Puckett goes ‘from the couch to the podium’
Aspen, CO Colorado
ASPEN – As director of the recently formed American Ski Cross Association, Casey Puckett’s days are consumed more by administrative tasks than training.
But that didn’t stop the 38-year-old Aspen-area resident from claiming bronze in Sunday’s skiercross final at the Winter X Games.
Puckett finished behind only gold medalist John Teller and silver winner Chris Del Bosco, whose bid for a skiercross repeat fell a fraction of a second short on Buttermilk’s X course.
“From the couch to the podium” served as Puckett’s catch phrase all weekend – and the former alpine racer delivered.
“I’m very happy with my result,” said a smiling Puckett, who now owns four X Games medals – two golds and two bronzes. “I said I was going from the couch to the podium. I didn’t say I was going to win, but I was fired up to get third place.”
The lack of training didn’t drag down the five-time Olympian, who was making his eighth X Games appearance.
“It’s really from the desk to the podium, because I’ve been doing all the administrative work for … the ASCA,” said Puckett, who plans to compete only in the X Games from here on out. “I’ve just been working in the office, trying to raise money and help these guys do their racing in the World Cup. That doesn’t leave a lot of time for training.”
Puckett’s efforts at the desk were rewarded by Teller, a 27-year-old up-and-comer who hails from Mammoth Lakes, Calif.
“This is a really big day for the American Ski Cross Association,” Puckett said. “The American Ski Cross Association was formed this spring after the U.S. Ski Team dropped ski cross from its budget and we formed a new corporation. It was to help fund guys like Teller and, you know, we’re looking toward 2014 and Sochi and all the World Cups in between and X Games and World Championships.”
Just last week, Teller became the first American to win a World Cup skiercross event at the circuit’s Jan. 7 stop in St. Johann, Austria.
Add X Games gold to the budding star’s list of feats.
Teller won the medal by the slimmest of margins, going back and forth with Del Bosco until the finish of Sunday’s final.
Del Bosco took the early lead before Teller surged ahead right around the butter box portion of the course.
“I just got in the slipstream from Chris and was able to make a pass,” Teller said. “I wasn’t sure if I really made it stick because it took a long time for me to get in front of him and I got in front and was just hoping to stay up there.”
It was neck and neck from there, with Del Bosco nearly overtaking Teller going into the X course’s massive final jump.
Beating Del Bosco across the finish line by about half a ski length, Teller held on for victory – barely.
Teller clocked in at 1:21.167. Del Bosco’s time: 1:21.197.
“He carried a little more speed into the finish jump,” Del Bosco said. “I tried to stay as tight as I could with him heading into that, and I just kind of skipped off the top a little bit but gained a little bit. … There’s just no room after the finish jump. Once you hit the jump, you basically land and cross the finish line.”
And so the 28-year-old Del Bosco, who uses his dual citizenship to ski for Canada, settled for silver and missed out on back-to-back golds. No racer has ever pulled off a repeat in the history of men’s skiercross at Winter X.
“I mean, the podium at X Games is huge, but I like to win,” Del Bosco said. “It’s a little frustrating. I was skiing really well, but sometimes that’s how it goes.”
A crash landing – one that left her with a busted lip and bumps and bruises elsewhere – equaled victory for Canadian Kelsey Serwa in Sunday’s women’s skiercross final.
In taking X Games gold, Serwa quashed Frenchwoman Ophelie David’s bid for a five-peat.
As Serwa vaulted off the final jump, she appeared to lose her balance in mid-air, her back crashing against the snow upon landing.
Bloodied and bruised, the 21-year-old Serwa eventually rose to her feet and celebrated her triumph by waving a Canadian flag.
Switzerland’s Fanny Smith took the bronze.
Check out videos, photos and more stories from Winter X Games 15 at http://www.aspentimes.com/xgames15
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