Two crowns and a Puckett |

Two crowns and a Puckett

Aspen Times Staff
Aspen local Casey Puckett, right, surges past Tomas Kraus of Austria Sunday in the men's skiing final at the King of the Mountain World Championships in Squaw Valley, Calif. (Courtesy Al Sommers)

Forget Bode Miller.On Sunday in Squaw Valley, Calif., Aspen local Casey Puckett bested a deep field of former – and current – Olympic skiers at the Jeep King of the Mountain World Championships. Puckett, a four-time Olympian, bested longtime rival Tomas Kraus of Austria in the two-skier final to lock up his second title, crowning the best skier in the four-event series, in three years.

For the win, Puckett earned a new Jeep Commander and a considerable piece of the $150,000 prize purse.Earlier in the day, Puckett notched victories over Isidor Gruner of Austria and former U.S. teammate Jake Fiala of Frisco.

Kraus reached the finals by topping American star Daron Rahlves – who was competing in his first event since the Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy – and T.J. Lanning, another current member of the U.S. Ski Team.Rahlves, who plans on retiring from World Cup racing at the end of the season, finished third with a win over Fiala in the consolation final. The most accomplished speed skier in U.S. history with 21 World Cup podiums, Rahlves has expressed interest in returning to the King of the Mountain series next season.

The race from Squaw Valley will air on CBS from 11a.m. to noon (MST) March 25.The men’s snowboarding field was full of Olympians fresh off the plane from Italy, including semifinalists Graham Watanabe of Salt Lake City, Jasey Jay Anderson of Canada, Squaw Valley local Nate Holland and Dieter Krassnig of Austria. Anderson, last season’ overall champion on the World Cup circuit, won the individual event title in Squaw Valley with a victory over Krassnig in the championship heat.But it was Watanabe who captured the world championship after holding off Holland in the consolation final to secure the necessary points.