Steamboat Springs skier Hig Roberts a national champion
Inspired by brother's memory, Roberts wins Tuesday GS race in Maine
Steamboat Springs — Tuesday turned out to be a big day for Steamboat Springs ski racer Hig Roberts as he captured the U.S. National giant slalom title at the Sugarloaf Resort in Maine.
“This is my first national championship,” Roberts said. ”It’s been a great year of skiing, but off the hill, it’s been a very challenging year in a lot of ways. It’s incredible to get this right at the end and grab a win that I’ve been working for, and totally capable of winning, all year. Today, it all came together, which is really rare in ski racing.”
But the victory also inspired memories of his younger brother Murphy — something that Hig will never be able to ski away from.
Hig said this is a moment his late brother would have loved, and one Hig wishes he could have shared with Murphy, who passed away last August after experiencing a seizure related to his Type 1 diabetes and a fall that resulted in a series of complications leading to his death.
Hig was filled with grief at the start of the season but decided that his brother would never have wanted him to give up ski racing — a love the two brothers shared.
Hig said his brother was with him as he stepped into the start house Tuesday for his second run of the giant slalom race. The ski racer was clearly focused on the course in front of him. However, he admits the memories and the words of his brother were there to guide and inspire him.
“This season I have been very inspired by carrying on an attitude that my little brother taught me,” Hig said. “When I was standing in the start, I could feel the heat he brings out in me. It was an incredible moment to take that run and have a day where I really connected with him.”
Roberts was third after the first run but moved to the top of the standings with a combined time of 2 minutes, 19.25 seconds after the second.
National team member Tim Jitloff raced to second and the defending giant slalom champion Kieffer Christianson was third. Steamboat Springs’ Jett Seymour raced to 20th, Riley Kilgore raced to 45th and Cole Puckett and Trey Seymour raced, but like a large part of the field, failed to complete their second runs.
The race was held in extremely foggy and difficult conditions. Roberts said his experience as a collegiate racer at Middlebury College before his graduation in 2014 came in handy in those conditions. He added that his experience with late starting positions this season as he attempted to work his way up in the points standings at World and Europa Cup events also prepared him for the rutted course.
Roberts said he doubts he could have made it through this season, or won the national title, without the support he has gotten from the Steamboat Springs community, and on Tuesday, there were familiar faces in the crowd at the bottom of the course, including Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club coach Ryan Wilson along with the Puckett and Seymour families from Steamboat Springs.
“They were the loudest people in the crowd,” Roberts said. “It was an incredible moment to share with the people from Steamboat who support me. I’m so honored to be part of the Steamboat community, and in many ways, it’s like having a really big family with me, and it makes me really proud to be a part of something like that.”
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