Seven 2006 Winter Olympians Among World's Best at Squaw Valley for Jeep® King of the Mountain


February 20, 2006

VAIL. Colo. (King of the Mountain Press Release)—The line-up of former Olympic Champions that have competed in the Jeep® King of the Mountain Series during its 13 years as professional snow sports’ most prestigious event reads like a who’s who list of the biggest names in the sport. Among the notables include Franz Klammer (’76 Innsbruck), Leonard Stock (’80 Lake Placid), Bill Johnson (’84 Sarajevo), Pirmin Zurbriggen (’88 Calgary), Josef Polig (’92 Albertville), Tommy Moe (’94 Lillehammer) and Jean-Luc Cretier (’98 Nagano).

At the grand finale of the 2005-2006 Professional Skiing & Snowboarding World Championships, set for Feb. 25-26 at Squaw Valley USA, Calif., the rosters will again feature some of the most talented racers in their respective sports. They include national and international champions, World Cup titlists and World Championship medalists, seven of whom will have recently returned from competing in the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy.

The Jeep King of the Mountain Series, which offers the richest cash purse in snow racing, will feature 32 of the world’s top skiers and snowboarders competing head-to-head in this final race of the season to capture the coveted title of World Professional Champion. Also at stake is a share of the record prize payout topping $450,000 (U.S.) 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 event will begin with a National Open Qualifier on Saturday morning, Feb. 25, allowing top-notch amateur and professional ski and snowboard racers to earn a spot against the world’s best for a shot at the title of World Professional Champion. National Open Qualifier registration information can be found at www.jeepsports.com. Then on Sunday, Feb. 26, the Professional Skiing & Snowboarding World Championships will take center stage, with the top male and female skier and snowboarder earning the coveted King of the Mountain crown.

In the men’s snowboarding competition, defending Jeep King of the Mountain World Professional Champion Jasey Jay Anderson will arrive in Squaw Valley on the heels of his appearance in the 2006 Winter Olympics. The Canadian Rocket, with more than 20 World Cup wins accumulated over his career, currently sits in second place and will be trying to overtake Graham Watanabe of Salt Lake City, Utah, a member of the U.S. Snowboard team who placed first at the 2005 Valle Nevado World Cup and South American Cup and earned a last minute spot at the Winter Olympics following a teammate’s injury. Holding onto third place is Jeff Greenwood of Portland, Ore., a Jeep King of the Mountain event titlist in 2005 and member of the U.S. Snowboard Team. Rounding out the top four is 2006 Winter Olympian Dieter Krassnig of Austria, who has amassed 53, career top-10 World Cup finishes. The remaining challengers in this formidable roster include 2006 Winter Olympian Lukas Gruener of Austria, ranked second overall in the FIS Snowboard-Cross standings, Guillaume Nantermod of Switzerland, a former FIS World Champion currently ranked fourth in the world, and fellow U.S. Snowboard teammates Eric Warren of Bennington, Vt., and Pete Thorndike of Meredith, N.H.

In the women’s snowboarding competition, 2006 Winter Olympian Doresia Krings of Austria holds down the top spot. Krings, the 2005 World Cup Champion in Snowboard Cross, won the most recent Jeep King of the Mountain title in Sunday River, Maine, and enters the race with tremendous momentum. Right behind her sits a pair of Americans in Leslee Olson of Redmond, Ore., a member of the U.S. Snowboard team, and Ursula Smith of Denver, Colo., the 2003 ISF Snowboard X Silver Medalist. In fourth place is the ever-dangerous Julie Pomagalski of France, a World Cup titlist and 2006 Winter Olympian who is easily one of tthe most captivating athletes in the series. Rounding out the roster of competitors includes U.S. Snowboard team member Marni Yamada of Seattle, Wash., Lynn Ott of Bend, Ore., and Austria’s dynamic duo, 2006 Winter Olympian Manuela Riegler and her sister, Claudia Riegler. [pagebreak]In the men’s skiing competition, a battle is brewing between the top two contenders, Tomas Kraus of the Czech Republic and Aspen, Colo.’s Casey Puckett. Each has won a Jeep King of the Mountain race title this season, and neither has finished outside the top three. Both athletes bring impressive credentials to Squaw Valley, with Kraus standing as the 2005 FIS World Cup winner and FIS World Champion, and the four-time Olympian Puckett having earned the Jeep King of the Mountain World Professional Champion title 2004. Winter X Games champion Enak Gavaggio of France sits in third place in the standings, followed by defending Jeep King of the Mountain World Professional Champion Martin Fiala of Germany and Winter X Games champion Davey Barr of Canada. Other notables vying for the title include Isidor Gruener of Austria, second overall in the 2005 FIS Skier Cross World Championships, and Americans Jake Fiala of Frisco, Colo., Cody Smith of Spokane, Wash., and Tyler Shepherd of Boulder, Colo.

In the women’s skiing competition, Ophelie David of France has created a nearly insurmountable lead over her challengers. The 2003 World Cup Champion has already won the Jeep King of the Mountain individual titles in Crested Butte, Colo., and Sunshine Village, Banff, Canada, this season, and is looking to capture the coveted title of World Professional Champion. To achieve this feat, she’ll have to hold off defending Jeep King of the Mountain World Professional Champion and U.S. Freeskiing gold medalist Karin Huttary of Austria. Right behind the pair is Australian Jenny Owens, who has had great success throughout the season as an Open Qualifier, Magdalena Iljans of Sweden, a Silver Medalist at the 2005 World Championships, and Franziska Steffen of Switzerland, who achieved three top-10 World Cup finishes in the 2003-2004 season. Two other notables worth keeping an eye on include Brett Buckles of Hayden, Colo., a 2005 Winter Gravity Games gold medalist, and Canadian National Ski Team member Anik Demers.

Running from December 2005 through February 2006, the Jeep King of the Mountain Series features races at some of the most spectacular outdoor havens in the U.S. and Canada, each offering world-class recreational facilities and breathtaking scenic backdrops. In December, the season kicked off at Crested Butte, Colo., before beginning the New Year with an event at Sunshine Village, Banff. The most recent event took place earlier in February at Sunday River, Maine.

A national audience will be able to view the Jeep King of the Mountain Series race from Squaw Valley USA on March 25 from 1:00 — 2:00 p.m. EST on CBS Sports, and on nationally syndicated television across the U.S. between March 13 and April 2.

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.