Puckett is King of the Mountain

Aspen Times StaffAspen, CO Colorado

TELLURIDE For Aspen’s Casey Puckett, Friday’s Jeep King of the Mountain championships at Telluride offered the skiercross veteran a chance to earn one of the sport’s most coveted prizes – and establish some records that may never be matched.Puckett, in topping an international field of 16 to win his record third world professional championship, further solidified his legacy as one of the most heralded competitors in skiercross history. A four-time Olympian and five-time U.S. national champion, Puckett earned world professional champion honors in 2004 and 2006. Germany’s Martin Fiala took the overall title in 2005.The Czech Republic’s Tomas Kraus took second, and Lars Lewin of Sweden was third. Steamboat Springs’ Justin Glick and Vail’s Chris Del Bosco finished sixth and seventh, respectively.”I am completely elated right now, mixed in with some relief,” Puckett said in a news release. “I was a bit anxious because when you’re in the finals, all it takes is one mistake and you can lose the whole thing. The competition here was unbelievable, and I think I thrive when the person racing next to me is the best of the best. I think I have a killer instinct that allows me to thrive in skiercross, and right now I’m firing on all cylinders.” Puckett began the day with a difficult first round matchup against Olympian Stanley Hayer. After winning the first race, Puckett lost the rematch but advanced to the semifinals based on the time differential. Next up was Lewen, a U.S. freeskiing champion and two-time Winter X Games gold medalist. Lewen won earlier this year in Taos, N.M., besting Puckett in a race that culminated in a crash near the finish line. Lewen stormed to a win in the first heat, but Puckett regained his form in the second race and advanced to the finals.There he was pitted against Kraus, who has accrued a world championship and two World Cup titles the past two years. Kraus breezed by Cody Smith of Spokane, Wash., in the first round before outlasting open qualifier Eric Andersson of Sweden in the semifinals. Puckett won the first heat by a tight margin, then ousted Kraus via time differential in the second race to clinch the title. Lewen bested Andersson in the consolation heat to earn third place.The season finale from Telluride will air on CBS from 1-2 p.m. on March 24.


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