Aspen transplant Puckett wins combined at U.S. championships |

Aspen transplant Puckett wins combined at U.S. championships

Tim Mutrie

U.S. Ski Team racer Casey Puckett started calling Aspen home about a year and a half ago, when he became engaged (and later married) to Aspen native Katie McBride Puckett. The couple live in Old Snowmass.

Now Aspen can call Puckett a hometown national champion.

The 28-year-old Crested Butte native claimed the combined title at the U.S. Alpine Championships at Big Mountain, Mont., on Wednesday. Puckett, who won four straight Nor Am slaloms earlier this month, posted second-place finishes in the slalom and downhill to win the combined title over Marco Sullivan of Tahoe City, Calif.

Jake Zamansky, a 19-year-old up-and-comer from Carbondale competing against the best skiers in the nation, posted a 12th in the slalom and a 15th in downhill to finish just out of the medals in the combined, in fourth behind Josh Transue of Hunter, N.Y.

Puckett, a four-event skier, also claimed a share of the national super giant slalom championship, as he tied longtime friend and teammate Erik Schlopy of Park City, Utah, who was skiing on a borrowed pair of Puckett’s skis. The pair bested defending national super-G champ Daron Rahlves by .01 seconds.

Puckett took 12th in Aspen’s World Cup super-G in 1998 and claimed fourth in a World Cup combined this season at Kitzbuhl, the home of the notorious Hannenkam downhill. He remains the nation’s favored skier in the combined heading into the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics.

Puckett will race in the final Nor Am slalom races of the season this weekend in Deer Valley before sailing off with his wife, a repeat 24 Hours of Aspen champion, for a delayed honeymoon.

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