Ankeny defeats Captain America, leads World Pro Ski Tour stop in Steamboat
Steamboat Pilot & Today
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The Joker and Captain America faced off Tuesday night on Howelsen Hill.
Michael Ankeny has earned the nickname, the “Joker,” through his time on the World Pro Ski Tour, while Rob Cone is now considered “Captain America.”
While their alter egos exist in different worlds and have never met, an Ankeny-Cone showdown is a frequent occurrence in this universe.
At least one of the World Pro Ski Tour regulars has been in the final in all but one of the five races so far this winter, and Cone has been on the podium every time.
The duo regularly meet in the semis, but they haven’t encountered each other in the final since last year’s Moose Barrows Trophy in Steamboat Springs, which Cone won.
This year, Ankeny won the battle, winning the Moose Barrows trophy on Tuesday and taking over the top spot on the World Pro Ski Tour leaderboard.
“It goes back probably three or four years now,” Ankeny said. “Rob’s gotten the better of me through most of it. It just so happens we always end up on the same side of the ladder. More often than not, we meet each other in the semifinals. Today we met on the finals stage, and it’ll go back and forth.”
Both are competitors who ski to win, but the feud is all in good fun.
“It’s definitely a really friendly rivalry,” Cone said. “We’re buddies and we’re sharing tactics on how to ski the course even when we’re up against each other. But as soon as the countdown begins, it’s sort of our own focus and it’s competitive again.”
Photos: WPST in Steamboat Springs
The two learn from each other regularly. Ankeny said he’s improved his ability to focus on himself and what he can control, something he said Cone is really good at.
Not focusing on himself almost cost Ankeny the title on Tuesday. He started the second run of the finals with a 0.6 second advantage over Cone, who had caught up halfway through the course.
However, Cone stumbled, which distracted Ankeny.
“I slipped up a little bit at the beginning, and then I started getting more into my groove, and I see out of the corner of my eye this little poof of snow,” Ankeny said. “That split second of lack of concentration, I just got in the backseat.”
Ankeny collected himself before missing a gate. He tossed a ski pole between his legs, twirling his other hand like a lasso, and rode across the finish line uncontested.
Ankeny not only won the event Tuesday — he won the Winter Carnival Cup 24 hours earlier. The Rocket Mortgage Women’s Tour also competed on Monday, seeing Norway’s Tuva Norbye win her second straight event after she also won in Aspen.
She’s won both competitions this year and will look to repeat at the championships at Taos Ski Valley in New Mexico in April.
Perhaps, in the men’s championship, the Joker and Captain America will have another showdown of superhero proportions.
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