Aspen, CO - It was a wild day in Aspen at the Jeep King of the Mountain Series' World Professional Ski and Snowboard Championship Finals held at Aspen Mountain. For this fourth and final race in the Series, hometown heroes Chris Klug and Casey Puckett snagged the title for the day, each taking first place in the Men's Snowboard and Men's Ski races. For the women, Canada's last minute stand-in Julie Langevin took first in Women's Skiing and France's Karine Ruby won the Women's Snowboarding race. Team champions of the day included Open Qualifiers Puckett and teammate Anda Smalls for skiing and Team France for snowboarding.
Team USA, which consists of Olympic Gold and Silver Medalist Tommy Moe and teammate Megan Gerety, took the coveted Jeep King of the Mountain Title Overall Team Skiing, the second consecutive team title for Moe. With Ruby's win today, Team France was kept alive and won the overall Team Snowboarding competition. Sweden's Richard Richardsson will take home a Jeep Liberty and the Jeep King of the Mountain Title in snowboarding for the Series, winning with 220 points - only 5 over second place Klug. Although he took second in today's race to Puckett, Romuald Licinio of France will take home the overall title for skiing.
The Series' unique new "Y" race course, designed to combine the technical skill of Parallel Giant Slalom with the cutting edge drama of Speedcross , proved its worth in providing excitement for both athletes and spectators. Weather was definitely a factor in the day's races as warm temperatures and intermittent snow kept racers on their toes throughout the day. In the seeding runs, Italy's Walter Feichter and Barbara Merlin both crashed in the seeding runs, and 1993 European Cup Champion Martin Fiala of Germany also broke both skis upon landing after a crash on the final jump. Team USA's Rosey Fletcher slightly tore her MCL after hitting a hard landing on the final jump, but will recover within a month to compete in the U.S. Grand Prix finals in April. Germany's Katharina Gutensohn and Ophelie David of France each lost a ski after the double rollers in the bottom half of the course, causing them to call it a day. Swedish skier Anders Wiggerud crashed on the first run of the semi-finals, bruising his lower back. He will recover over the next month as well.
The closest finish of the day went with the standoff between Richardsson and Klug for first place. Richardsson won the first run by only .01 seconds, but was disqualified on the second run after falling just before the finish line.
Jeep King of the Mountain Series celebrates its 10th Anniversary Season in 2002-03. For more information, please visit www.jeepsnowboarding.com or www.jeepskiing.com. Jeep is the title sponsor for the 10th Anniversary Season of the Jeep King of the Mountain Series. Other partners include Mopar, Infinity, Charles Schwab, John Paul Mitchell Systems, Columbia Sportwear Company, AT&T Wireless, Ski Press Magazine, American Airlines, Boeri, and Atomic.