Puckett recognized as 1 of Colorado’s best | SteamboatToday.com

Puckett recognized as 1 of Colorado’s best

Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club skier Cole Puckett was selected as the Spencer Nelson Colorado All-Star Athlete of the Year by Colorado Ski Country USA.
Joel Reichenberger

— Cole Puckett is well aware there are expectations hanging out there.

How could there not be, considering the ski history present in his family, from his uncle Casey Puckett’s five Olympic appearances to his father, Chris Puckett’s appearance in the 1992 Winter Olympics and long stint on the U.S. Ski Team.

The 15-year old Steamboat Springs skier said those expectations aren’t driving him, however.

“I was born into skiing,” he said, “and it was kind of a given I would want to be a great ski racer, but I don’t feel pressure. I like having my family, my dad and my uncle, too, having their ski careers to guide me, but I am just into it, and I have my own personal goals.”

He’s realizing those goals, and people are taking notice, most recently in the form of the Spencer Nelson All-Star Athlete of the Year award presented to Puckett by Colorado Ski Country USA.

A news release announcing the honor noted not only Puckett’s excellent skiing — he has ranked near the top of his age class for years — but also his off-the-hill accomplishments, including a 4.0 grade-point average and his spot on the high school soccer team.

Puckett’s biggest competitive moments this season came when he earned a trip to compete in Trofeo Topolino, Italy as part of the Rocky Mountain/Central division European Racing Project. There, he came away as the top American finisher in the slalom and second in giant slalom against an international field.

But that was just a part of his skiing accomplishments. He finished the season with top-five rankings in downhill, slalom, giant slalom and super-g for his age division.

“It means so much,” Puckett said. “I was super honored. It felt amazing to be recognized. I put a lot of work into last season, and I had a lot of fun.”

He also had plenty of fun accepting the award earlier this month at a Denver hotel. The keynote speaker for the evening was NFL tight end Owen Daniels, a hero this winter for the Denver Broncos as he caught two touchdown passes in the AFC championship game to help his team defeat the New England Patriots. Daniels also had a catch two weeks later as he helped the team win the Super Bowl.

He was released from the squad in March.

“I tried to get him to come up to Steamboat, but he said he’s actually already been here and that he really liked it,” Puckett said. “It was incredible.”

Just back from a training trip to Mount Hood, in Oregon, Puckett is definitely not taking a break. He was up for a 6:15 a.m. workout Friday and is looking forward to a summer of building ahead of the next winter.

“Long term, I want to go to the Olympics,” Puckett said. “I want to win a gold medal. I want to win a World Cup. I want to meet as many people as I can and have as much fun as I can, and I just want to get as much out of the sport as I can.”

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JReich9

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