SOURCE: PINKBIKE/AL SOMMERS/JEEPSPORTS.COM
Challengers change but results are the same as Jill Kintner and Michal Prokop capture titles at first race of Jeep King of the Mountain 2007 Mountain biking World Professional Championships in Utah.
Red Hot Jared Graves & Melissa Buhl Push Champions to Limit Before
Finishing in Second and Gaining Valuable Points Toward Overall Season Title
Despite a ridiculously deep line-up of the whoâ€™s who in mountain bike racing vying for the most prized crown in the sport, two of cyclingâ€™s most dynamic young standouts, Michal Prokop and Jill Kintner, refused to give an inch in their continued dominance at the first race of the JeepÂ® King of the Mountain 2007 Mountain Biking World Professional Championships, held August 4 at The Canyons in Park City, Utah.
Prokop, of the Czech Republic, and Kintner, of Seattle, Wash., each hold back-to-back World Professional Champion honors, and have a chance to claim the throne for a an unprecedented third consecutive season. The pair faced a host of challenges at The Canyons, including a field of contenders with National Championships, World Championships and World Cup Championships under their belts, as well as warm weather and one of the fastest Y-Cross racecourse layouts in event history. But a chance to earn a lionâ€™s share of the record $100,000 prize purse, as well as a 2008 Jeep Liberty and bragging rights for another year proved to be incentive enough to overcome such obstacles.
In the womenâ€™s competition, Kintner, with two World Cup wins, a NORBA title and an Australian National Championship in hand, came out of the gates on fire. In the first two rounds, both sweeps, she topped South African Joanna Petterson of Kauai, Hawaii, the 2006 NORBA Four-Cross Champion, and Denmarkâ€™s Anneke Beerten, a two-time World Cup titlist in 2007 and one of her fiercest rivals, to reach the finals. Melissa Buhl of Chandler, Ariz., the recently crowned U.S. National Champion and former NORBA Champion, was putting on her own display, with a two-race victory over open qualifier Gale Dahlager of Park City before a difficult semifinal match-up against Tara Llanes, of Los Alamitos, Calif. Llanes, the 2006 USA Cycling Downhill National Champion and two-time National Four-Cross Champion, captured the first race in stunning form before suffering a particularly bad fall into the rocks lining the racecourse in the second heat. Buhl advanced to the Championship Heat, but was no match for Kintner, who claimed the title. Beerten held on for third place in the Consolation Heat despite a heroic performance by the injured Llanes, which was noted by an ovation from the crowd in attendance.
â€œToday was a lot of fun, with the fast speed of the course and the competition on hand,â€ said Kintner. â€œIt was tough out here in the heat, but I was able to get the burst of energy when I needed it, especially when going up against someone like Melissa Buhl. You can never let up against her, and she always pushes you to give it your all. I was happy to get the win.â€
The Jeep King of the Mountain Series will now head to the Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo, Calif., on Saturday, August 18, before hosting the seasonâ€™s grand finale on Saturday, September 1 at Beaver Creek Resort in Beaver Creek, Colo.
Each race of the 2007 Mountain Biking World Professional Championships will be televised to a national broadcast audience on CBS Sports, representing the most expansive coverage of professional mountain bike racing in recent history. The race from The Canyons in Park City will air on CBS Sports on Saturday, August 18, from 5:00 p.m. â€“ 6:00 p.m. EST (check local listings).
About the Jeep King of the Mountain Series:
The Jeep King of the Mountain was established in 1993. Jeep is the title sponsor for the Jeep King of the Mountain Series. The Mountain Biking World Professional Championships are the sister competition to wintertimeâ€™s Skiing & Snowboarding World Professional Championships, now celebrating its 15th season. Other marketing partners for the Jeep King of the Mountain include Bike Magazine, Columbia Sportswear Company, Edge Advanced Shave Gel, John Paul Mitchell Systems, Madonna Inn, Mopar, Nalgene, San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce, San Luis Obispo County Visitors Bureau, Utah Sports Commission and Voler. During each race of the World Professional Championships, the athletes will be competing for the right to don the coveted John Paul Mitchell Systems black leaderâ€™s jersey, while also accruing points toward a cash bonus at seasonâ€™s end.
August 4 Race Results â€“ Race I at The Canyons in Park City, Utah
1. Jill Kintner â€“ Seattle, Wash.
2. Melissa Buhl â€“ Chandler, Ariz.
3. Anneke Beerten â€“ Denmark
4. Tara Llanes â€“ Los Alamitos, Calif.
5. Fionn Griffiths â€“ UK
6. Leana Gerrard â€“ Bellingham, Wash.
7. Gale Dahlager â€“ Park City, Utah
8. Joanna Petterson â€“ Kauai, Hawaii
1. Michal Prokop â€“ Czech Republic
2. Jared Graves â€“ Australia
3. Eric Carter â€“ Temecula, Calif.
4. Cody Warren â€“ Alpine, Calif.
5. Rich Houseman â€“ Temecula, Calif.
6. Brian Lopes â€“ Laguna Beach, Calif.
7. Wade Bootes â€“ Australia
8. Chris Van Dine â€“ Park City, Utah