O’Brien, Roberts Crowned Slalom Champs
Colorado natives Nina O’Brien (Edwards, Colo.) and Hig Roberts (Steamboat Springs, Colo.) snagged slalom national titles Saturday, while Sun Valley, Idaho lived up to its name featuring blue skies and sunshine to boot at the Toyota U.S. Alpine Championships.
Burke Mountain Academy alumna O’Brien continued her dominance in slalom with her second victory in as many days, having emerged victorious in Friday’s super-G. This victory brings her national title count to three, as she was crowned 2015 giant slalom national champion as well.
“It feels really good”, reflected O’Brien on her first career slalom title. “I’ve been working on my slalom a lot this season so it’s nice to see a payoff. I was a little nervous coming into the second run but I’m glad I sent it and it worked out for me.”
Lila Lapanja from Team CLIF Bar Ski Racing was in the lead first run by just 0.03-seconds, so O’Brien knew she’d have to push it to get results. “I think chasing Lila was a good position to be in,” O’Brien said, “at the same time I knew Amelia (Smart) was super close behind me, so I knew I was going to have to push it to if I wanted to be on the podium or get the win.”
When asked if she could make it three in a row, O’Brien answered with a laugh, “I don’t know, I’m not going to jinx myself!” Canada’s Amelia Smart finished second, while Lapanja grabbed third. Nina O’Brien was the top junior again Saturday.
On the men’s side, 2017 giant slalom national champion and Middlebury College graduate Roberts, who skied a full FIS Ski World Cup season – which can be quite the grind – noted that finishing off the season with a victory like this boosts the confidence.
“Today feels so good because I really wasn’t expecting this,” he said. “I’ve been focusing on GS more this year and slalom has been such a project for me, but I think that’s what makes it so rewarding for me.”
Roberts, whose brother Murphy passed away in August of 2016, added “I’m always sending it for Murph. It’s a huge part of my story and my fight. Forever motivated by him…he’s in every turn.”
Rounding out the podium were Mark Engel (Truckee, Calif.) and AJ Ginnis (Vouliagmeni, Greece). River Radamus (Edwards, Colo.) was the top junior for the second day in a row, finishing fifth overall in the slalom.
The U.S. Alpine Championships action continues Sunday with men’s giant slalom, followed by women’s giant slalom on Monday.
HOW TO WATCH
Toyota U.S. Alpine Championships
11:30 a.m. - Men’s giant slalom run 1, Sun Valley – U.S. Ski & Snowboard Live Stream
2:30 p.m. - Men’s giant slalom run 2, Sun Valley – U.S. Ski & Snowboard Live Stream
12:00 p.m. - women’s slalom, Sun Valley - NBCSN