Steamboat’s Puckett builds on his best year ever with GS top-10 finish
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — They say that March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.
For Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club skier Cooper Puckett, March started in a competitive fashion. He traveled to the Alpine Junior World Championships in Bansko, Bulgaria, a country with lions in its coat of arms, and got a taste for tough European competition. Now, to end the month, he’s racing at Steamboat Resort, and he’d rather go out with a roar.
Tuesday’s giant slalom race was an excellent start to the week for the young racer who took eighth. In the afternoon race, a big mistake cost him time on his first run, so he took 26th.
“I pinched off a gate, and my inside foot hit my outside foot,” he said. “I kind of slipped for a second. Then I was really behind the course and lost some big speed.”
Thursday will give Puckett one last chance to pick up yet another podium this year. Last weekend, Puckett podiumed in three of his four races at Winter Park, winning GS and taking third in both slalom races.
“This season, my slalom’s been a lot faster overall,” Puckett said. “I’m going to take my best skiing into Thursday. That’s all I can hope for.”
His slalom skiing is what earned him a spot at World Juniors, where he finished 24th in super-G, but had unfortunate mishaps in both GS and slalom.
“It’s new to ski on European ice like that,” he said. “I learned a lot about skiing and little equipment things that you can dial in to be faster on those surfaces. I learned a lot just being around such fast skiers, and the older guys on the team were really nice.”
Puckett was the top finisher among Steamboat athletes in the morning, with Noah Riemenschneider in 15th and Jordan Simon in 16th. Later in the day, Jay Poulter was the top local finisher in 16th.
On Monday, the ladies were led by Tatum Grosdidier, one of the youngest athletes in the field. She was one of 20 women born in 2004 competing in Monday’s giant slalom races but the fastest of all of them. Going up against some of the best college and club skiers, the Steamboat speedster earned ninth in race one and sixth in race two.
She’s coming off a first-place overall title at the Rocky/Central U16 Championships a few weeks ago and four podium finishes last week in Winter Park, including a trio of golds. She will travel to U16 nationals in Sugarloaf, Maine, this weekend.
The races have the largest field locally permitted all season with 100 skiers in each competition, including NCAA champions and U.S. Development Team members. So, placing above your bib number or ranking is impressive, let alone top-10 finishes.
It’s also the largest international field in some time, bringing in competitors from 16 countries in the men’s race and skiers from 11 countries in the women’s races.
“The depth at this race is unlike anything any of our athletes have competed in all year,” said SSWSC Associate Executive Director Jon Nolting. “So, the race had a very different feel than the other races.”
The next-best female finisher was Jaelie Hovey in 36th, followed by Marissa Drobek in 40th. In the afternoon race, Drobek earned 37th, and Madison McLaren took 39th.
Hovey’s ranking and bib number was 60th, Drobek was 77th, and McLaren was 82nd.
“Those are hidden back in the results, but those girls stood out as well,” Nolting said. “They kind of get lost in the sea of how deep and truly talented this field is.”
The women’s slalom races will take place Wednesday beginning at 8:30 a.m.
Men’s giant slalom
Race 1 top 3: 1. Tobias Kogler, DU, 1:47.59. 2. Riley Seger, CAN, 1:47.7. 3. Liam Wallace, CAN, 1:48.23.
Area finishers: 8. Cooper Puckett, SSWSC, 1:49.11. 15. Noah Riemenschneider 1:50.28. 16. Jordan Simon 1:50.31. 24. Jay Poulter 1:50.84. 34. Cole Puckett, DU, 1:52.02. 36. Dominic Rainville 1:52.2. 42. Bode Flanigan 1:52.85. 46. Kyle Kagan 1:53.73. 49. Owen Croce 1:54.14. 50. Chase Seymour, CU, 1:54.29. 57. Alec Nolan 1:54.77. 59. Charles Welch 1:55.65. 62. Colin Kagan 1:56.1. 66. Laiken Roth 1:57.48. 67. Peter Dohr 1:57.53. 73. Connor Crossen 2:02.53. 74. Emil Plank 2:03.0.4
Race 2 top 3: 1. Louis Muhlen-Schulte, AUS, 1:52.55. 2. Isaiah Nelson, USA, 1:52.69. 3. Justin Alkier, CAN, 1:53.08.
Area finishers: 16. Poulter 1:55.18. 26. Cooper Puckett 1:56.66. 28. T. Seymour, DU, 1:56.86. 30. Simon 1:57.6. 34. K. Kagan 1:58.84. 35. Rainville 1:59.15. 36. Smith 1:59.26. 37. Cole Puckett, DU, 1:59.37. 40. Welch 1:59.79. 42. Flanigan 2:00.12. 44. Nolan 2:00.48. 45. Louis Nguyen, CMC, 2:00.79. 49. C. Kagan 2:01.55. 52. Maxx Parys 2:02.84. 54. Roth 2:03.3. 55. Peter Dohr 2:04.37. 56. Brooks Overstake 2:04.76. 61. Crossen 2:06.39.
Women’s giant slalom
Race 1 top 3: 1. Storm Klomhaus, USA, 1:49.95. 2. Cassidy Gray, CAN, 1:50.42. 3. Madison Hoffman, 1:50.76.
Area finishers: 9. Tatum Grosdidier 1:52.36. 36. Jaelie Hovey 1:57.56. 40. Marissa Drobek 1:58.35. 51. Isabelle Washburn 2:00.55. 54. Madison McLaren 2:01.66. 60. Ryli Adrian 2:03. 63. Katya Thurston 2:06.14. 65. Nicole Nolting 2:06.4. 67. Maren Elvidge 2:07.01.
Race 2 top 3: 1. Madison Hoffman, AUS, 1:59.06. 2. Tricia Mangan, USA, 2:00.18. 3. Cassidy Gray, CAN, 2:00.83.
Area finishers: 6. Grosdider 2:02.08. 37. Drobek 2:08.85. 39. McLaren 2:09.23. 43. Ryli Adrian 2:10.54. 49. Nolting 2:13.37. 54. Thurston 2:16.45. 56. Elvidge 2:18.51.
To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
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