Michael Ankeny, right, and AJ Ginnis race on the World Pro Ski Tour. Lisa Mutz-Nelson photo

The World Pro Ski Tour makes its fourth and final stop of the season this weekend when Sunday River hosts junior and professional races.

Friday, the professional skiers battle for a spot on the 32-man roster that on Saturday will compete against each other in a head-to-head tournament in dual slalom races to determine a winner.

For skiers like Craig Marshall, head coach of the Boston College Alpine team, the World Pro Ski Tour gives skiers a chance for real competition without the financial strain on them.

“It’s really difficult to find opportunities to race after you leave the college circuit or give up on U.S.S.A. racing, so this is a great opportunity because those arenas you have to have a license and there’s not really a lot of benefits to racing once or twice,” Marshall said. “With this you register online, race a couple days and make some money. It’s a great race for me because I’m great friends with guys that are competing from my tour and racing career. It’s nice to have the competitive experience and less commitment, and then make some money, hopefully.”

Marshall, a former Colby College skier and NCAA qualifier, is not the only competitor at this weekend’s races with Maine ties. Turner native Sam Ricker will be in contention, as will Carrabassett Valley Academy alum Sam Morse, who has spent this winter in Europe racing on the World Cup circuit as well as the European Cup.

Also, Saturday morning will feature a junior competition in which teams of eight from Carrabassett Valley Academy and Gould Academy will race against each other on the same dual slalom course the pros will race on later in the day.

In the pro race, Phillip Brown, one of Canada’s top skiers over the last decade, leads the World Pro Ski Tour in points.

“He’s a really good example of a guy who benefits a ton from the pro tour,” Marshall said. “He’s had good World Cup success but he didn’t have a great season and the Canadian team didn’t pick him for the WC team, even though he medaled four years ago. He’s in a weird middle ground at the moment.”

Garrett Driller, a 22-year-old skier who has finished in the top-30 in World Cup events four times already, is another one who will have something to prove Saturday.

“He’s another guy that graduated college, 22 years old, didn’t make the U.S. ski team,” Marshall said. “The Pro Tour is an amazing venue because he can win some money and win some races, and he doesn’t have the opportunity to race in World Cups so it’s a perfect place for him to thrive.”

The World Pro Ski Tour is in its third year since making a comeback in 2017, and Marshall believes it will continue to grow.

“The appeal of this format is the television and the benefits of being a small arena,” Marshall said. “The biggest inspiration to start the thing is providing the people with more of the events that they like so much.”

The Sunday River races will be televised on CBS Sports Network on Monday, May 6 at 11 p.m. The other three races will air the previous three Mondays at the same time and on the same channel, starting on April 15.

Michael Ankeny, a recently retired World Cup skier who will be racing this weekend, loves the venue at Sunday River.

“I love the hill. It’s perfect for the dual races, it’s level and pretty moderate,” Ankeny said. “It’s probably the most identical the two courses will be all year. It also finishes right in front of a bar. … It’s just a great overall energy and vibe that the Pro Tour is famous for.”


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