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Vonn Wins U.S. Giant Slalom Title

March 20, 2002

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OLYMPIC VALLEY, Calif. (AP) _ Thomas Vonn won the men’s giant slalom for his first national title Tuesday, while Casey Puckett closed his skiing career with a rather unusual run.

Vonn, from Newburgh, N.Y., finished the two runs in 1 minute, 47.41 seconds in the final event of the U.S. Alpine Championships that began Friday.

Vonn took the lead after the first run and held on to edge Tom Rothrock by 0.24 seconds. Erik Schlopy was third and Bode Miller, who won a silver medal in the giant slalom in the Salt Lake City Olympics, was fourth.

The race was the final one in a 13-year U.S. team career for Puckett, who at the Salt Lake City Games became just the second U.S. male Alpine skier to compete in four Olympics. Puckett made his final run in a bear costume.

``I actually wanted to wear a gorilla suit. But I wasn’t able to make it to Reno to find a gorilla suit,″ said Puckett, who wore the Squaw Valley Children’s Ski School bear mascot costume instead.

Puckett entered the race as defending champion, based on the giant slalom title he won two years ago. The event was canceled last year. Puckett retires as a five-time U.S. champion.

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