Rahlves is top skiercross qualifier
BRECKENRIDGE – Mother Nature is really starting to put a damper on the second stop of the Honda Ski Tour.Two weeks after the US. Freeskiing Open featured five days of almost entirely beautiful weather at Copper Mountain, the tour struggled to get off the ground at Breckenridge.Despite winds clocked at more than 90 miles per hour, the tour’s skiercross competition kicked off Saturday on Peak 9. Event finals were originally scheduled for Saturday afternoon, but inclement weather postponed them until today.Due to a pair of dark horse heats scheduled for this morning, all but one of the first day’s starters will return for the next round of competition.Former U.S. Ski Team member Daron Rahlves qualified first out of 23 racers with a time of 49.36 seconds.
“It’s just one of those days,” Rahlves said of the gusty winds. “It’s up and down – you don’t know if it’s going to go off or not. Some guys had some unfair winds that slowed them down, but it’s an outdoor sport and you kind of have to deal with the elements.”Windy weather curtailed course practice time, especially for Rahlves, who got a late start on Saturday. “I was kind of already counting out today, so I got up here late,” he said. “But, it’s good to just get something going.”Like Rahlves, Steamboat native David Lamb, who qualified third with a time of 49.67, didn’t seem too affected by the weather.”I’ve spent plenty of childhood races at this place freezing my (butt) off,” said Lamb, who lived in Silverthorne last year. “Breckenfridge is living up to its reputation. That exposed lift over on Peak 10 is brutalizing – it’s nothing new, it’s all good.”
Casey Puckett, an Aspen skier who took the gold medal at last weekend’s X Games, filled the fifth qualifying spot with a time of 49.95. He seemed to find the frigid conditions relatively agreeable.”It’s sort of nice racing in cold weather,” Puckett said. “It gets you fired up – when you’re actually racing. When you’re going up the lift it’s not much fun, when you’re hanging out at the start, it’s not much fun, but you have to have really high energy to stay warm, so you get kind of geared up.”Puckett punctuated his top-five finish with a single ejection at the finish line.”The last jump was a triple,” he said. “I hadn’t tripled it yet, but I felt like I had enough speed to do it. It sort of launched me too high and I landed with some pretty good force on that ski and my boot just came right out of my binding.”Because of the weekend’s inclement weather, Puckett said he only got to take one or two high-speed runs prior to his time trial at Breck as compared to the 10 or 11 he took prior to his X Games qualifying run.
Frisco’s Jake Fiala qualified in the 12th position, less than a week after winning the silver medal at the X Games.”It was just hard to get fired up,” said a seemingly disappointed Fiala. “There was a lot of waiting around and with it being that windy, it was just kind of lame. It’s hard to do, but (event organizers) are trying to get something off.”The skiercross competition will continue today, beginning with the dark horse and first-round heats, which are set for 10:30 and 11 a.m., respectively. Event finals are scheduled for noon.Adam Boffey can be contacted at (970) 668-4634, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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