He’s simply amarvelous
Aspen Times Staff Writer
Aspen’s Toby Lamar completed his tour de force of Aspen Mountain’s America’s Downhill course by winning the super G Tuesday, his third victory and fourth podium of the four-day Dan Bean Memorial Trophy Series speed event.
On the same sickeningly steep World Cup course, Lamar opened with back-to-back wins in downhill on Saturday and Sunday. He stumbled, if only slightly, in the first super G on Monday. The 17-year-old Aspen native, who prior to this week had never won an FIS-level race, was third.
“He sorta had a breakthrough here, and it’s just kept going,” said Casey Puckett, Lamar’s coach at the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club and a former U.S. Ski Team racer.
“There’s a lot of potential in this skinny kid.”
Tuesday’s tightly set course claimed more victims than the previous three races: 29 of the 67 women (racing in the Chevy Truck Super Series NorAm, staged cooperatively with the Dan Bean event), and 29 of 63 men, didn’t finish.
However, after seven straight days of training and racing on the course, only two injuries were reported: a concussion and a twisted knee, said Dave Hjerleid, AVSC alpine director and the chief of race.
Lamar’s winning run featured minor bobbles followed by impressive comebacks, both on Aztec at the top and Strawpile at the bottom.
It was a performance that had Puckett, who retired from a 13-year national team career last spring after appearing in his fourth Winter Olympics, comparing Lamar to his former U.S. teammate, Bode Miller, a contender for the overall World Cup title this year.
“One thing Toby’s got going for him is that he goes for it every time. He does get wild sometimes, and that’s something we’ve been working on – getting his pressure in the right place through the turns so he doesn’t get thrown out of a turn and get really wild,” Puckett said.
“But he still has a wild side to his technique. Sometimes, once and awhile, he looks like Bode. They’ve got the same sorta structure: tall and kinda gangly. And Toby, just like Bode, has a pretty good idea of how to find the fall line and be fast.
“It’s just a matter of development and he’ll be on his way.”
Lamar was clocked in 1 minute, 22.76 seconds, followed by David Chodounsky of Crested Butte Academy in second (1:23.48) and Puckett, who races to help reduce the handicap for youngsters, in third (1:23.88).
For the women, Canada’s Brigitte Acton won in 1:24.66, followed by Americans Bryna McCarty (1:25.45) and Keely Kelleher (1:25.88). The women’s races served as the final speed event of the NorAm tour, meaning McCarty, the overall downhill winner, and Acton, the overall super G winner, are guaranteed starts at the World Cup level next year.
After barreling into the top of Aztec, and then getting twisted awkwardly into the back seat, Lamar admitted: “I thought I was going down.
“But then I got my feet back under me and got back into it. After [Monday], when I got third, I knew I had to step it up a notch to get another win,” he said. “So that was the plan.”
After the back-to-back downhill wins, Lamar earned himself his first invitation to the U.S. National Championships, slated for mid-March in Alyeska, Alaska. Now, it seems, after the third in Monday’s super G and Tuesday’s win, Lamar is destined for even greater things.
Besides, Lamar and Puckett both agree that slalom, not downhill and super G, is Lamar’s forte.
“That’s why I’m real excited about this next race,” Lamar said.
That next race starts Friday: two slaloms and two giant slaloms at Beaver Creek and Vail. It’s another Trophy Series event, like the Dan Bean, meaning one step below NorAm, two rungs below the World Cup level, and he’s likely to see many of the same faces, as well as a few top contenders that were absent in Aspen this week.
“I’m psyched to see how he does,” said Puckett. “Probably higher-level athletes will be there because some of the kids who would be here are in Quebec right now at the men’s NorAm, so it’ll be a good challenge for him.”
[Tim Mutrie’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org]
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