COPPER MOUNTAIN, Colo. — Tiger Shaw, reclaiming a title he won three times previously, built a full-second cushion on the field after a blistering first run and cruised to victory Sunday in the men's giant slalom at the U.S. Alpine Ski Championships.
Shaw, 26, of Stowe, Vt., won by nearly a half-second over Troy Watts of Breckenridge, Colo., who was runner-up for the second straight year. Defending champion Felix McGrath of Norwich, Vt., finished third.
"This has sort of been my race over the years," said Shaw, the national giant slalom champion in 1983, 1985 and 1986. "I finished third last year, so I was out for revenge. I'm happy to be back on top."
Shaw was clocked in 1 minute 11.41 seconds on the first run, which gave him a comfortable margin over McGrath, at 1:12.40, and Watts, at 1:12.85.
Shaw's second-run time--1:03.99--was only the third-fastest, but it was enough.
He finished with a combined time of 2:15.40. The 22-year-old Watts, who had the quickest second run of 1:03.43, moved past McGrath with a total time of 2:16.28. McGrath, 24, had a time of 2:16.58.
Bob Ormsby of Tahoe City, Calif., was fourth in 2:17.43, followed by Jack Miller of Steamboat Springs, Colo., in 2:17.78.
"My first run came together pretty well," Shaw said. "I didn't really have any mistakes, and that's what I've been aiming for. I've skied certain sections of a run well, but not the whole run.
"I made a mistake or two on the second run, but I knew I could afford to. I had a cushion to play with. I was taking a rounder line on top than I needed to, and I straightened it out on the bottom."
Slowed by a knee injury this season, Shaw feels he is nearing his top form as the Olympics approach.
"Winning this race meant a lot," he said. "It's a confidence-booster heading into Calgary. Now I'll have a chance to train GS the next 10 days before the Olympic races."
Watts, a member of the U.S. "C" Team, said he "risked a little more on the second run. I had my fingers crossed that it might hold up. I thought I might catch Felix, but I didn't really think I could overtake Tiger."
McGrath, who has had the best results of any U.S. male skier on the World Cup circuit, said he "wasn't quite on today. Both runs were fairly solid but nothing spectacular."
McGrath said he welcomed the competition. "Most of the year I've been up there by myself," he said, "We need to push each other on this team."