GRANBY RANCH, Colo. – There’s a fresh force to be reckoned with on the World Pro Ski Tour and his name is Drew Duffy.
The 26-year-old recent Dartmouth graduate came out swinging Sunday in the second race of the 2021-22 series at Granby Ranch.
After his WPST debut on Saturday, in which he missed the podium by mere hundredths of a second, Duffy threw down the fastest time in Sunday’s qualifying runs, earning himself a bye in the first elimination round. He then summarily took down seasoned parallel slalom athletes Tucker Marshall and Simon Breitfuss Kammerlander. Finding himself in the semi-finals, he was going up against Olympian Nolan Kasper, who won Saturday’s season-opening WPST race after taking down two-time overall tour champion Rob Cone.
Cone and Kasper faced off in the quarter finals Sunday, launching out of the start gate in expertly timed unison. Kasper somehow found speed that Cone couldn’t on the middle and latter sections of the course, however, edging Cone by about a tenth of a second in each run.
Kasper maintained his edge launching out of the start in the final round against Duffy. Although they were the only two athletes of the entire field who appeared to find speed on the relatively flat course, Duffy found more of it, making up time lost on the start to cross the finish line hundredths of a second faster than Kasper.
“Coming into that second run, it was only four hundredths of a second. I was joking with Nolan going up, like, it’s still tied, winner take all here. I just kept that mentality. I figured why not go as hard as I can? There’s no other choice,” Duffy said, adding that having both Kasper and Cone get a jump on him out of the start fueled his motivation to find speed elsewhere.
“I expected each of those guys to be out in front, so I figured I’ve got to do everything in my power to make it up on the course,” Duffy said. “There was some speed to be had. I was trying to hone my inner super G and downhill skills. I think that paid off going over the jumps and straightening it out as fast as possible, plus just working the flats and getting my foot in the grooves.”
Cone said he couldn’t figure out how to employ similar tactics until his final two runs, in which he was already competing in the small final.
“Nolan was making it happen, Drew was, too,” Cone said. “I was slow to pick up on that and that’s what yielded a third place. They’re really pumping it, juicing their skis from tip to tail. Contrary to that, I was trying to fly low and be aerodynamic, trying to be a little more subtle but still work the skis. It worked out yesterday, but today was a little different.”
Kasper walked away the big winner of the weekend, pocketing a total of more than $14,000 after his win Saturday and second place Sunday.
“It’s about heart, determination and resiliency,” he said. “I learned a lot of that getting seven surgeries over a six-year span of my career.”
Duffy was not expecting to take home $12,000 coming into the weekend, but he already has some clear plans about how he’ll spend it.
“I bought a pretty expensive flight to go to Italy over Christmas and visit my girlfriend [World Cup racer Nina O’Brien],” Duffy said. “I’ve got a bunch of student loans I might put it towards, maybe buy some nice Christmas presents for my parents. They’re probably psyched because they weren’t getting anything before.”
The World Pro Ski Tour continues in 2022 with head-to-head men’s and women’s racing in Aspen Jan. 8-9, Howelsen Hill in Steamboat Feb. 14-15 and finals in Taos, N.M., in April.