COPPER MOUNTAIN, COLO., FEB. 8 -- Tamara McKinney and Felix McGrath, the United States' top technical specialists, captured the women's and men's slaloms today with come-from-behind and front-running performances, respectively, in the concluding events of the U.S. Alpine Ski Championships.
McKinney, whose season has been on hold because of a broken leg, overtook five skiers on the second run to win the women's race. McGrath built nearly a full second lead on the first run despite breaking a ski pole and cruised to a convincing triumph. Both races were run under a light snowfall.
McKinney, who placed third in Saturday's giant slalom in her first competition of the season, said her victory would give her a boost of confidence for the Olympics.
"I needed that, I really did," she said after first-run leader Heidi Voelker was unable to hold onto first place.
McKinney, 25, of Olympic Valley, Calif., stood sixth after the first run during which she lost her goggles after hitting the second gate.
Voelker, 18, of Pittsfield, Mass., had a first-run clocking of 52.58 seconds, but six other skiers were within a half second of her time. McKinney was at 53.04.
McKinney put together the fastest second run of 50.33 seconds, then waited as five subsequent skiers, including Voelker, were unable to better her mark.
McKinney, America's best hope for an Alpine medal at the Olympics until her injury, had a combined time for two runs of 1 minute 43.37 seconds.
Beth Madsen of Aspen, Colo., was second in 1:43.43, followed by Heidi Bowes of Steamboat Springs, Colo., in 1:43.50 and Voelker in 1:43.51.
McGrath, who has more points on the World Cup circuit this season than any other U.S. skier, had a remarkable first run considering his equipment problem. He hit a gate and snapped his right pole just below the grip about one-third of the way down the course.
Still, he had a time of 52.29 seconds, giving him a commanding .94-hundredths of a second lead over Tiger Shaw.
McGrath, 24, of Norwich, Vt., said it was his "best run with one pole ever -- and my only run."
McGrath's total time was 1:45.18. Troy Watts of Breckenridge, Colo., was second in 1:46.70, followed by Shaw, of Stowe, Vt., in 1:46.86.
The combined titles went to Shaw and Monique Pelletier of Aspen, Colo. Shaw finished 20th in the downhill, sixth in the super-giant slalom, first in the giant slalom and third in the slalom. Pelletier was 10th in the downhill, fifth in the super-G, first in the giant slalom and tied for fifth in the slalom.