Mountain bike racing’s new guard, Michael Prokop of the Czech Republic and Jill Kintner of Seattle, Wash., placed an exclamation point on their amazing racing seasons by earning the title of World Professional Champion at today’s grand finale of the [L=http://www.jeepsports.com]Jeep® King of the Mountain 2005 Professional Mountain Biking World Championships[/L] in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania.The pair, who have sat at or near the top of the world rankings all year, maintained top form throughout the entire series, each winning two of the three competitions and never finishing lower than third. At Jack Frost Mountain, Prokop, 24, and Kintner, 23, dispensed of their top challengers efficiently and emphatically, including respective wins over the men’s and women’s 2004 Jeep King of the Mountain World Professional Champions. For their efforts, the young phenoms earned a share of the richest cash purse in the industry and the keys to a new 2006 Jeep Commander.
Facing unseasonably warm temperatures in the 90s, 16 of the world’s best racers put on quite a display of clean passes and colorful crashes as they battled one another and an innovative racecourse known as The Y before a crowd of over 5,000 cycling enthusiasts and Camp Jeep® attendees from across the U.S.. The race from Jack Frost Mountain will air on CBS Sports on October 9, 2005.
Top seeded Prokop’s path to the title did not appear easy on paper. Due to a crash by Brian Lopes in Saturday’s qualifier that pushed him to the eighth seed, the top two racers in the men’s standings faced off in the first race of the day. Prokop, mountain bike racing’s 2004 World Champion, held off Lopes, who stands as the sport’s career victories leader, before taking
down San Diego’s Mike King to reach the finals. Once in the Championship Heat, Prokop turned up the heat and dismissed defending Jeep King of the Mountain Champion, Wade Bootes of Australia. Bootes reached the finals by defeating fellow Australian and Open Qualifier Jared Rando and Bas deBever of the Netherlands, a two-time World Cup titlist and medalist in the World Championships. In the Consolation Heat, King, a former World Champion who has amassed 67 career top-three finishes, earned third by defeating deBever.
Kintner was equally as impressive in her pursuit of the World Professional Championship. The winner of 70 career BMX titles before taking up mountain bike racing, where she earned the 2004 NORBA Championship, took down Leana Gerrard of Durango, Colo., in the first round before facing Australian Katrina Miller, the defending Jeep King of the Mountain World Champion, to reach the finals. Once there, she fended off a spirited challenge from Melissa Buhl of Chandler, Ariz. Buhl, who enjoyed her finest finish of the season, reached the Championship Heat by defeating England’s Fionn Griffiths, the 2003 NORBA Champion and higher seeded Tara Llanes of Los Alamitos, Calif., a four-time Winter X Games medalist and 2003 U.S. Mountain X Champion. In the Consolation Heat, Llanes pedaled past Miller to grab third place honors.
The 2005 Professional Mountain Biking World Championships are staged on a “Y” course exclusive to the Jeep King of the Mountain Series. The racecourse combines the two most dramatic and popular forms of mountain bike racing into one unique discipline. Competitors begin the race on a dual slalom courses (the prongs of the Y) before converging midway to a single course (the bottom of the Y). In the bottom section, racers must navigate a series of banked turns, tabletops, step-down jumps and rollers before the track climaxes with an all-out sprint to the finish. The “Y” has been described as the ultimate format for mountain bike racing, as the overall winners must have a diverse set of skills to win the coveted Jeep King of the Mountain title, symbolic of the World Professional Champion.