Villegas, Bizouard win in Latvia
Chilean rider Javier Villegas, the defending FIM Freestyle World Champion, edged out French rider Rémi Bizouard by just one point in Saturday's Night of the Jumps World Tour showdown in Riga, Latvia, but it wasn't enough to prevent Bizouard from claiming the overall 2012 FIM Freestyle World Championships title.
Czech rider Libor Podmol -- the 2010 FIM champ -- came into Saturday's event ranked second overall and was the only rider with a chance to catch Bizouard with one event remaining in the FIM series. But Podmol finished off the podium in fourth place behind Villegas, Bizouard, and French rider David Rinaldo, leaving Bizouard with an insurmountable lead. The championship trophy will be presented at the official conclusion to the series Dec. 15 in Sofia, Bulgaria.
"I put my effort there, but the only chance for Remi not to take the championships today was if Libor passed him," Villegas said, after the competition. "It wasn't Libor's day … I'm sad: I really wanted to see a fight until the end."
Villegas, who won bronze in Freestyle Moto X -- his first X Games medal -- in Los Angeles this year, was not a strong contender for this year's FIM title after missing several events because of schedule conflicts with the Red Bull X-Fighters series. On Saturday he symbolically handed off his title to Bizouard and implied he'll be making a stronger effort to get it back when the 2013 series commences in January in Linz, Austria. "Here you go, here's my crown," he said to Bizouard. "Next year!"
"It's a nice feeling," Bizouard said after the news sunk in that he'll be adding a third FIM championship trophy to his shelf [he also won the title in 2008 and 2009]. "It was definitely a good year and I'm very happy about that. I've got the title again and it's really cool for me."
Rinaldo rounded out Saturday's podium in third place, and heads toward the 2012 FIM series conclusion ranked third overall, behind Bizouard and Podmol.
"I'm very happy because today the rider's list was very hard core, high level," Rinaldo said in a podium interview after Saturday's finals. "I'm on podium, I'm happy. I'm very happy."
Villegas has confirmed he will be competing in Bulgaria, where he will continue to be a podium threat, but is currently ranked eighth overall as the series heads to its conclusion.