The World Pro Ski Tour (WPST) hosted the Alpine Bank Jr. World Pro Challenge ski race in Steamboat Springs in March. The race awarded college scholarships to the top four racers from Ski Club Vail and Winter Sports Club in Steamboat. Utilizing the WPST pros as mentors, 16 racers under age 14 experienced the dual format, saloon-style start gates and pro jumps. Just like the pros! The eight kids from Ski Club Vail qualified for the race at the Prater Cup in Crested Butte.
Olympian and former World Cup racer Chad Fleischer said, “It was a day of firsts.” First time scholarship money was won by kids at a junior ski race. First time multiple generations of ski racers took part together– from Billy Kidd (Olympic silver medal 1964 and World Pro Ski Tour Champion 1970) to Chad Fleischer (World Cup Star 1990s) and Phil Brown (World Championship silver medal 2017, World Pro Ski Tour Champion 2019), as well as other current racing pros.
Coaches said it was also the first time the junior racers from the different Colorado valleys played together, skied together and connected as friends and colleagues. Lifelong lessons of giving, camaraderie and competition, along with an appreciation of the joy of skiing, could be seen on the Steamboat slopes on that snowy day.
The kids from both clubs got to practice their television interview skills with CBS Sports Reporter Pam Fletcher. The race aired on CBS
Sports television network on April 29. Now available on Hulu or Roku or on YouTube here.
Chad Fleischer and Alpine Bank’s Betsy Wood presented the top junior racers trophies donated by Billy Kidd and Moose Barrows (trophies originally won at the 1964 and 1968 Olympics). This generous gesture by Moose and Billy was a poignant way of carrying the tradition of ski racing forward to a new generation.
Parent Stephanie Orozco summed up the day, “The JR pro ski event was amazing. I heard the word FUN a million times, smiles on all the kids faces and sheer pride of conquering the pro course. It was so well done. Very soulful and special because of Billy and Moose’s contribution of stories and historic trophies. There was so much integrity and respect. In addition, the Vail Wolfpack and Steamboat Outlaws rolled around in the snow waiting for the awards like a bunch of 13-year-old boys. We need more events like this! So grateful!”
Junior racers winning college scholarships provided by Alpine Bank were Alex Krupka in first, $1,000 (SSCV), in second was Speedy Richeda winning $500 (SSWSC), third was Jonah Fleischer for $300 (SSWSC), and in fourth was Hunter Salani prize of $200 (SSCV). The Overall Team title and trophy was awarded to Steamboat’s Ski Club.