|Cyclingnews TV News Tech Features Road MTB BMX Cyclo-cross Track Photos Fitness Letters Search Forum|
MTB index page for all MTB content
Jeep King of the Mountain #1 - NE
The Canyons, Park City, Utah, USA, August 4, 2007
Defending champions Prokop and Kintner capture titles at opener
Michal Prokop of the Czech Republic, and Jill Kintner of the US, both two-time defending champions in the Jeep King of the Mountain Series, continued their winning streak by earning titles at this year's first event of the three-race series.
The competitors were battling for a share of the record US$100,000 prize purse and the keys to a new 2008 Jeep Liberty. Points will be accrued throughout the series to determine the series champion.
Despite a deep line- up with the who's who in downhill mountain bike racing vying for the most prized crown in the sport, two of cycling's dynamic standouts, Prokop and Kintner, refused to give an inch in their continued dominance at the first race held at The Canyons in Park City, Utah.
Prokop and Kintner, with two consecutive titles each, 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 vhampionships, 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.
In the men's competition, Prokop, the Czech Republic BMX and mountain bike national champion with multiple world cup podiums in 2007, began the day with a crisp sweep of Australia's Wade Bootes, the 2004 Jeep KOM series winner, 2006 Australian national champion and former world champion to reach the semifinals. There he met up with Cody Warren, a former US National Champion and multiple NMBS titlist, whom he dispatched in consecutive races to earn a spot in the championship heat.
The surprise of the day may have been Warren's effort to reach the semifinals, including a crash induced, time differential victory over American Brian Lopes. On the other side of the bracket, Australia's Jared Graves, a 2006 world cup titlist, two-time NMBS Champion and Australian national champion, was equally as dominant in the early rounds, first defeating open qualifier American Chris Van Dine, before blasting past Eric Carter, a two-time US national champion and former world champion. In the championship heat, Graves shocked Prokop with a flawless run, just crossing the finish line ahead of the defending champion. In the second race, however, Prokop displayed his brilliance and charged hard to make up the time differential and grab the title. Carter edged out Warren in the consolation heat to capture third place in the standings.
"It was a very fast course out there today, which impacted my braking and passing in each heat," said Prokop. "In the finals, I had a bad gate and just tried to follow Jared Graves as closely as possible. In the second race, I got off to a good lead and protected my lanes while riding smooth all the way to the end. This was a great start to the season for me."
In the women's competition, Kintner, with two world cup wins and an NMBS title in hand, came out of the gates on fire. In the first two rounds, both sweeps, she topped South African Joanna Petterson, the 2006 NMBS 4X champion, and Denmark's Anneke Beerten, a two-time world cup titlist in 2007 and one of her fiercest rivals, to reach the finals.
Melissa Buhl, the recently crowned US National Champion and former NMBS champion, was putting on her own display, with a two-race victory over open qualifier local Gale Dahlager before a difficult semifinal match-up against Tara Llanes. Llanes, the 2006 USA Cycling downhill national champion and two-time national 4X champion, captured the first race in stunning form before suffering a particularly bad fall into the rocks lining the race course 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.
"Today was a lot of fun, with the fast speed of the course and the competition on hand," said Kintner. "It 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."
The series heads next to the Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo, California, on Saturday, August 18, before hosting the season's grand finale on Saturday, September 1 at Beaver Creek Resort in Beaver Creek, Colo.