Kraus rolls to skicross win at 48 Straight/Jeep KOM


Casey Puckett overcame a tender shoulder he dislocated two weeks earlier to finish second at the second stop of the 48 Straight/Jeep King of the Mountain skicross won by No. 1-ranked Tomaz Kraus of the Czech Republic on Saturday at Squaw Valley, Calif.
   Puckett, a four-time Olympic alpine skier was followed by Switzerland's Michael Schmid in third and Switzerland's Andreas Steffen in fourth. Twenty-one year old Errol Kerr of the Squaw Valley Ski Team won the consolation bracket and placed fifth.
    “I was still able to make good starts,” said Puckett, a residenrt Snowmass, Colorado. “Every time I finished a heat it bothered me with some good pain, but once on course adrenaline took over and it didn’t affect me."
   
SQUAW VALLEY, Calif. —  Casey Puckett overcame a tender shoulder he dislocated two weeks earlier to finish second at the second stop of the 48 Straight/Jeep King of the Mountain ski cross won by Czechoslovakia’s Tomaz Kraus.
    Puckett, a four-time Olympic alpine skier was followed by Switzerland's Michael Schmid in third and Switzerland's Andreas Steffen in fourth. Twenty-one year old Errol Kerr of the Squaw Valley Ski Team won the consolation bracket and placed fifth.
    “I was still able to make good starts,” said Puckett, a residenrt Snowmass, Colorado. “Every time I finished a heat it bothered me with some good pain, but once on course adrenaline took over and it didn’t affect me."
    Kraus, ranked No. 1 in the world in skicross, collected his third win of the season. In posting the fastest time in Friday’s qualification, Kraus confirmed in his mind what was necessary to win.
    “It was such a short course I knew I had to be perfect out of the start, ski perfect in the mid-section and make no mistakes,” said Kraus who pocketed $12,500 in first place earnings.
    The year before at Squaw Valley, the skicross course had started atop Squaw Valley’s Siberia ridgeline, site of the start of the 1960 men’s Olympic downhill. However, a week-long late January Pacific Coastal front had deposited 8 feet of snow in the Sierra Nevada. With winds clocked at more than 100 miles per hour, course workers had been able to start fashioning the course only four days before the event. As a result, course designer Corley Howard had been forced to tweak his original design into a shortened version with neither steep sections, a gap jump or critical turns. The resulting flat and easy course had some racers fuming.
    “It was really short. In Aspen the course ran a minute and thirty seconds. This was only 39 seconds. There were no passing areas. The fast start gave whoever got out there a huge advantage,” explained a frustrated Daron Rahlves. The X-Games skicross champion didn’t make it past the quarterfinals. “I think it sucks when the start means so much. The race was quick in the middle. There were no sketchy parts to it, no steeps or big airs. I’m really disappointed.”
    Ophelie David of France continued her dominance. She won the women’s skicross over fellow teammate Sasa Faric.
    The final competition of the 48 Straight/Jeep King of The Mountain tour moves to Sun Valley, Idaho, March 14-16.

MEN’S SKICROSS RESULTS
1. Tomas Kraus CZE
2. Casey Puckett, Aspen, Colo.
3. Michael Schmid SUI
4. Andreas Steffen SUI
5. Errol Kerr, Truckee, Calif.
6. Stanley Hayer CAN
7. Ted Piccard FRA
8. Chris Del Bosco CAN

WOMEN’S SKICROSS RESULTS
1. Ophelie David FRA
2. Sasa Faric SLO
3. Magdalena Jonsson SWE
4. Meryll Boulangeat FRA
5. Hedda Berntsen NOR
6. Jenny Owens AUS
7. Julia Murrray CAN
8. Noriko Fushima JPN

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