O’Brien was in attendance at Wednesday’s men’s super-G event when she watched her boyfriend unexpectedly take the title. On Thursday, the roles were reversed. 

With Duffy watching in the crowd Thursday, O’Brien took home the women’s giant slalom title with a combined time of 2 minutes, 22.30 seconds at Sugarloaf. O’Brien entered the second run in the lead after posting the fastest time in the first run at 1:12.18. 

Despite losing an edge near the finish line, O’Brien solidified her place atop the podium, edging out Paula Moltzan by .37 seconds. 

“I was just trying to hang on to the finish,” O’Brien said. “It was a little wild down here.” 

O’Brien, a member of the FIS Women’s National Training Group, said she couldn’t remember ever being in the situation in which she found herself as she prepared for her second run and a chance at a national title. 

“I was so nervous,” O’Brien said. “I haven’t been in that position in a big race like this. …  I knew I was going to have to ski fast. I just tried to have fun and not think about the first run.” 

Advertisement

The Burke Mountain Academy skier from Squaw Valley posted her second giant slalom career victory. Her first win in the event was in a national junior event in Passo Rolle, Italy, on Jan. 31. She also has three career slalom victories, including at this year’s Junior Nationals in Colorado. 

It was a little bit of redemption for O’Brien, who didn’t finish in last year’s national championships on her home course. 

O’Brien’s final run of the day bumped Moltzan off the top spot after Moltzan had briefly grabbed the lead less than a minute earlier. Moltzan entered the final run in second place after a first run of 1:12.54. She overtook Megan McJames for first with just O’Brien left to complete her second run after finishing with a combined time of 2:22.67. 

Moltzan watched from the finish line to see if her time would hold up, only to see O’Brien meet her at the bottom of the course with the top mark and the championship. 

“I was just hoping the best for her,” Moltzan said of O’Brien. “She’s been great since she was a little girl. She’s not so little anymore. She’s pretty fast. I’m excited for her.” 

While many competing in the giant slalom are seasoned in the event, some gave it a shot for the first time in a long time. Not since the 2012 U.S. Alpine Championships in Winter Park, Colo., has Alice McKennis competed in the giant slalom. She finished 28th that year. 

Advertisement

She fared better Thursday, finishing 15th in 2:25.81. McKennis sat in 18th place after the first run before posting the ninth fastest second run (1:10.37). 

McKennis favors the speed events, having won the women’s super-G on Wednesday, but was up for the challenges that the giant slalom brings. 

“It’s been about three years since I raced GS so it’s kind of fun to go out there and feel a little nervous and start to get down,” McKennis said. “It seems super quick. You just have to be on it all the time.” 

Eighteen skiers in the 57-person field either didn’t finish, didn’t start or were disqualified after their first run. Three didn’t finish their second run, including Jacqueline Wiles, who was in third place after the first run. 

#USALPINE

Sun Journal coverage of the U.S. Alpine Championship includes:


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.