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NEWRY — It was good to see red on Saturday for World Pro Ski Tour racers at Sunday River.

The red course proved to be the faster of the two when it mattered most, and Nolan Kasper and Alexa Dlouhy used it to earn wins in the Visit Maine Pro Ski Championship.

Kasper went down the red course for the second of his two runs in both the semifinal and final rounds, and had time to make up going into both runs. He trailed Michael Ankeny by .159 seconds going into a semifinal that would determine the tour champion in the third and final event of the three-event season, then faced a .298 second hole against Adam Zampa in the final.

“I think you always have to fight,” Kasper said. “These courses, they break down, they don’t break down evenly. Sometimes you’ll have a better track, and it seemed like the red course was holding up a little better. Honestly it was great to have the … faster course the second run, because I knew I had to charge, and even though I was down a little bit, it just comes down to really having to go and really having to take a sacrifice a bit and risk it and see where it ends up.”

Kasper, who had a one-point lead over Ankeny for the tour title going into this weekend, wrapped up the crown and it’s $10,000 prize with the comeback victory in the semifinals. He then edged Zampa by .325 seconds in the second side-by-side run of the finals to win another $5,000 for the event win.

“It’s amazing,” Kasper said. “Obviously, it was high-stress.”

While Kasper had a great finish in the final, Zampa had a forgettable start to his second run.

“I was leading, but then the second run I missed the start a little bit. I was sleeping, I don’t know why. And then I pushed, but in the end it’s three-hundredths that he won at the end on,” Zampa said. “He’s a good racer. I’m very happy to finish second. It’s better than to go out in the first round.

“The better (skier) won today, and it’s good motivation for me to come back, and I think that I’ll be back.”

The American Kasper and Slovakian Zampa — who both coincidentally had brothers, Masen Kasper and Andreas Zampa, compete in the event — both participated in the recent Winter Olympics. Kasper made the team after coming back from four knee surgeries since 2015.

“It’s been an amazing year,” Kasper said.

Ankeny settled for third place at an event for the fourth time in a row on the revamped tour, thanks to a consolation-round win over former Middlebury College skier Jack Schibli. He was third in the lone event at Sunday River last year, and completed a clean sweep as the consolation champion in all three events this year.

“I wouldn’t say it’s disappointing because I’m on an elite podium with some of my best friends that I get to ski with year round,” Ankeny said. “I would like to see a little more progression in my skiing. I’d like to see myself be able to handle the pressure of a semifinals a little bit better. So in that regard it might be a little disappointing, but to lose to two Olympians … I can’t be too mad.”

The women’s final also came down to a race among friends. Dlouhy trailed Dartmouth College teammate Foreste Peterson by .396 seconds entering the second run, but like Kasper was on the red course with a chance to make up that time. She rallied by out-slaloming Peterson by .692 seconds the second time down to rally for a title in the inaugural women’s event.

“Coming into it I was thinking I really had to use ruts, kind of play the grooves. … I really wanted to use the conditions to my advantage,” Dlouhy, from Montreal, said. “Midway through we were pretty neck and neck, so I knew I was behind and had time to make up, so that’s when I started really hard, and it worked out.”

“I knew that I couldn’t read into (my lead) too much, just because the conditions got really tough, so I knew that any small mistake was going to cost me my lead, and that’s kind of what happened to me my second run,” the Californian Peterson said.

Peterson said the blue course seemed to be “a little bumpier in spots.”

Former University of New Hampshire racer Morgan Klein beat former Colby College skier Makayla Brown in the consolation final.

The blue course also bit Maine men’s racer Sam Morse, who lost to Kasper in the quarterfinals. Morse, who grew up skiing at Sugarloaf, was 19th fastest in Friday’s qualifying, but he out-skied his seed in the first round against Phillippe Rivet of Canada and Carter Robertson of York in the second round.

“I was kind of on the competitive side of the bracket, it was pretty stiff competition down there, so right from round one I had to go at it,” Morse said. “Being my first pro tour, kind of just learning the game, learning the tricks of the trade, so I was super happy with how far I went.”

Morse was holding his own in his first run against Kasper, but took a fall part way down and entered the second run with a maximum differential of .750 seconds.

“I think the blue course is a little more beat up now, so I knew I was kind of at a little bit of a disadvantage,” Morse said. “I was just a hair off Nolan, and I was trying to keep it going. Right at the bottom here the blue course straightens out a little more, so I was like ‘okay, this is go time.’ I just kind of juiced the tails a little too much and it’s pro racing. One second you’re in it, one second you’re out.”

Morse was able to make up .457 seconds on Kasper in the second run, but he said the eventual champion was “just obviously trying to keep pace with me.”

Nolan Kasper and Adam Zampa come out of the starting gate for the final run during the World Pro Ski Tour event Saturday at Sunday River Ski Resort in Newry. Kasper overcame a deficit to defeat Zampa for the victory. (Brewster Burns photo)Sam Morse leans into a gate at the bottom of the course during the World Pro Ski Tour event Saturday at Sunday River Ski Resort in Newry. (Brewster Burns photo)Mark Engel almost loses control coming off the last jump during the World Pro Ski Tour event Saturday at Sunday River Ski Resort in Newry. (Brewster Burns photo)


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