Gearing and Packing with AJ Ginnis
Talking to our athletes is like digging for gold. The longer we sit there and chat, the more gold we find. And by gold, we mean handy tips, tricks, and life hacks that make things sweeter. That makes things easier.
This time, we picked Alexander J. Ginnis' (or just AJ) brain on gears and gadgets he can't live without while on the road. Born and raised in Vouliagmeni, Greece, until the age of 15, and now residing in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA, AJ knows a thing or two about ditching one continent for another.
After coming through the ranks of the US ski team, AJ switched the red and blue stripes for white and blue - representing Greece at FIS World Cup events. A man of two homes, AJ is no stranger to long flights and layovers. So what better way to get some intel on what to bring on your next trips than from the man himself.
Now, we roll back the curtain and let AJ tell you what to bring on your next trip to make it quicker, cosier, and a hell of a lot more fun...
Part of being a professional athlete is accepting that you will have to spend most of your time on the road. As much as I love my home in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA, there are no icy slopes in the vicinity to ski down.
My team and I spend approximately eight months out of the year traveling around chasing snow and the FIS Alpine World Cup Circuit. Is it fun? Absolutely, I'm fortunate enough to have traveled around the world and have experienced things I couldn't have pictured possible.
But this comes at a cost - I miss my family and friends, and they miss me. There's a lot that people don't take into consideration when thinking about the life of a professional skier. I'm here to provide you with a glimpse of what my personal suitcase(s) looks like and what gear cannot be left out when I'm on the road. Some tips might come in handy for yourself.
Backpack aka computer bag aka most trusted travel companion
If I'd have to pick one piece to bring on a trip, it would be my backpack. It's my quick access to all essentials I need. It sits by my feet on the plane/ car and will live next to my bed when I'm on the road.
Some things that do not leave this bag are my passports (Greek and USA), noise-canceling headphones, my computer, and my Hypervolt massage gun. Obviously, I'm not going anywhere (literally) without my passports, aka my' keys to the world', but I feel the same way about the other items on that list as well.
They allow me to cope with long and frequent travels. There's nothing like getting out of a long car ride/ off a flight and having your body feel absolutely trashed. No problem, though. Just spend some time with the Hypervolt, and you're feeling as good as new.
My noise-canceling headphones are something I can't live without, especially when I'm trying to get some sleep in places like Kitzbühel. This place gets pretty wild during Hahnenkamm weekend, and for obvious reasons, I usually can't join the party because I'm racing. If it gets too loud, I just throw on my headphones and play a movie on my computer until I doze off.
Take your mind off things with a game of chess
On days off, it's always fun to go exploring and familiarize yourself with the surrounding area. If for whatever reason, I cannot do that, I love spending my time on my off days playing chess. Chess allows me to relax as it takes my mind off of things I might be worrying about. To me, chess is a game of pure contest. In this game of countless possibilities, it's incredible to throw in a competitive wrinkle as you compete with other players around the world. I also like that you can play chess the old school way or play it on a flight or layover from the comfort of your phone.
All-purpose duffel bag
It's funny. Eight years ago, when I started traveling in this fashion (I was 18 years old at the time), I would try to pack as much clothing and gear as humanly possible to accommodate for every single occasion. My coaches and teammates would make so much fun of me for constantly over packing.
Over time, however, I eventually realized that less is indeed more. This is where a partner like Spyder came in and made my life so much easier as they are able to provide me with gear that I was able to use in a variety of situations and conditions without having to sacrifice performance or swag.
Some things that I will never leave behind is my toothbrush and floss, my mouth guard, but a close second are the Spyder Founders Anorak fleece, the Spyder Impulse jacket, and my trusty Spyder raincoat.
Growing up as a son of a dentist, I cannot fathom how my mom would react if I ever returned home with a cavity or a chipped tooth, so I always keep a toothbrush, floss, and my mouth guard nearby.
The Anorak fleece is hands down my favorite 'off the hill' article of clothing. Whether the temperature is deep in the negatives or just a warmer winter day, this fleece will keep me comfortable without throwing on any layers.
Similarly, the Impulse jacket keeps me comfortable on the hill within the range of temperatures the mountains throw my way. As for the raincoat... have you been skiing in Europe in the last couple of years? Enough said.
Duffel Number 2 - aka Side Duffel
This is the bag where I'll keep most of the gear I use on the hill: helmets, goggles, shin guards, gloves, neckies, etc. One thing that will always stay in there, however, is a roll of duct tape. There are about a million different things that duct tape can fix, and it's always when you don't have it that you need it most. So wherever you go, make sure to bring a roll of duct tape. It saves lives! Well, maybe not lives, but it definitely saves gear that needs a quick fix.
None of what I'm doing would be possible without my coaches. Besides everything they do for me on the ski racing side of life, we spend every day together. We are responsible for each other's sanity. Without them, I would not be able to do what I love most. Ski fast.