CARRABASSETT VALLEY — Hig Roberts looked up at the Narrow Gauge race course. The fog was too thick to see anything far beyond the finish line and a few gates, but Roberts knew Tim Jitloff was on the course, doing his Tim Jitloff thing, which is destroying giant slalom courses.

“Jit has a pretty impressive record at U.S. nationals. I remember just getting smashed by him by three seconds in the past and not understanding how he can do it,” Roberts said. “I knew he was going to come out fighting.”

When Jitloff emerged from the fog and crossed the finish line with a two-run time of 2:19.39 seconds, Roberts breathed a little easier. When first-run leader Ryan Cochran-Siegle was unable to finish his second run, Roberts had done the improbable. He beat Jitloff in the giant slalom at the U.S. Championships. Roberts’ 2:19.25 held up.

At 31, Jitloff is a veteran, and closer to the end of his career than the start. Even so, he’s still the gold standard among American men in the giant slalom. Roberts, a Steamboat Spring, Colorado native who celebrated his 26th birthday two weeks ago, knew beating Jitloff at nationals is a big deal.

“He’s a competitor. He’s a veteran. We’ve all built our GS skiing off these older guys, so it’s cool to see yourself turn into that. Maybe get a little extra speed one day and take it,” Roberts said.

Five of Jitloff’s seven national titles are in the giant slalom, including a pair at Sugarloaf, in 2008 and 2015. The fog made visibility during both runs on Tuesday difficult, and at times nearly impossible (there was a brief visibility delay before the five first-run leaders took their second run). Jitloff knew his experience could be a factor in determining if he’d bring home a sixth GS national title.

“It certainly makes a difference. I know enough to know a ski race is two runs, and I’m certainly going to try my best on this next one, use my experience on the next one and try to win it,” Jitloff said after his first run. “You store all that stuff and those experiences in your mind. You know what is important and what isn’t. When you’re trying to perform, you’re focused on the things you know are the right things and you hopefully get it done.”

Tuesday’s victory was Roberts’ first national championship win. Roberts said Jitloff has been an influence on his racing.

“He’s a great guy. He was my first roommate at my first World Cup last year. He works really hard and has his own routine, which is really cool to watch,” Roberts said.

Knowing Jitloff was skiing after him played a factor in how Roberts skied his second run, he said.

“I knew all of us back there were going to be doing the same thing, so I figured by bringing a little bit more than I’m used to, or what I think I’m capable of, I think I can do it because I’ve been training so fast. I know that I can win this,” Roberts said.

Jitloff has a few more goals before he ends his ski racing career. One of them is to represent the United States at the Winter Olympics next year in PyeongChang, South Korea. That would be the third Olympics for Jitloff, who also was on the team in 2010 and 2014.

“I’d like to go through the next two years. That’s the game plan right now, then reasses,” Jitloff said. “It would be silly of me with my experience and everything right now to step aside before an Olympic year.”

• • •

Colby College senior Michael Boardman placed 12th in the men’s giant slalom with a time of 2:21.55. Boardman had the fastest second-run time in the field, 1:08.82, and that helped him move up from 21st place after run one.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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