Turner’s Sam Ricker will compete at this weekend’s World Pro Ski Tour at Sunday River Ski Resort. (Bob Story photo)

Without prompting, Sam Ricker recalled the last time he skied Sunday River’s Monday Mourning as a Leavitt Area High School senior eight years ago.

“I missed the first gate in (Class A) state slalom and was disqualified,” he said.

Ricker returns to the hill Friday for the World Pro Ski Tour’s return, joining over 40 others for the open dual race vying for the $10,000 first prize.

“I’m looking for a little redemption,” he said with a laugh.

The 2015 UMaine-Farmington grad and former Vail ski instructor will be making his second appearance on the tour, which president Ed Rogers revived last year with a lone race at Sunday River.

Ricker competed at Waterville Valley in early February in the middle of this year’s three-leg tour, which started in Colorado. He qualified for the final 30, recovering his $150 entry fee in the process, then fell in the quarterfinals after two runs against Tucker Marshall.

Ricker, who took the plunge at the dual racing tour at the urging of his father, legendary UMF ski coach Harry Ricker, enjoys the unusual format and loves that it is open to any Alpine athlete over the age of 18.

“It’s a really fun event, and it’s open to everyone, which is a really cool piece to it,” said the 26-year-old Ricker, who lives in Turner and manages his family’s apple farm, Ricker Hill Orchards.

The event begins at noon on Friday with qualifying. A women’s division has been added this year with eight skiers starting on Saturday. That is also when the men’s winner will be crowned and $30,000 in overall prize money will be awarded.

The tour’s overall champion will also be determined Saturday. Michael Ankeny, who has third-place finishes on the first two tour stops, and U.S. Olympian Nolan Kasper, the winner at Waterville, are expected to battle for the $5,000 title prize.

Other notable competitors expected include Carrabassett Valley Academy alum and U.S. National team member Sam Morse, U.S. Olympian Mark Engel, Slovakian Olympian brothers Adam and Andreas Zampa, as well as several NCAA champions.

Ricker is looking forward to the challenge of the course, which features a couple of jumps and “unrelenting” pitch. Describing himself as more of a skier than a ski racer, he’s hoping for a little rain before or during racing.

“I’m thinking the worse conditions, the better chance I have,” he said.

He said fans will love the non-stop action of the dual skiing format. He expects his adrenaline will be pumping well before he reaches the spectators at the base, though.

“It’s some raw ski racing action and very viewer-friendly,” said Ricker, who did some dual racing in USCA events while at Farmington. 

The race will be televised on CBS Sports Network on April 15.

Turner’s Sam Ricker will compete at this weekend’s World Pro Ski Tour at Sunday River Ski Resort. (Annie Seighman photo)

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