Crist brothers place stranglehold on skiercross finals
Dominating a field that included four former champions, the brothers Crist – Reggie and Zach of Sun Valley – finished one-two in the men’s skiercross final Saturday at the Winter X Games at Buttermilk.Hometown favorite Casey Puckett of Old Snowmass, the defending champion, was slow out of the start in the semis and six-man final. And while he’d come from behind to advance in the quarterfinals Friday and the semis yesterday, in the final he couldn’t reel in Reggie, who led from wire to wire.Zach slipped by Puckett for third when Puckett launched into a minor orbit – catching way, way more air than he would’ve liked off a jump. When he finally landed – as Zach was sneaking past underneath – his speed was sapped.
Zach then caught Frenchman Enak Gavaggio at the line; a photo finish revealed Zach a nose ahead.”I knew that was my chance,” Zach said of Puckett’s human cannonball impression. “He got squashed off the exit jump and then just launched the hip. I snuck right underneath him. I was like, ‘Thank you very much.'”Puckett finished fourth, Vail’s Eric Archer was fifth and Jesper Brugge of Sweden came in sixth.Said Reggie: “Zach and I have been working together and we had some little trade secrets that paid off, obviously, one-two. And now that the race is over, I’ll let you know: The goal was to get back on the snow as soon as possible, and we had a special technique to minimize our flight.”
The four former champions in the final – Puckett (2004), Reggie (2002), Zach (2001) and Gavaggio (1999) – share a long history together, as the Crists and Puckett (and Puckett’s older brother Chris) were teamates on the U.S. Ski Team for many years. “I’m happy for them,” Puckett said. “They’re great skiers and I can’t be too upset.””I think I would’ve been able to pull out in front again – I could’ve – but I screwed up the timing of the jump and that was it. I was lucky not to do worse because my ass was on my skis from the jump before. I was just trying to get back up onto my feet when I hit the big one, and just launched. It hurts when you land.”
The Crists celebrated wildly in the finish corral, with Zach tackling Reggie into a foam pad.Reggie called the victory “the highlight of my skiing career.””Anytime you can beat Casey and Enak, that’s a good day,” he said. “But we could not have asked for a better finish today.”Tim Mutrie’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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