NEW YORK (AP) – With his untamed raspberry-toned hair and wild personality – not to mention the cool job as drummer in a band -Animal the muppet fits right in with the newest, hippest Olympicsport.

The frenetic character was introduced Tuesday as the mascot forthe U.S. Snowboard Team. The sport makes its Olympic debut at theWinter Games in Nagano, Japan, next February.

Jim Henson Productions, creator of the popular Muppets troupe that includes Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy, said it was the firsttime a Muppet has been designated as an official mascot for a team.

“Snowboarding is an individual sport and Animal’s definitely the most individual of the Muppets,” said halfpipe specialist RobKingwill of Jackson, Wyo., a World Championships bronze medalist.

“I’m really stoked about being teamed with him.”