CARRABASSETT VALLEY — The first racer of the day had just completed his first run of the men’s giant slalom, and now, Tim Jitloff watched Tommy Ford ski the course. As Johnny Cash’s classic “Ring of Fire” played over the public address system, Jitloff sang along.

A few hours later, after he had won his third giant slalom national title in a row, Jitloff confessed. His impromptu concert wasn’t the result of feeling relaxed after a strong run.

“That’s a good indicator that I’m a little tired now,” Jitloff, 30, and a veteran of the U.S. Ski Team, said. “Everybody’s tired, but it’s good to be here.”

The win was the sixth national title of Jitloff’s career and his fifth in the giant slalom. That this one was his third straight in the GS — and came at Sugarloaf, where Jitloff won his first national championship in 2008 — made it a little sweeter. Friday’s win, combined with his fourth place finish in Wednesday’s Super G competition, helped make Jitloff’s trip to Maine a happy one.

“I was actually sitting and thinking and reminiscing a little bit today between runs, it would be nice to do it,” Jitloff said. “But that reminded me I’m also getting quite old… My first national title was here, and I remember it being the same way. Really well done on the Narrow Gauge, and obviously the people who have put this on did an excellent job.”

Jitloff may be getting old, but he’s still got something left. Jitloff’s first run time of 1 minute, 8.74 seconds trailed Ford by three-hundredths of a second going into the final run. Jitloff’s second run time of 1:07.52 gave him the lead, then, as he had in the morning, Jitloff had to watch Ford make his run.

Ford’s second run time of 1:07.97 gave Jitloff his threepeat.

“I’ve always known Nationals is Tommy Ford’s stomping grounds, so maybe it was good he was leading after the first run. Put a little pressure on him, and maybe I can claw my way back,” Jitloff said.

It was a day on which a number of skiers had trouble on the course. Only 54 of the first run’s 80 skiers finished the course. Ten more competitors either did not finish or were disqualified on run two. Jitloff’s experience and size (his U.S. Ski Team bio lists Jitloff as 5-foot-11, 200 pounds) were key. While many of the younger skiers had trouble staying on course, Jitloff cruised.

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

“GS now — because of the heavier skis and stuff — it’s very power orientated, but you also have to be quick and have agility. There’s a lot of things that come into play. It is tough if you’ve got a guy like me who’s 30 and has done this for a while, and you’ve got a young kid, a teen who weighs about as much as my skis. It is a bit of a big difference.”

The championship doesn’t just give Jitloff another title for his resume. It gives him success at the end of a tough season. Jitloff’s best finish in his last four World Cup races was a 10th place in Germany earlier this month, and included a did not finish two weeks ago in Slovakia. At the World Championships last month in Vail, Colo. Jitloff placed ninth in the giant slalom.

It was a long season. Jitloff added the Super G to his competition schedule after focusing on just the giant slalom last season. Fatigue was a factor. Another national title makes everything feel good.

“It’s a good way to go. The last few races I had at the end of the year in World Cup did not go how I wanted it to go, so I was a little bummed out,” Jitloff said. “If I could end the year on a win, a national title, that’s always awesome. That’s something to be proud of, always.”

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or 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.