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Jeep King of the Mountain #3 - NE
Beaver Creek, Colo., USA, September 3, 2006
Lopes and Miller take Jeep KOM finale
Prokop and Miller secure the series titles
Given the outcome of the first two legs of the Jeep® King of the Mountain (www.jeepsports.com) 2006 Mountain Biking World Professional Championships, where Michal Prokop of the Czech Republic and Jill Kintner of Seattle, Wash., captured the men's and women's titles in convincing fashion, it would take a brilliant day of racing by the star-studded field of competitors at the grand finale in Beaver Creek, Colo., to prevent a season sweep by these phenoms in their mid 20's.
Several thousand spectators took advantage of the pristine fall weather conditions and extended Labor Day holiday weekend to take in the world-class racing, which coincided with the city's renowned Oktoberfest celebration. They didn't leave disappointed, as the day was filled with a wealth of tight passes, unnerving crashes, extreme air and down to the wire finishes that resulted in numerous upsets in the men's and women's brackets.
At the end of the day, 17-year veteran Brian Lopes of San Clemente, Calif., brought home the men's individual event title following an outstanding head-to-head victory over Prokop, the defending Jeep King of the Mountain World Professional Champion, in the day's final Championship Heat. On the women's side, 31-year-old Katrina Miller of Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia, fought neck and neck with Kintner in the Championship Heat before watching the defending Jeep King of the Mountain World Professional Champion suffer a horrific spill after a 30-foot jump that left her unable to complete the final runs of the day. As a result, Miller walked away with the individual event title.
Brian Lopes and Katrina Miller Capture Individual Event Titles at Jeep King of the Mountain 2006 Mountain Biking World Professional Championships in Beaver Creek, Colo., Despite having their two-race streaks snapped, Prokop and Kintner kept their crowns and were named Jeep King of the Mountain 2006 World Professional Champions based on points earned for their second place finishes in Beaver Creek and first place finishes earlier in the season at San Luis Obispo, Calif., and Elkhart Lake, Wis. The pair will leave Beaver Creek with the keys to a new 2007 Jeep Compass, as well as a healthy share of the record $100,000 case purse for the series.
Lopes, a three-time World Champion, five-time World Cup Champion and nine-time National Champion, began the day with a tough first round match-up against Brian Schmith of Lancaster, Calif., a NORBA Nationals and World Cup medalist. After earning a disqualification in the first heat after passing over a gate, Lopes was relentless in the second heat as he made up the time penalty and nipped Schmith by four tenths of a second to move into the semifinals. There, he defeated Eric Carter of Temecula, Calif., the 2005 and 2006 USA Cycling Mountain-Cross National Champion, to earn a spot in the finals against long-time nemesis, Prokop. The Czech Republic star had an equally unsettling start to the competition during a first round match-up against former World Champion Mike King of San Diego. In both heats, Prokop had to come from behind to defeat King and eventually move into the semifinals, where he took out local favorite Chris Del Bosco of Vail, Colo., winner of the 2006 Blast at the Mass in Snowmass, Colo. In the Championship Heat, Lopes showed masterful form in hitting the turns and managing his speed, out-dueling Prokop in two straight races to earn the Jeep King of the Mountain title. Carter outlasted Del Bosco in the Consolation Heat to capture third place at Beaver Creek.
"Today was wonderful, with a great crowd, great weather and a solid line-up of racers," said Lopes. "I couldn't be happier with how I ended my season."
In the women's competition, Miller began her day with a victory over Bobbi Kae Watt of Broomfield, Colo., a former Sea Otter Classic Champion and Mountain States Classic titlist, before moving into the semifinals against Corona, Calif.'s Tara Llanes, the 2006 USA Cycling Downhill National Champion. After losing the first heat to Llanes, Miller stormed back to defeat her good friend and rival to move into the finals. In the other half of the bracket, Kintner defeated Jessica Vogt of Boulder, Colo., the 2005 Downhill and Mountain Cross Collegiate National Champion, handily to move into the semifinals against Anneke Beerten of The Netherlands, the 2006 Sea Otter Classic runner-up and JKOM event titlists in 2005. Kintner topped Beerten in two straight races to move into the Championship Heat. In the first race of the finals, Kintner moved out to a considerable lead against Miller before attempting to clear one of the largest jumps of the racecourse. Her front tire landed clean, but the back tire caught the lip and she flew awkwardly over the handlebars. Kintner was able to walk off the course unassisted, but could not participate in the second heat. Miller earned the Jeep King of the Mountain title, with Kintner finishing second and Llanes capturing third after a win over Beerten in the Consolation Heat.
Brian Lopes and Katrina Miller Capture Individual Event Titles at Jeep King of the Mountain 2006 Mountain Biking World Professional Championships in Beaver Creek, Colo., "I had nothing to lose our there, and I knew Katrina was going to go for it, so I wanted to go strong at the end," said Kintner. "Even though I crashed, it was a great milestone for me. It's the biggest jump I have ever made, and I not sure what happened, but I'm stoked to win the Jeep."
Each race of the 2006 Mountain Biking World Professional Championships is televised to a national U.S. broadcast audience on CBS Sports, representing the most expansive coverage of professional mountain bike racing in recent history. The race from Beaver Creek will air on CBS Sports on Oct. 8 from 5:00-6:00 p.m. EST.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by courtesy of Jeep KOM
Men 1 Brian Lopes, San Clemente, Calif. 2 Michal Prokop, Czech Republic 3 Eric Carter, Temecula, Calif. 4 Chris Del Bosco, Vail, Colo. 5 Jared Rando, Australia 6 Roger Rinderknecht, Switzerland 7 Mike King, San Diego, Calif. 8 Brian Schmith, Lancaster, Calif. Women 1 Katrina Miller, Australia 2 Jill Kintner, Seattle, Wash. 3 Tara Llanes, Corona, Calif. 4 Anneke Beerten, The Netherlands 5 Fionn Griffiths, Great Britain 6 Melissa Buhl, Chandler, Ariz. 7 Bobbi Kae Watt, Broomfield, Colo. 8 Jessica Vogt, Boulder, Colo. Series classification final standings Men 1 Michal Prokop, Czech Republic 2 Brian Lopes, San Clemente, Calif. 3 Eric Carter, Temecula, Calif. Women 1 Jill Kintner, Seattle, Wash. 2 Katrina Miller, Australia 3 Tara Llanes, Corona, Calif.