Aspen’s Klug wins pro race in Telluride |

Aspen’s Klug wins pro race in Telluride

Aspen resident Chris Klug came from behind to beat Frenchman Mathieu Bozzetto in the first Jeep King of the Mountain professional snowboarding race of the season on Sunday in Telluride.

Riding for Team USA with teammate Rosey Fletcher, Klug topped Bozzetto in what Jeep called the closest race in the two-year history of the King of the Mountain event.

Tight turns, high-speed passes (and crashes) and incredibly close finishes captivated the Telluride crowd as eight teams comprised of elite men and women snowboarders from around the world competed for more than $470,000 in prize money throughout the series, and the chance to walk away with a two-year lease on a Jeep Liberty.

Bozzetto and Klug’s teammates were equally successful at the podium with Team France’s Karine Ruby continuing to own the top podium. Meanwhile, Team USA’s Fletcher, of Alaska, finished second.

“It was a great race in Telluride!” Klug said in a statement on his Web site, “I love it here.”

The one-of-a-kind “Y” race course was designed especially for the Jeep KOM Series, and is the only competition that uses this unique track. Racers competed on two head-to-head courses that converged into a single smashing finish.

This year’s Y delivered even more high-speed excitement with the addition of skiercross and boardercross features, thus incorporating portions of three Olympic disciplines: parallel giant slalom, downhill, and boardercross.

“I loved this year’s Y,” said Klug. “It was exciting to have both racers negotiating the terrain together.”

Bozzetto and Ruby were the overall series winners in last year’s inaugural Jeep KOM. However, Klug won the final KOM event here in Aspen last winter, and now he starts the 2003-04 season with another victory.

“After a successful tour last year, the word is out on the King of the Mountain,” Klug said. “The circuit attracted even stiffer competition this year! I had a lot of tight races [in Telluride]. In my second run in the semifinals I tied Alex Maier, making up a .67 second difference to advance to the final against Bozzetto. It wasn’t easy, but it was a lot of fun.

“I won the coolest prize ever, a new Fender electric guitar! I can’t wait to go home to my garage and go nuts with it.”

The King of the Mountain Series travels next to its traditional East Coast venue of Killington, Vermont, on January 3. The inaugural international event will be Jan. 31 in Banff, Canada. All points earned by individual athletes and teams will be totaled after the World Championship Finals, slated for Feb. 15 in Squaw Valley, Calif.

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