CARRABASSETT VALLEY — With one ski pole, David Chodounsky is a pretty good skier. 

With two ski poles, Chodounsky couldn’t be defeated.

In his first run of the men’s slalom Sunday at the U.S. Alpine Championships, Chodounsky shook his head as he crossed the line, and waved his ski pole in the air. He wasn’t acknowledging adulation — the pole in his right hand was cut in half.

“It’s happened so many times, that’s crazy,” Chodounsky said. “It hardly ever happens, and that’s three times now.”

Ultimately, it didn’t matter.

Chodounsky crossed the finish line with both intact in his final run and came away with the men’s slalom title at Sugarloaf, finishing with a time of 1 minute, 43.88 seconds to outduel A.J. Ginnis by .15 seconds and defend his national title. 

“It feel great,” Chodounsky said. “I’m really happy. This year, it hasn’t been the best for me, kind of a struggle at the end especially. I really wanted to come back home and make a strong showing at U.S. nationals. It really does mean a lot to me to win here.” 

Chodounsky also won the combined national title, which factors in finishes from both the slalom and super-G. He placed 20th in the super-G on Thursday. 

Chodounsky’s victory was his first this season in a year full of ups and downs. Entering the U.S. Alpine Championships, Chodounsky hadn’t had a top 10 finish since Dec. 1, 2014, in the Nor-Am Cup when he took second in the slalom. His best prior finish of 2015 was an 11-place showing in Switzerland on Jan. 11. Chodounsky had 14 DNFs this season. 

Whether Chodounsky would get win No. 1 of the season was out of his hands after he crossed the finish line as the second-to-last competitor to complete his second run. His place on the podium came down to Tim Kelley. 

“It’s nerve-wracking but you’re in a good place already,” Chodounsky said. “You cross the line, put in your good run and you’ve done all you can. I was really hoping for Timmy to put down a good one, he deserves it.” 

Unfortunately for Kelley, he bobbled once toward the top of the course and again near the bottom, losing precious time on his run. He would finish his second run in 55.43 seconds, 1.44 seconds behind Chodounsky’s final run. It left him in third place. 

Kelley’s second run was a lot like everyone else’s: tougher. The top 17 finishers all ran a faster first run than second run. Chodounsky had the fastest second run of the day, completing the course in 53.99. 

“The course was really tough second run,” Chodounsky said. “There was a lot going on. A lot of speed, a lot of straight sections then it starts turning. That makes it really tough because you have to adjust your speed to the course.” 

The course proved difficult for everyone involved as 25 skiers didn’t finish their first run and 10 more didn’t finish their final run. 

While Ginnis didn’t have the fastest second run of the day, his last trip down the mountain made the most noise. Positioned in fourth after his first run, Ginnis completed his second run in 54 seconds to grab the top spot at the time. 

“First run I wasn’t really used to the conditions,” Ginnis said. “I got a little bounced around. I had a good bottom split so I gained confidence going into the second run, knowing that if I skied well and clean I’d be right in there with the top guys.” 

While he couldn’t see it, Chodounsky could hear that his teammate had posted an impressive time. 

“I heard,” Chodounsky said. “I didn’t watch it because I was getting ready. The announcer’s voice carries all the way to the top so I could hear he had a good run. That’s the only thing that was in my head, I’m like “All right, let’s go, 100 percent.’ So I went for it, had a little mistake up top but was able to clear it up and come to the bottom with a good run.” 

From there it was a waiting game to see whether Ginnis would be able to make it on the podium. That answer came right away when Coley Oliver, running third at the time, wiped out on his second run and didn’t finish, assuring Ginnis a spot on the podium. 

Robby Kelley, who was positioned second after his first run, ended up getting disqualified before the start of the second run after it was ruled he straddled gate 55.

Sports Editor Justin Pelletier contributed to this story.

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