Alpine

Roberts Sends It for Murph and Grabs GS Title

by
Megan Harrod
2017-03-28 16:14
 

SUGARLOAF, ME (Mar. 28, 2017) – In the final race of the U.S. Alpine Championships Tuesday in Sugarloaf, Maine, Hig Roberts (Steamboat Springs, CO) edged out seven-time national champion Tim Jitloff (Reno, NV – U.S. Ski Team) for the giant slalom national title.

Roberts, a former U.S. Ski Team and Middlebury College athlete, showed courage and strength in rugged conditions – powering through the thick fog to his first national title. Jitloff was second, just .14 seconds off the pace and 2016 national giant slalom champion Kieffer Christianson (Anchorage, AK) finished third, .29 seconds out. Tanguy Nef, who hails from Switzerland and competes for Dartmouth, was the top junior of the day, grabbing eighth.

Ryan Cochran-Siegle (Starksboro, VT – U.S. Ski Team) who grabbed the national title in this year’s super G, posted the fastest time in a rainy, challenging first run, but DNFed second run. Roberts was well-aware that Cochran-Siegle and Jitloff would be charging second run and “sent it for Murph” – his brother, who passed away last August – to come out on top. Though he was ecstatic to win, he wished Murphy were there to cheer him on.

“These days are awesome…but It’s very tough,” said Roberts. “I believe that I’m doing this for a reason, and I’m doing well right now because I’m keeping him close to my heart and I’m not letting that special bond and push he always had for me go away. Every run is for Murphy…he’s the last thing I think about before I push out of the start gate, and that run I came down the pitch and got bumped around, and I actually yelled his name out, so I’ve – in a lot of ways – made this season about him. He wants me to keep charging, so that’s what I’m doing.”


A stoked 2017 giant slalom podium at Sugarloaf, from left to right - Kieffer Christianson (third), Hig Roberts (first) and Tim Jitloff (second). (U.S. Ski Team - Reese Brown)

Jitloff won his first national title at Sugarloaf in 2008 and has skied on the famed Narrow Gauge track a lot.  “I do have an affection for the hill,” Jitloff reflected. “I’ve obviously had some great results here. National titles aren’t that easy to get. I have seven of them, and each one of those was hard work to get – it wasn’t an easy thing to do.” But he gave credit where credit is due, congratulating Roberts on his victory. “I think Hig can be pretty proud of himself today. He skied great in very challenging, difficult conditions.”

Christianson – who, like Roberts, skis independently – was happy to share the podium with Roberts after a challenging season. “We both skied independently this year,” Christianson said, “and had to do our own logistics and find our own training – so to share the podium here at U.S. nationals is just awesome.”

In the 2017 U.S. Alpine Championships' Tom Garner Regions Cup, the East came out on top, beating out the West by a slim six-point margin – 2089 to 2083.

Tuesday’s giant slalom marks the end of U.S. Alpine Championships and the official end of the season for the U.S. Ski Team. Athletes will now get a small break before they head to their first 2018 prep camps of the year.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Hig Roberts powered through thick fog to win his first national title in Tuesday’s giant slalom – the final event of U.S. Alpine Championships in Sugarloaf, Maine.
  • Tim JItloff, seven-time national champion, who won his first national giant slalom title in Sugarloaf in 2008, was second.
  • 2016 national giant slalom champion Kieffer Christianson finished third.
  • Switzerland’s Tanguy Nef – who competes for Dartmouth – was the top junior, finishing in eighth.
  • In the 2017 U.S. Alpine Championships Tom Garner Regions Cup, the East came out on top, beating out the West by a slim six-point margin – 2089 to 2083.
     

QUOTES

Hig Roberts
[On skiing independently, and losing his brother earlier this season]
It’s been a very weird season for me…I’ve been independent this year, so a lot of this has been on my own. I’ve had a lot of help from the community in a lot of ways, but being away from my family is insanely hard a lot of the time. Sometimes, it’s hard to find people to really connect with on this level. It’s a very tough thing to go through, but this season – I wish it wasn’t like this and I would do anything not for it to be like this – but I find deep internal motivation for my little brother, because we had a lot of bonds around ski racing.

I’ve always kind of been the underdog, and he has as well, and he always saw me as someone who could do anything and keep pushing this dream I have. To not have him here is the most empty feeling in the world. These days are awesome – but you want to have a call with him, you want him to text you. It’s very tough. But, I believe that I’m doing this for a reason, and I’m doing well right now because I’m keeping him close to my heart and I’m not letting that special bond and push he always had for me go away. Every run is for Murphy. I wear a “Send it for Murph” sticker on my helmet…he’s the last thing I think about before I push out of the start gate, and that run I came down the pitch and got bumped around, and I actually yelled his name out, so I’ve – in a lot of ways – made this season about him. He wants me to keep charging, so that’s what I’m doing.

Tim Jitloff
The top was pretty dark, and the bottom was pretty much zero visibility so it was definitely challenging. It opened up a little in the middle there, but it had all of the makings of a challenging second run. The conditions were really, really difficult…visibility was difficult. I tried to fight through as best I could; I found myself in some trouble – I went on my hip in the top section there, just because I was trying to go for it. Then, after that, I think I was just trying to really stay consistent the way down. It was very difficult today. Full credit to Hig (Roberts) for winning the race, and staying strong through that.

I’ve raced here a lot. I do have an affection for the hill. I’ve obviously had some great results here. National titles aren’t that easy to get. I have seven of them, and each one of those was hard work to get – it wasn’t an easy thing to do. I think Hig can be pretty proud of himself today. He skied great, in very challenging, difficult conditions.

Kieffer Christianson
It feels great to be on the podium. I think I competed as well as I could today. My GS hasn’t been totally on form…I didn’t feel totally in sync with my skiing, but mentally I was really on it today and was able to compete. I came out here and performed better than I have pretty much all season, so I’m super proud of that. And, to share it with Hig (Roberts), is just awesome. We both skied independently this year, and had to do our own logistics and find our own training – so to share the podium here at U.S. nationals is just awesome.

RESULTS
Men’s giant slalom