Canadian Phil Brown seized top honors as the World Pro Ski Tour barnstormed through New Hampshire’s Waterville Valley Resort for the season’s second stop.
Held Feb. 9-10, the Waterville leg of the World Pro Ski Tour was contested on the World Cup trail. On Saturday, Mother Nature brought in severe weather with 65-mph winds bringing the temperatures well below zero. A decision was made to move the qualifier to Sunday prior to the super slalom event.
Sunday, under clear, warmer skies, 30 racers competed for prize money and points toward the yearend overall title. Brown, a 27-yearold from Toronto, took first-place honors, claiming the $8,500 winner’s check. Michael Ankeny of Minnetonka, Minn., took second. Robert Cone from Killington, Vt., finished third and Kei Kullberg from Cornwall, N.Y., took fourth.
Brown, a silver medalist at the 2015 World Championships in the team event at Vail, Colo., and a Canadian ski team member, was challenged a few times by his competitors but his consistency set a fast pace as he raced to victory.
“I am super stoked to leave Waterville Valley with my first Pro Tour victory,” Brown said. “The race yesterday was wild with three big jumps, icy conditions and a challenging set. There was a lot of action especially in the early rounds. Anything could happen and you needed to stay focused right to the finish.
“Unfortunately I wasn’t selected by the Canadian team to compete at the FIS World Championships in Sweden, so being able to come back to North America and compete in the WPST has been an amazing opportunity. I am having so much fun skiing this format and competing against these athletes. WPST definitely does a great job making ski racing fun, which is most important.”
WPST serves up a dual format of racing, head to head, not against the clock, with horse-style start gates, identical race courses, and, at Waterville, three pro jumps made racing even more exciting.
A large spectator crowd gathered to watch a field of Olympians, national champions and NCAA champions face off on the dual-slalom course. Olympian and overall 2018 World Pro Ski Tour champion Nolan Kasper, of Warren, Vt., finished in the round of eight. Gabriel Coulet from Chamonix, France; Jack Schibli of Charlotte, Vt.; and Alex Tarberry from North Conway, N.H., rounded out the field. Burke Mountain Academy and Dartmouth Ski Team had a strong showing with a number of their ski team members entering the event. Countries represented stretched from the USA, France, Canada, Russia and Sweden.
The WPST is currently a men’s professional ski racing tour, yet it is open for all racers. This event highlighted three women who came to test their skills — Mardy Haskell from East Burke, Vt., Laura Halupowski of North Conway, N.H., and Lisa Wedsjo from Sweden.