SUNDAY RIVER, Maine ??вЂќ For Austria’s Doresia Krings, the Jeep King of the Mountain Professional Skiing & Snowboarding World Championships at Sunday River, Maine, offered a perfect prelude to the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy. For Open Qualifier and four-time U.S. Snowboard Team member Eric Warren of Bennington, Vt., the event may as well have been the Olympics given the thrilling outcome of the day’s races.
In stark contrast to the rain, snow and sleet weather cocktail prevalent during Friday’s National Open Qualifier, crystal blue skies and mild temperatures offered the perfect setting for hundreds of fans lining the finish corral of the Monday Mourning run to cheer on 16 of the world’s most decorated national and international racers. Among them were four 2006 Winter Olympians, former Olympic medalists, world championship titlists and World Cup winners, each battling head-to-head for a share of the $75,000 cash purse and valuable points toward the season-ending crown of World Professional Champion.
Krings, who will be a medal favorite in the Parallel Giant Slalom and Snowboard-Cross in Torino, captured the title by defeating Ursula Smith of Denver, Colo., in the Championship Heat. Krings, the 2005 World Cup Champion in Snowboard Cross, advanced to the finals with victories over Open Qualifier Dara Turgeon of Gilead, Maine, and Leslee Olson of Redmond, Ore., a member of the U.S. Snowboard Team and a participant of the Winter X Games. Smith, the 2003 ISF Snowboard X Silver Medalist, reached the championship round with wins over Open Qualifier Becky Slattery of Bethel, Maine, and Open Qualifier Lynn Ott of Bend, Ore. Ott held off Olson in the Consolation Heat to capture third place in the competition.
In the men’s snowboard bracket, Warren continued the torrid pace he displayed at the National Open Qualifier here on Friday, in which he outraced more than 30 challengers to grab one of only two wild card entries into the World Professional Championships. Once there, the native of Portland, Maine, left little doubt that his snowboarding prowess was no fluke, disposing of Lukas Gruener of Austria, ranked second overall in the FIS Snowboard Cross Standings and Guillaume Nantermod of Switzerland, a former FIS World Champion currently ranked fourth in the world, to reach the Championship Heat. Once there, he shocked fellow U.S. Snowboard Team member Graham Watanabe of Salt Lake City, Utah, who won the 2005 Jeep King of the Mountain title at Crested Butte, Colo., and currently entered the race on top of the standings, by capturing the win. Watanabe, champion of the 2005 Valle Nevado World Cup and South American Cup, earned a trip to the finals with wins over a pair of U.S. Snowboard Team members, Pete Thorndike of Meredith, N.H., and Jeff Greenwood of Portland, Ore. In the Consolation Bracket, Nantermod topped Greenwood for third place honors.
The snowboard racers competed Saturday for $75,000 cash payout. Overall, the Jeep King of the Mountain Series offers the richest prize purse 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.
The Jeep King of the Mountain races from Sunday River will air on CBS Sports on Feb. 19 from 2:30 ??вЂњ 3:30 p.m. EST.
Following this weekend’s event, the Jeep King of the Mountain Series now heads to Squaw Valley Ski Resort in Calif. on Feb. 25-26 for the grand finale of the 2005-2006 Professional Skiing & Snowboarding World Championships. There, 32 ski and snowboard athletes will compete for the title of World Professional Champion, which will be rewarded based on points earned throughout the season, including races at Crested Butte, Colo., Sunshine Village, Banff, Canada, and Sunday River.
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.