Auburn’s Bump Heldman rounds a gate during a race at the Bates College Carnival event at Sunday River in 2012.

Auburn’s Bump Heldman rounds a gate during a race at the Bates College Carnival event at Sunday River in 2012.

AUBURN — Most of Bump Heldman’s focus when he’s been on a hill of late is on the talented Gould Academy alpine skiers he helps coach.

Five years removed from Bates College and active ski competition, the Auburn native will see how much Bump the student — and elite-level competitive skier — and Bump the coach still has in him at the World Pro Ski Tour this weekend. 

Heldman won’t call what he’s doing a comeback, and what does it matter anyway? The once dormant World Pro Ski Tour will be the true comeback story, launching its rebirth at Sunday River this weekend with the Pro Ski Challenge.

If the World Pro Ski Tour rings a bell, it was part of the pro skiing landscape for 30 years, starting in 1970. Now led by former U.S. Pro Ski Tour president Ed Rogers of Bath, the new tour features Olympic, World Cup and NCAA competitors in a dual alpine format. The event is free for spectators, and CBS Sports Network will broadcast the tour’s debut March 19.

Heldman spends most of his time running his family’s sporting goods store in Auburn, Gee & Bee Sports. Though still active on the slopes, his distinguished racing career which included elite competition in the U.S. Ski Team Development Program and ultimately with the national team effectively ended when he graduated from Bates in 2012.

The idea of returning to competitive skiing never clicked until he talked about the tour with friends he’d met on the hill at the recent Bates Carnival. After some research and a little reflection to see how much the competitive fires still burned, he gained a sponsorship from Nancy Marshall Communications and put the training skis back on. 


 Given his relative recent inactivity, and his relative inexperience in the dual format, Heldman has no idea what to expect when he’s in the gate for Friday’s shootout (the top 32 skiers advance to head-to-head racing on Saturday).

“I could surprise myself or I could be surprised how much faster some of those guys are,” he said.

Among “those” guys will be 2012 national GS champion Robby Kelly, 2015 Nor-Am Cup overall champion Michael Ankeny and 2016 national GS champion Kieffer Christianson.

 Heldman hopes to have a bit of a home hill advantage at Sunday River “since I’ve been training on that hill since I was little.” The Monday Mourning Race Arena on Barker Mountain, with its 24 turns, 15-meter gate set and 128-meter vertical drop, “with this format is going to be competitive because it’s on a longer course that’s not going to be very technical,” he said.

While World Cup conflicts kept organizers from staging a women’s event, the event is open to anyone over 18 (registration ends Friday morning).

After handing out over $30,000 in prize money ($10,000 for the winner), the World Pro Ski Tour will move on to other resorts for its first season. Heldman won’t be on the bus, so to speak, but he believes it is going to be able to attract top skiing talent for all of its stops.


“I think it’s a great thing,” he said. “Especially for some of these guys who aren’t quite at the World Cup level. Ski racing is one of the hardest professional sports. Unless you’re one of the top guys, it’s tough to make a living.”

Heldman said he’ll settle for the middle of the pack this weekend. If no prize money, then he’d like to at least take a few stories to the next Bates Carnival about how he can still ski with some of the best.

“I hope so,” he said. “I’ll let you know after (Friday).”

WHO: World Pro Ski Tour

WHAT: Pro Ski Challenge

WHERE: Monday Mourning Race Arena, Sunday River, Newry. 


WHEN: Friday and Saturday. 

FORMAT: Dual alpine skiing. Round of 32 Friday. Top 32 times advance to head-to-head single-elimination bracket, two runs per round.

PRIZE MONEY: Over $30,000 total, 1st place $10,000, 2nd place $5,000, 3rd place $2,500.

COURSE: Super slalom — 15-meter gates, 128 meter vertical drop, two pro-style 1-meter jumps. 


TV: The event is being taped for broadcast on March 19 on CBS Sports Network.



Tim Jitloff – 2-time Olympian, 7-time national champion

Michael Ankeny – U.S. Ski Team member, 2015 Nor-Am Cup overall champion

Ryan Cochran – U.S. Ski Team member, 2012 World Junior champion

David Chodounsky – U.S. Ski Team member, member of 2014 U.S. Olympic team

Bump Heldman – Auburn native, former U.S. Ski Team member, 2-time World Junior competitor

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