CARRABASSETT VALLEY — Score one for crow’s feet and weary bones.

World Cup veteran Tim Jitloff sped to his third consecutive giant slalom victory at the U.S. Alpine Championships, rallying from a modest deficit of three-hundredths of a second to leapfrog Tommy Ford on the second run Friday afternoon.

It is the sixth overall national title for Jitloff, 30, and his second at Sugarloaf. He won his first here in 2006.

Jitloff, of San Jose, Calif., turned back the clock after teenage champions Drew Duffy and Nina O’Brien stole the spotlight early in the national showcase.

“With the young buck winning the super-G the other day, Duffy, it’s really cool for us, too. It’s a privilege to be here, for sure,” Jitloff said. “I was actually sitting there today, reminiscing after the first run, thinking it would be nice to do it 10 years later, which then reminded me that I am also getting quite old.”

Giant slalom is Jitloff’s specialty. He has been within sniffing distance of a World Cup podium in the discipline, finishing fifth a handful of times. Jitloff finished in the top-15 of the GS at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.


He is generally considered the No. 2 American men’s giant slalom skier behind Ted Ligety, who elected to sit out nationals after a grueling World Cup championships.

Jitloff, so loose that he was singing along to Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” in the finishing corral after his first run, didn’t ski like a man who also could use a similar vacation.

With a second run of 1:07.52, his total time of 2:16.26 eclipsed Ford and denied eight-time U.S. champion Ford a triumphant comeback to the event from a broken femur two years ago.

“It’s a good way to go. The last two races of the year in World Cup did not go the way I wanted it to go. I was a little bummed out,” Jitloff said. “If I can end the year with a win, a national title, it’s always awesome. It’s something to be proud of, always, for sure.”

Ford, a Dartmouth College graduate from Bend, Ore., topped the first run with a time of 1:08.71. Nobody else but Jitloff was within a second of the lead on a day when staying on one’s feet was a chore.

Nick Cohee of Lake Tahoe, Calif., was third. Mark Engel of Truckee, Calif., used the best run of the afternoon session to claim fourth, with David Chodounsky of St. Paul, Minn., fifth.


Jitloff beefed up his World Cup schedule this winter.

“This year with the super-G and combined I’m a little tired,” Jitloff said “Last year with just GS I could have had two seasons and been fine. This year I felt it at the end of the season.”

The toll on his 5-foot-11, 200-pound body notwithstanding, Jitloff acknowledged that frame may have been an advantage in changing weather and course conditions.

Top-seeded Jitloff went first in a morning run that started with icy turns, glazed by an overnight rain that flash froze when the temperature dropped just below 32.

Twenty-six competitors fell or skied off-course from the first wave. Six of the top 30 had a similar misadventure second time around, including Brendan Rubie, who was third-fastest in the morning,

“(Giant slalom) now because of the heavier skis and stuff, it’s very power-oriented, but you’ve always got to be quick and have agility,” Jitloff said. “There’s a lot of things that come into play. It is tough, if you’ve got a guy like me who’s 30, been on doing this for a while, and then you’ve got a young kid who’s 17 and weighs about as much as my skis. It does make a big difference.”


Super-G winner Duffy settled for 25th.

Sam Morse of Carrabassett Valley finished 31st overall and was ninth among under-21 competitors. His older brother, Ben, also successfully completed both runs and was credited with 43rd.

“If I recall last time I was here I was out of control. This time I felt a lot more in control. Probably more tired,” Jitloff said. “My first national title was here, and I remember it being the same way. Well, well done on the Narrow Gauge. The people who put this on have done an excellent job. 

“I would say (the conditions) were very fair. I just ran. It was a little bumpy, but I felt like it was for everybody a fair deal. Obviously I probably weigh 50 pounds more than some of these kids, so I might feel it a little less than they do.”


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

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