SUNDAY RIVER, Maine ??вЂќ Friday, Feb. 3, 2006 ??вЂњ Cold weather, rain, sleet, snow. This may sound like a phrase from the mailman’s credo, but it would aptly describe the strange weather faced by 36 brave snowboarders taking part in the Jeep King of the Mountain National Open Qualifier today at Sunday River Resort in Bethel, Maine.
The inclement conditions were not enough to damper the enthusiasm of the national and international participants who came from as close by as the neighboring communities of Bethel and Gilead, Maine, to as far away as Bend, Ore., to try and earn a wildcard invitation to professional snow sports’ most prestigious event, the Professional Skiing & Snowboarding World Championships. The World Championships will take place here on Saturday, Feb. 4, at 12:00 p.m.
Each athlete received two timed runs down a Parallel Giant Slalom and snowboar-cross integrated racecourse known simply as “The Y.” At the end of the day, the following five athletes posted the fastest times and now have an opportunity to compete against the most decorated racers in the world for a share of the $75,000 prize purse:
Athlete Event Hometown
1. Pete Thorndike Men’s Snowboard Meredith, NH
2. Eric Warren Men’s Snowboard Bennington, VT
3. Lynn Ott Women’s Snowboard Bend, OR
4. Becky Slattery Women’s Snowboard Bethel, ME
5. Dara Turgeon Women’s Snowboard Gilead, ME
If Saturday’s event was challenging for the five open qualifiers, the path to victory grows even more difficult from here. Saturday’s Professional Skiing and Snowboarding World Championships will pit them against a line-up of 11 national and international professionals that has produced Olympic medals, world championship titles, national titles and numerous world cup victories between them. Five of the athletes, including Jasey Jay Anderson of Canada and Austrians Doresia Krings, Dieter Krassnig and Lukas Gruner, will be heading to the upcoming 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy.
In addition to battling one another, the qualifiers will be racing on the Jeep King of the Mountain Series’ Y-shaped racecourse. The innovative course design delivers high-speed excitement in a format that combines the technical skill of Parallel Giant Slalom with the cutting edge drama of skier-cross and boarder-cross. The Y has proved ideal for skiers and snowboarders alike, and the Jeep King of the Mountain Series is the only series to combine the racing elements of these two sports into one event. Racers begin on separate courses and must maneuver Parallel Giant Slalom turns. Midway through the course, racers meet at the Y, the point where the two parallel courses merge into one. There, skiers and snowboarders must race side-by-side on a single course while negotiating banked turns and single and double rollers leading to an exciting finish.
The snowboard racers will be competing Saturday for a $75,000 cash purse. Overall, the Jeep King of the Mountain Series offers the richest cash payout in snow racing, including $450,000 (U.S.) in prize money plus $20,000 (U.S.) in additional bonuses from John Paul Mitchell Systems. Adding to the allure of the event, this year the keys to four new 2006 Jeep Commanders will be presented to the men’s and women’s ski and snowboard champions.
A national audience will be able to view the Feb. 4 Jeep King of the Mountain Series races from Sunday River on CBS Sports on Feb. 19, 2006 from 2:30 ??вЂњ 3:30 p.m. EST.
Following this weekend’s race, the racers will now head to the grand finale of the season, set for February 25-26 at Squaw Valley Ski Resort in Calif.
The Jeep King of the Mountain was established in 1993. Jeep is the title sponsor for the Jeep King of the Mountain Series. The Professional Skiing & Snowboarding World Championships are the sister competition to summertime’s Jeep King of the Mountain Professional Mountain Biking World Championships. Other marketing partners for this season include: Atomic, Columbia Sportswear Company, Edge Advanced shave gel, John Paul Mitchell Systems, Mopar, Sirius Satellite Radio and Ski Press Magazine.
About Jeep?В® Brand
The Jeep brand is synonymous with freedom, adventure, mastery and authenticity. It is a reputation earned during more than six decades of 4×4 leadership. The launch this year of the Jeep Commander at the New York International Auto Show represents continued strengthening and growth of the Jeep brand. Jeep Trail Rated communicates the legendary Jeep capability that is designed into every Jeep 4×4. As the brand’s lineup expands, Jeep vehicles will continue to be what they have always been ??вЂњ the most capable.