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Aspen Mountain To Host Jeep King Of The Mountain World Professional Ski And Snowboard Championship Finals

Vail, CO — The Jeep King of the Mountain Series will finish up its 10th Anniversary Season by returning to the site of its very first race in 1994, beautiful Aspen Mountain for the World Professional Ski and Snowboard Championship Finals February 21-22, 2003. Set to air on CBS March 1 and 8, the Series is the most widely recognized and most prestigious professional ski/snowboard series in the world and has attracted 24 of the most elite ski and snowboard racers from six countries to participate this year. "We agree that the ideal venue for the King of the Mountain to crown its champions is right here in Aspen. The town has a long history with this event and it has always been operated and telecast in a very high caliber way," said David Perry, Senior Vice President, Aspen Skiing Company. "The new format, the excitement of racing under the lights and the world-class field make this an event not to be missed."

The races begin on the Little Nell race course on Aspen Mountain on Friday, February 21 with training runs for the athletes at 9:30 a.m., the National Open Qualifier at 10:30 p.m., and the final Jeep King of the Mountain Challenge race at 2:00 p.m. The professional races held Saturday, February 22 with the first round of 16 at 11:30 a.m., and the semi-finals and finals at 6:00 p.m.

Each of the races at Mammoth Mountain, CA, Boyne Mountain, MI and Loon Mountain, NH, have utilized the Series' unique new "Y race course, designed to combine the technical skill of Parallel Giant Slalom with the cutting edge drama of Speedcross for a thrilling event for both the athletes and spectators. Instead of a simple fast track, the new design begins with a side-by-side dual slalom course. Midway through the course, the two racers are forced together and must navigate a single set of gates ending with a table jump and an all out sprint to the finish.

Unlike years past, this year's Jeep King of the Mountain races are not based on times, but who wins the head-to-head match up. Skiers and snowboarders compete against each other in a progressive race format where winners continue to the next of three rounds.

Athletes compete for individual and team points that have been continually totaled throughout the Series, and team point winners have earned the right to wear the coveted black Paul Mitchell Leaders Jersey and the right to carry the Jeep King of the Mountain title to the next race. Double points will be awarded at the Aspen Mountain race.

Currently, Team France's snowboarders and Team Sweden's skiers will don the jerseys at the Aspen races. Individual leaders going into the Finals are current World Cup leader for PGS, Mathieu Bozzetto of France, for men's snowboarding by a mere five points, and his teammate Karine Ruby for women's snowboarding. On the ski side, Germany's Katharina Gutensohn leads women's skiing over USA's Megan Gerety, and open qualifier Zach Crist leads men's skiing by only 10 points over France's Romuald Licinio.

Over $150,000 in prize money will be up for grabs at Aspen Mountain. The coveted Jeep King of the Mountain title will be awarded to the overall individual male and female skiers and snowboarders, and overall team champions for in each sport. Individual male champions will be awarded Jeep Liberties, and overall team champions will receive Infinity Stereo systems and $10,000 from John Paul Mitchell Systems. The Black Paul Mitchell Leaders Jersey will be awarded to overall team champions. The awards ceremony will be held immediately following the final race, and will feature fireworks and VH1's new Artist to Watch, Franky Perez, in concert.

24 of the world's most elite ski and snowboard racers will compete head-to-head for all the marbles, including Olympic and World Champions Tommy Moe and Chris Klug, Bozzetto of France, 1997 Jeep King of the Mountain individual champion Martin Fiala of Germany, and Sweden's Richard Richardsson, 2002 Olympic Silver Medalist. Women who will be jjoining the Series in Aspen include Olympic medalists Karine Ruby of France, Lidia Trettel of Italy, and US Olympic Team Member Rosey Fletcher.

Jeep King of the Mountain Open Qualifiers
Jeep invited top notch amateur and professional ski and snowboard racers to participate in open qualifying races at each of the JKOM professional events. Racers battle for a spot in the professional race on the "Y style race course, and any team that qualifies to race against the pros is entitled to win any prize money allocated for that race.

The Open Qualifier at Aspen Mountain will be held Friday, February 21, with the JKOM pro races on Saturday. Those interested should register on Thursday, February 20 between 1:00 pm and 6:00 pm at the Hotel Jerome.

Well-known Skiercross racer Zach Crist has qualified for each pro race, and currently leads men's skiing for the individual title. Crist has partnered with US Snowboard team member Pete Thorndike at the last two Jeep King of the Mountain events, and Thorndike currently stands in fourth place.

Jeep King Of the Mountain Challenge
Spectators and snowsport fans alike were also invited to participate in the Jeep King of the Mountain Series' 10th Anniversary Season. Since late December ski resorts across the United States have held Challenge races open to any and all members of the community. The race format is similar to that used in the JKOM professional races, and winners advanced to one of six regional races. Regional races have already been held at Sugar Bowl, CA and Snowshoe River, WV, and are scheduled to be held at Crystal Mountain, MI: Killington, VT; Waterville Valley, NH; and Loveland, CO in February. Winners at each of these regional events will win a trip to Aspen, Colorado for the Jeep King of the Mountain Series' World Professional Ski and Snowboard Championship finals.

For more information about the Jeep King of the Mountain Series, visit www.jeepskiing.com or www.jeepsnowboarding.com. For more information about the Jeep King of the Mountain Challenge, visit our website or call (802) 226-8092.

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