan for myself that far ahead. Next year, the World Championships are at Beaver Creek so I definitely want to do that. I feel like I’m still getting better every year, so I will keep charging on the World Cup for now. If it all lines up for Pyeongchang in 2018, that would be pretty cool to live it again, but it’s not the end all, be all.
It was an experience I’ll never forget. After the race, I got so many emails and words of support and encouragement, especially from Crested Butte! It was overwhelming and such an honor to represent everyone who supported me at the Olympics. I felt like you were all there with me.