SQUAW VALLEY — If Tim Jitloff had his way, the U.S. Alpine Championships would be held at Squaw Valley every spring.
The Truckee native lit up his home fans with a dominant performance Friday to claim his second consecutive U.S. giant slalom title at Squaw Valley.
“I’ve got family and friends here that come up from this area and I definitely wanted it. So I had to get down and I had to get down fast. I’m psyched that I did it in front of everybody. It’s a good feeling,” said Jitloff, a Truckee High grad who now calls Reno home.
“It was sketchy in there for a second, but I kept it solid, I kept it safe. When I got down at the bottom here I did charge to make sure I got in there. I just put down two good ones today, two solid ones. I didn’t do anything over the top.”
Jitloff, who also won an FIS GS race at Squaw Valley on Wednesday, posted a 1.61-second margin of victory over runner-up Brennan Rubie of Salt Lake City.
Fellow Olympian Jared Goldberg rounded out the podium, while Olympic gold medalist and World Cup GS champion Ted Ligety slid out on his second run on one of the steeper sections of the demanding Red Dog course.
“It’s the end of the season. When it’s this intense of a hill, it’s definitely a big challenge,” Ligety said. “I was running on fumes even in the World Cup during the last little bit, so it’s always difficult to come and try to compete at a super high level at the very end of the season.”
Bryce Astle and U.S. Development Team members Tanner Farrow and AJ Ginnis finished 1-2-3 among junior racers.
Aside from Jitloff, the race featured numerous Tahoe-area skiers, from established veterans to up-and-comers.
Nick Cohee out of Kirkwood finished eighth, while Sugar Bowl skier Mark Engel of Truckee and the University of Utah placed 11th. Ty Sprock, another Sugar Bowl skier from Stateline, finished 23rd, Garret Driller of Squaw Valley was 26th and Bryce Bennett of Squaw was 28th. Addison Dvoracek finished 30th, James Lebel 41st, Sean Higgins 42nd, Cody Wilson 43rd and Jordan Cashman 47th.
Olympians Marco Sullivan and Travis Ganong, meanwhile, both of whom grew up racing at Squaw Valley, competed but failed to finish their first runs.
That didn’t stop hordes of eager young fans from surrounding Ganong near the finish area, holding out anything from paper to American flags to their own arms and even foreheads for him to autograph. Ganong was happy to oblige.
“I signed a baby yesterday,” he said when asked about his most odd autograph request. “It’s pretty crazy. I’ve never been anywhere in the world where there’s this kind of demand for signatures. It’s pretty cool.
“It’s unreal to be home and have all the hometown support and see all these kids out here watching us today,” Ganong continued. “Ski racing is such a fun sport. It’s such a great way to enjoy the mountains, and our community of North Lake Tahoe is amazing. They’re so supportive. There must be a thousand kids out here today. Hopefully I can help inspire the next generation of Tahoe Olympians.”
The U.S. Alpine Championships continue Saturday with the men’s and women’s slalom races.
— The U.S. Ski Team contributed to this story.