US Ski Team member Sam Morse of Carrabassett Valley, ME will compete in his first World Pro Ski Tour event March 30-31 at the Visit Maine Pro Ski Championships at Sunday River. A life-long Sugarloafer, Sam had his biggest race last season in Are, Sweden when he won the World Junior Downhill title. At the age of 21, Sam is currently ranked 9th in the US in Downhill.
The Visit Maine Pro Ski Championships is the third and final event of the 2018 World Pro Ski Tour season and it will mark the second straight year that Sunday River has hosted the tour. Morse, a 2013 graduate of Carrabassett Valley Academy, will compete with other world-class athletes for a piece of the $30,000 prize purse with $10,000 awarded to the winner.
“I’m really excited to get my first experience on the pro tour at a hill that I know so well,” Morse commented. “The field is going to be really tough but I’ve had some good results in Slalom and Giant Slalom this year so I’m feeling strong. The dual format is a unique challenge for everyone but it’s so much fun, I can’t wait.”
Sam is a Mainer through and through. He enjoys white water kayaking and hiking during the off season and is known around the world by the nickname of Mini Moose despite weighing in at 6 feet tall and 200 pounds. He got the nickname because his older brother, Ben was known as Moose during his time on the US Ski Team and later the Dartmouth Ski Team. Ben and Sam’s parents are ministers and operate the Sugarloaf Area Christian Ministry at the base of the mountain.
Entering the finals, 2018 US Olympian Nolan Kasper of Warren, VT is currently leading Michael Ankeny of Wayzata, MN by one point in the season standings; the winner will take home $5,000 and bragging rights as the top pro of the season. Other top competitors are AJ Ginnis, winner of the last World Pro Ski Tour event at Snowmass, CO, Olympians Adam and Andreas Zampa of Slovakia, and NCAA Slalom Champion Tanguy Nef of Switzerland and the Dartmouth Ski Team.
Qualifying runs will take place on Friday, March 30 at 12PM and the finals will start at 11AM on Saturday, March 31. Spectators can watch from the Barker Base Lodge for free both days.
In episode 006 of the World Pro Ski Tour Official Podcast, host Craig Marshall interviews the the only pro tour racer to ever make $1 million in his career, Bernhard Knauss. Bernhard discusses how he made it over to the US initially to compete on the US Pro Ski Tour after competing for the Austrian national ski team. Next he chats about why he was so successful in the dual format and on the pro tour and how he dealt with gaining celebrity in a foreign country. He goes on to reminisce on why the pro tour was the greatest time of his life, why he will always remember the Colorado events because he was very successful and why Phil Mahre was always his toughest competitor. He also wanted to recount some of his favorite stories from off the hill, but we all decided that none of them were appropriate for the family listeners of the podcast. In regards to the WPST, he believes that if the tour can grow and acquire additional international racers then it could be very successful in the future. He also described his life after retirement from the pro tour, with a few years on the amateur circuit (including a 1998 Olympic appearance) which lead to a long career in the ski industry (he now leads the race business for Nordica and Blizzard). Because of that role, Craig asked what he thought about the development of a longer and larger radius “Dual” or “Pro” ski. He also chats about why he thinks the double cross block isn’t a great development for the sport, even though he thinks he may have started the trend. In the fashion segment of the interview, Bernie discussed how he ended up wearing such a hideous “doo-rag” looking hat on the pro tour and how amazed he is that they didn’t wear helmets. Furthermore, he explains how dangerous pro racing was with big jumps, ruts, and straight skis in close proximity to the other racer. In closing, he makes a short comment on the “groupie slalom,” but you’ll have to listen all the way through to find out what he says!
Mark Engel joins host Craig Marshall for an interview on the World Pro Ski Tour Official Podcast Episode 005. To start, Mark discusses his plans for the upcoming season with the University of Utah, the World Pro Ski Tour, and the World Cup. He then goes into some of his World Cup experience, including his 3rd place run in the 2016 Zagreb World Cup slalom. He moves on to discussing the World Pro Ski Tour and why it’s so important for him to have a tour that he can compete on in the United States as opposed to traveling around the world competing out of a duffel bag. Next, he chats about the technical side of dual and what he focuses on to be fast, including why he hasn’t utilized the double cross block in the last few dual events. He also chats about how the pressure of having a fast competitor next to you has really killed his ability to ski as fast in the finals as opposed to qualification. Finally, Engel chats about the history of his commitment to Christianity and how that progression has intermingled with his development as a ski racer. Make sure to listen to the podcast all the way through for a really fun bonus at the end (hint: it shows off Mark’s musical talent)!
In Episode 004 of the World Pro Ski Tour Official Podcast presented by Ski Racing Media, 2017 Sunday River Pro Ski Challenge champion David Chodounsky joins host Craig Marshall for a conversation. Chodounsky is unique because he was an NCAA Champion at Dartmouth and made the move to the World Cup after graduation. Towards the end of the interview, Chodounsky comments on how he was disappointed that Mikaela Shiffrin and other top athletes didn’t compete in the Olympic team event. To begin, he discussed his retirement this summer and how he plans to take advantage of his degree in Engineering and Earth Sciences in the professional world going forward. He goes on to chat about how his college racing career helped him on the World Cup and and why the college circuit should be utilized for the US Ski Team. He moves on to chat about the World Pro Ski Tour- why he has enjoyed it, how its presence could affect future junior athletes, what the most important technical focuses are, when the double cross block is most useful, and why variety in the dual format can make it more exciting. He moves on to discuss why he’d like to see more European World Cup athletes compete on the WPST and his entire career in dual starting from a young age in Buck Hill to the 2018 Olympic team event. In conclusion, Daver hints that he may be in attendance at a World Pro Ski Tour event in the future- maybe as a spectator and maybe as a competitor!
In Episode 003 of the World Pro Ski Tour Official Podcast presented by Ski Racing Media, host Craig Marshall checks in with Robby Kelley. Robby begins by updating the fans on his recovery from hip surgery and his plans for this winter to race on the World Cup without a devoted USST Men’s Slalom Team. He goes on to explain the different ways that he’s competed throughout his career (US Ski Team, UVM, Redneck Racing, etc.) and how that has shaped his approach to training and racing at the moment. He then chats about why he loves the WPST so much and what the most important components are to success in pro racing. Later on Robby chats about how the lack of funding from the USST has affected the challenges of top junior athletes to make it to the top levels of the sport. In the same vein, he explains why the World Cup isn’t really a “World Cup” because so many of the events are hosted in Europe and not other continents, a huge challenge for non-Europeans. Next, he explains how a few other factors helped his career- being a Cochran and racing with UVM as opposed to the US Development Team. Finally, he shares some interesting thoughts regarding new ways to make the dual format and WPST events more exciting with crazy terrain, longer courses, and single pole slalom.
In Episode 002 of the World Pro Ski Tour Official Podcast, AJ Ginnis joined host Craig Marshall for a conversation. AJ first updated everyone on his season ending knee injury sustained in New Zealand and how that will affect him going forward. Then he discussed his childhood growing up in Greece and learning to ski in Austria before moving to the US to attend GMVS. He then went over his experience on the World Cup since his debut four years ago at the age of 20. He describes his best ever run going 58th to 13th at Madonna in 2016, his infamous rookie haircut, the challenge of trying to qualify for second runs with a high start number and his biggest focus to improve when he makes his return to the WC. He then moved on to describe his first experience on the World Pro Ski Tour when he lost the title at Sunday River after falling in the final gates. He goes on to talk about how much he enjoys the World Pro Ski Tour and why he thinks the dual should be utilized more in the world of ski racing. Towards the end of the interview, AJ discussed the double cross blocking technique, why a specially designed ski for dual slalom could be valuable to athletes and the differences between parallel events on the WPST and the World Cup. In wrapping up, AJ sheds light on his thoughts as to how the US Ski Team can more effectively translate success of junior athletes to the World Cup success.
The World Pro Ski Tour Official Podcast launched Thursday with an interview of Michael Ankeny with the tour’s Craig Marshall. After finishing in third in all four World Pro Ski Tour events thus far, he has proven himself as one of the top pro racers on tour. In the interview, Ankeny discusses his recently announced retirement from FIS World Cup racing and how the elimination of the US Ski Team World Cup Slalom team affected that decision. He goes on to explain how the WPST “reestablished his passion for the sport” because as he mentioned, “I was a little burned out.” He went on to elaborate how the dual pro format elevates his performance through a “change in perspective.” He also details his conversations with some European World Cup athletes such as Julien Lizeroux and Linus Strasser, saying that “I don’t think they can beat us” on the WPST. Finally, he chats about his personal focus on the technical side in the WPST and his biggest mental weaknesses that he will need to overcome in order to win a WPST title. Enjoy the interview!
Because the story about Bernie Knauss from a few weeks back was so popular, we want to bring you some other old stories that we find in the archives. This one is by Frank W. Martin from People Magazine, January 23, 1978. We can only hope that the new World Pro Ski Tour athletes will have as much crossover appeal as the old pros like Josef Odermatt had! Enjoy.
There has never been much question about the blond and sinewy Josef Odermatt’s claim to the late Spider Sabich’s title as sex symbol of the slopes. But was the Swiss skier as good on the boards as in bed? Just four years ago the Swiss ski federation threw him off the national team, explaining that he’d never make a great racer. “I show them they were wrong,” he says in his powdery English, and so he came to the States and turned pro. The past two years he finished second on the world tour to Henri Duvillard, and this year, with the French champ retired, Odermatt is, at 25, en route to becoming the dominant pro racer.
The training and competition have not totally eliminated his après-ski activities. Last October he was named Cosmo Bachelor of the Month. The groupie slalom seems to be an unavoidable part of the course. “If they really want you, there’s no way out,” finds Josef. “So you say what the hell. I don’t overdo, but maybe I take a bite and not the whole plate.”
The oldest of three children, Odermatt was raised in the Swiss mountain village of Dallenwil. At 3½ he put on his first pair of skis; by 5 his father was already seriously grooming him. “There wasn’t much else to do up there,” he says, but he soon found something. By 15 he had lost his virginity and was using a rabbit hutch on his family’s farm for a trysting place, since “nobody ever catch me there in all that hay.” As a member of the Swiss “A” team at 19, he was as well-known for practical joking as for skiing—he once put itching powder inside a teammate’s pajamas. Ultimately Josef rebelled against skiing because of pressure from his father to be the best. “I lost the fun of it,” he explains. After his hell-raising and erratic record led to a fallout with the Swiss ski authorities, he became a carpenter in his father’s factory for five months before taking off for the States.
Arriving in the U.S. in 1974 with enough for a banged-up car and two months’ expenses, he remarkably wound up third on the tour with $31,700 in earnings in his rookie season. “I had to start all over again,” he recalls. “Those other guys had equipment, endorsements, everything. I had nothing.”
Things are booming as well as schussing for Odermatt these days. With his gross up to $100,000 last year, he has real estate investments, two cars (though he sold the $40,000 Ferrari he bought last summer after burning out three sets of tires) and a $95,000 Aspen condo he shares with Cindi Martinek, a United Airlines stew. They met in 1975 when she was vacationing with her family in Europe and he was visiting his parents. After giving the Martineks a tour of Switzerland, Odermatt asked Cindi to stay. She refused. “Men come and go,” says Cindi, “but not my job.” After Odermatt contacted her when he returned to the States, she had both.
“If I didn’t trust Josef, I’d go crazy with all the ski groupies,” she says, then adds thoughtfully, “but I hope if he desires another woman he will be smart enough not to let me know about it.” Of Cindi’s time on the road, Odermatt likewise reasons, “What I don’t know won’t hurt me.”
Cindi is more than willing not to press the marriage issue. “Skiing is No. 1 for Josef right now,” she says. “When skiing is over, there is plenty of time for me to be No. 1.” That’s just as well, since Odermatt seems little inclined to share the spoils. “I not freeze my ass off on the mountain for taxes,” he grumbles, “or to give money away in a divorce.”
SNOWMASS, CO. – The World Pro Ski Tour has returned for its first full season of racing and its first western event in more than 20 years with the Rocky Mountain Pro Ski Classic at Snowmass, Colorado, on March 9 and 10, 2018.
The event will feature the professional dual alpine ski race format and the field includes Olympian Nolan Kasper fresh back from the games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Kasper won the first event of the 2018 World Pro Ski Tour at Waterville Valley, New Hampshire, and will be challenged by 30-plus other World Cup and NCAA competitors from across the country and around the world. The dual side-by-side course will be set up on the Blue Grouse Trail.
The event will be free and open to the public, and televised on CBS Sports Network, the 24-hour home of CBS Sports, which is available nationally, on April 8 at 2:30 p.m. ET. The other two events will also air on CBS Sports Network on April 1 at 1 p.m. ET for The White Mountain Dual Challenge at Waterville Valley, New Hampshire, and April 15 at 12:30 p.m. ET for the Visit Maine Pro Ski Championship at Sunday River, Maine.
“We are thrilled to be bringing the Pro Tour to Snowmass,” said Ed Rogers president of the World Pro Ski Tour. “The Aspen area has an incredible legacy of professional dual ski racing and this event will kick off a new chapter of that story.”
The first stop on the tour was Waterville Valley, New Hampshire, on Feb. 8 through 10, and the final event will be at Sunday River, Maine, on March 29 to 31. The World Pro Ski Tour is supported by premier sponsors Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Maine Office of Tourism and Greenhead Lobster, along with many other tour partners.
Schedule of Events
Thursday, March 8:
3 to 6 p.m. Base Camp: Registration
4 to 6 p.m. Base Camp: Tito’s Handmade Vodka Athlete Welcome Reception
Friday, March 9:
12 p.m. Rocky Mountain Pro Ski Classic Qualifier
4 to 6 p.m. Venga Venga: Tito’s Handmade Vodka Après Ski Party
9 to 11 p.m. The Grey Lady: Tito’s Late-Night Party
Saturday, March 10:
11 a.m. Rocky Mountain Dual Pro Ski Classic Finals
3 p.m. Awards Ceremony
4 to 6 p.m. Base Camp: Tito’s Handmade Vodka Après Ski Party
8 to 10 p.m. The Red Onion: Tito’s Rocky Mountain Dual Pro Ski Classic closing party