The first qualifying round of the Newcastle Qashqai Urban Challenge went down today, despite the overcast skies threatening the riders from riding their first runs.

Riders spent the morning riding through the course and testing out the ramps in preparation for the qualifying round. The pros were able to hit the big drop after the start of the course, testing their speed and the best way to land the drop. From the sidelines, you could see the riders planning their runs from top to bottom.

The first qualifying round was particularly good for the local English heros, Lance McDermott, Gee Atherton, Grant Fielder and Dan Atherton. They qualified first, third, fourth and fifth, respectively.

Most riders were throwing down tricks on the starting drop, like fourth place qualifier Grant Fielder with a tailwhip, and Ben Boyko with a super extended no-foot can. The first place qualifier, Lance McDermott, saw no need to trick the first drop, but he flipped the first big step-up jump - a jump that most riders were only able to x-up or tabletop!

Andreu Lacondeguy, the second place qualifier, was the only other rider to throw a big trick on the first step-up. He was able to bring his trademark-style Superman (clapping his feet together in the air) on the step-up. Combined with a tuck no-hander flip on the last jump and plenty of style in between, he had no problem wrapping up the second place qualification.

Top Ten Qualifiers - Round 1

1. Lance McDermott

2. Andreu Lacondeguy

3. Gee Atherton

4. Grant Fielder

5. Dan Atherton

6. Phil Sundbaum

7. Amir Kabbani

8. Trond Hansen

9. Sam Pilgrim

10.Brandon Semenuk

After the qualification round, the riders were invited to compete in a best trick contest on the last jump of the course. Phil Sundbaum, Greg Watts, Andreu Lacondeguy, Lance McDermott and Sam Pilgrim all joined the contest, which offered them three chances to bring their best tricks to the last jump.

Phil Sundbaum was the first rider in the best trick contest, and he started it off right—with a huge 720, landing perfectly in front of a screaming crowd. Phil was congratulated by tons of screaming fans at the end of the course, and everyone knew that the bar had been set very high for the contest.

The rest of the best trick contest riders landed all of their tricks impressively: Lance McDermott with a flip-whip; Andreu Lacondeguy stuck a superman flip; Greg Watts landed a double barspin flip; and Sam Pilgrim came through with a one-foot x-up flip.

None of the riders were able to top Phil Sundbaum’s 720 though. In addition to Phil’s first run 720, he landed a 360-tailwhip on the second run and a stretched out superman on the third. Consistancy and big tricks were more than enough to impress the judges and give him the win.

The story of Phil’s win goes so much deeper than landing a 720 in a contest. Phil put his entire life on hold and quit his job to come to Europe (for his first time!) for a shot to compete against the world’s best. Phil was only able to stay for a few weeks as a result of this, but now with the best trick win and an extra 1500 euros in his pocket, it looks like Europe is going to be seeing a lot more of Phil Sundbaum.

Tomorrow morning brings up the second round of qualifying where some of today’s absent riders will be able to get a shot to enter into the finals. The top twelve riders from the qualifying rounds will go off in the finals tomorrow afternoon, for a top prize of 8,000 euros to the winner.

Visit the new Qashqai Urban Challenge website (www.nissan-qashqaichallenge.com ) with information about each city, the events, rider bios about the invited tour riders and also the listings of the specialist riders for each discipline.

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Saladini leads. World Cup 4X, Maribor, Slovenia

Riders spent the morning riding through the course and testing out the ramps in preparation for the qualifying round. The pros were able to hit the big drop after the start of the course, testing their speed and the best way to land the drop. From the sidelines, you could see the riders planning their runs from top to bottom.