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Czech rider Libor Podmol won the second round of the FIM Freestyle MX World Championships in Berlin, Germany on Friday night, throwing out a new trick -- part 360, part barrell roll -- to beat out French riders David Rinaldo and Remi Bizouard, the defending FIM champion. On Saturday, it was Rinaldo's turn on top, besting Bizouard and Podmol in round three to claim his first-ever FIM win on the Night of the Jumps World Tour.
"I'm super happy and I'm also super stoked for David because he's my teammate," Podmol told XGames.com after Saturday's final. "We both made the podium both nights and we both got a win, so everybody's happy."
Bizouard now holds a slight lead over Podmol and Rinaldo in the overall rankings, thanks to a win at the FIM series opener last month in Kaunas, Lithuania, but just six points now separate the top three riders.
All of the excitement around the podium shuffle notwithstanding, all of the riders -- and the sold-out crowd at the O2 World Arena this weekend -- seemed to agree that the true highlight was the arrival of Australian rider Emma McFerran on the scene as an exhibition rider. McFerran, billed as the "First Lady of Australian FMX," is the first female rider to perform backflips as part of the Night of the Jumps World Tour.
"She's a very beautiful girl, so we were all tripping over ourselves a little bit and felt a bit nervous watching," Podmol admitted. "She had some hard times to make the rotation around at first, so it was a little scary for all of us, but she landed all of them. We were stoked and the crowd was stoked ... maybe even more stoked for her than they were for us!"
McFerran has been training in Australia with her mentor, X Games gold medalist Jackson "Jacko" Strong, and recently signed on with the Berlinièros Sports Agency, promoters of the FIM series and the Night of the Jumps World Tour.
"It was amazing to be able to travel to the other side of the world to do my backflips," McFerran told XGames.com on Saturday. "I felt a bit like the black sheep coming here and I was pretty nervous, but once everybody started cheering me on it made me feel a heap better. Now I just need to go work on my style and try to learn some new tricks."
McFerran says she dreams of one day lining up against the guys in a proper qualification round, but concedes she still has some work to do.
"I know I'm a long way off from that," she said. "The guys here are riding awesome: it was my first time meeting all these guys and the level of riding here was just amazing. I congratulate all of them, and hope to someday reach that same level."
In the meantime McFerran says she's hoping to perform as an exhibition rider at as many of the upcoming FIM events as possible.
"It was cool because we've always been too much of a boys club and this was the first time many of us ever rode with a girl," Rinaldo said after Saturday's podium presentation. "I love seeing a girl come into our sport and prove that she can make all sorts of cool tricks. But mostly I'm just really happy today because it's my first win for the World Championships, and it feels pretty cool to stand on top of the podium."
The next round of the FIM Freestyle MX World Championships series will be held on March 23 in Gdansk, Poland.
|1||Libor Podmol (CZE)||395|
|2||David Rinaldo (FRA)||394|
|3||Remi Bizouard (FRA)||393|
|4||Petr Pilat (CZE)||351|
|5||Jose Miralles (ESP)||341|
|1||David Rinaldo (FRA)||392|
|2||Remi Bizouard (FRA)||387|
|3||Libor Podmol (CZE)||385|
|4||Petr Pilat (CZE)||374|
|5||Brice Izzo (FRA)||360|