Puckett fifth at World Championships | AspenTimes.com

Puckett fifth at World Championships

Aspen Times Staff Report
Aspen, CO Colorado

INAWASHIRO, Japan ” Casey Puckett of Old Snowmass turned in the best result among the U.S. men in Monday’s skiercross at this year’s Freestyle Ski World Championships in Inawashiro, Japan, taking fifth on the opening day of competition.

Andreas Matt of Austria won the gold, followed by fellow countryman Thomas Zangeri and Davey Barr of Canada in third.

It was a disappointing day for the U.S., which qualified three racers for head-to-head racing but saw none land on the podium.

Former World Cup speed specialist Daron Rahlves of Sugar Bowl, Calif., was the top U.S. qualifier, earning the fourth seed. Jake Fiala of Frisco was seeded 15th, followed by Puckett in 16th.

“Obviously we are disappointed that we didn’t land someone on the podium, especially after the start we had today,” said Tyler Shepherd, the U.S. team’s head skiercross coach, in a news release. “Getting all three guys in is half the battle these days with how deep the fields have become. We can’t take anything for granted.”

In heats with four skiers on course, Puckett won his first runs of the day before coming in fourth in the semifinal and being relegated to the consolation final of the event, which he won.

“Casey was right back on top for the small final and skied like he did in earlier rounds, winning out of the start and never looking back,” Shepherd said. “Had Casey reached the final today, I think he would have been pretty hard to beat.”

Rahlves wound up ninth, while Fiala finished a distant 21st.

In the women’s skiercross, Ashleigh McIvor of Canada took the gold followed by Karin Huttary of Austria and Meryl Boulangeat of France. No U.S. women competed at the World Championships in Japan.

“We will now travel home for a few days of rest before heading over to Europe to finish out the year and hopefully get a win before the season’s end,” Shepherd said.

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