Image Credit: World Pro Ski Tour

Night skiing, what about night ski racing! Under the induction lights on a run called “See Me” the head-to-head pro competition was thrilling. The World Pro Ski Tour (WPST) hosted the “Colorado Pro Cup” presented by Alpine Bank at Steamboat Springs, Colorado, March 2, 2019, for the first pro night ski event since the 1990’s.

Mother nature made it challenging, snowing for three days straight, including race day. Qualifying in the morning, the round of 32 pros were faced with foot deep ruts and poor visibility. The Tito’s Speed-Run winner, with the fastest qualifying combined time of 41.46, was set by the Unitd States’ Garret Driller.

Between the pro round of 32 and 16 a historical match up teamed together to award college scholarships to the winners and top finishers. Alpine Bank and the WPST hosted “The Alpine Bank Jr. World Pro Challenge”. Utilizing the WPST pros as mentors, 16 U14 racers experienced the dual format, saloon style start gates and pro jumps. These young racers from the Vail and Steamboat ski clubs ran the same course as the pros. Winning the college scholarships were Alex Krupka in first place for $1,000, in second place was Speedy Richeda winning $500, third was Jonah Fleischer for $300, and in fourth was Hunter Salani who won $200. The Overall Team title and trophy was awarded to Steamboat’s Ski Club.

To add to a special element to the awards and festivities, Steamboat icon, Olympic Silver medalist, and World Champion, Billy Kidd, donated a legacy trophy he had won in 1958 to the individual event winner. Not to be outdone, former Professional Ski Champion and local Olympian, Moose Barrows, did the same for the team trophy, donating a trophy from a race in 1970. These legacy events will now be titled the Billy Kidd and Moose Barrows trophies. Like the Stanley Cup they will sit in the cases of the athlete and club that take the victory each year. On hand to give out these awards were Betsy Wood from Alpine Bank and Billy Kidd.

Olympian and Former World Cup Racer, Chad Fleischer, was an instrumental part of the making this event happen. At the awards ceremony he stated, “Today was the first time SSCV and SSWSC had the opportunity to compete against one another in an environment that was conducive to relationship building for the rest of their lives. The significance of Moose’s and Billy’s trophies cannot be put into words nor can my thoughts on the overall experience I had and witnessed today.”

“What you did and pulled off is truly exceptional and I cannot say thank you enough,” he continued. “Your enthusiasm for the sport, for the athletes and its impact on their lives will forever be remembered and for this I cannot give enough thanks and praise. A very heartfelt thank you for such a great day! Thanks again for all your help”.

As evening progressed the lights came on for the Pro Tour finals. The snow continued to fall as these pros battled it out in some of the toughest conditions of the season. Watching the racers bound in and out of the huge ruts made it even more exciting. The top four finishers for the Colorado Pro Cup Super-Slalom were Canada’s Phil Brown, who edged out Alex Leever of the United States with a time differential of 0.449 seconds in the first run. Leever had the advantage the second run with 0.199 seconds, it was not enough and Brown took the win. Another American, Garret Driller, followed in third and in fourth place was Florian Szwebel, also of the United States. Brown took home $8,500 for the win.

Leading the overall standings for the Overall Tour Championship going into the final event of the season is Brown. Driller sits in second, and in third Michael Ankeny. They are not only fighting for the overall title but the “Tito’s Rooke of the Year” title as well. The final will be held March 28-30, at Sunday River, Maine.

CBS Sports Network is the television partner for the World Pro Ski Tour. This event will be televised in March, check your local listings and times.

To see the complete race bracket, please click here.

Release courtesy of the World Pro Ski Tour.

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