The fourth stop of the 2008 AST Dew Tour kicked off yesterday in Salt Lake City, and we’re actually witnessing a neck-and-neck race. Paul Rodriguez, Ryan Sheckler, and lil’ Chaz Ortiz all have legitimate shots at the overall crown, so you best tune in. We’ll have photos and videos up with the quickness. Keep on reading for the Toyota Challenge press release…

It’s Make or Break Time for Dew Cups at This Week’s Toyota Challenge

NEW YORK – Sept. 10, 2008 – The race for the coveted Dew Cups heats up at this weekend’s AST Dew Tour’s Toyota Challenge.With only two events left to climb to the top of the point standings, the world’s top action sports athletes need to bring out their best performances at Salt Lake City’s EnergySolutions Arena to stay in the hunt for action sport’s only season-long championship.

The 2008 season has brought some of the tightest races in Dew Tour history.Here’s how the chase for the Dew Cups break down in the six disciplines:

Skateboard Park:

MTV reality TV star and fan favorite Ryan Sheckler is in an unfamiliar position coming into Salt Lake’s Toyota Challenge: looking up in the skateboard park points standings.The three-time defending Dew Cup champ currently sits 17 points behind leader and fellow Southern California native Paul Rodriguez.The skaters’ performances this weekend could either make or break their season, and unlike Sheckler’s clinching victory at the tour’s fourth stop in ’07, the Dew Cup winner in Skateboard Park will be decided at the Tour’s final stop, Orlando’s PlayStation Pro, for the first time in AST history.

Skateboard Vert:

Vert legends Bucky Lasek and Bob Burnquist are separated by just 15 points in the standings and hold the top two spots, but the race for the Cup is far from over.Pierre-Luc Gagnon trails Burnquist by only 22 points and perennial contender Andy Macdonald sits just 13 points behind Gagnon.Depending on who wins in Salt Lake, the hundred points awarded to the winner could shake up the points standings considerably.Burnquist will claim the top spot if he repeats from last month’s Wendy’s Invitational victory, and a slew of situations exist where Lasek will either hold onto the top spot or it could be captured by challengers.

BMX Vert:

Three-time Defending Dew Cup champion Jamie Bestwick lost his bid for a perfect season at Portland’s Wendy’s Invitational by falling to Chad Kagy.The loss added a little drama to the point standings in BMX vert, as Bestwick saw his lead quickly dwindle to just 15 points over Kagy with only two stops to go.A victory by Bestwick at the Toyota Challenge would practically secure his fourth consecutive Dew Cup, while a win by Kagy would shoot him into first place if Bestwick places below second.

BMX Dirt:

The closest race for a Dew Cup is taking place in BMX Dirt.Defending champion Ryan Nyquist will try to hold off the rest of the field in Salt Lake, but he may need a win if he wants to stay in first place.Cameron White, who finished second overall on ’07 and currently sits just eight points behind Nyquist, is hungry to climb to the top of the podium and capture his first Dew Cup.Only 14 points separate the top three competitors, so a shake up in the standings is certain to take place Friday night under the lights.

BMX Park:

Two-time defending Dew Cup champ Daniel Dhers looks primed to capture his third consecutive Cup in BMX Park.After winning the first two stops in Baltimore and Cleveland, Dhers looked dominant again in Portland in earning his third victory in as many chances this season.With a 55 point lead over the closest challenger, Mike Spinner, the worst Dhers could do in Salt Lake is a 10th place finish to earn 45 points.If that happens and Spinner wins, the two would then be tied at 345 points each going into the final stop in Orlando.But the way Dhers has been riding all season long, don’t count on that happening.

FMX:

After Jam Sessions in Cleveland and Portland, the FMX race is still up for grabs with Blake “Bilko” Williams holding a narrow 10-point lead over two-time defending Dew Cup champion Nate Adams.In this new ’08 format, every run and trick counts that much more, so look for all the competitors to be reaching into their bag of tricks for an advantage this weekend.

Currently in its fourth year, the AST Dew Tour is the most watched and attended action sports property in the world.Attendance for the 2007 AST Dew Tour totaled 280,000 and an average of 41 million viewers tuned in via NBC and USA each year. The top athletes in the world will take part in this year’s Tour, all competing for the highly coveted Dew Cup that will be awarded in Orlando at season’s end to champions in each of the six disciplines. The 2007 Dew Cup winners include Nate Adams (Freestyle Motocross), Jamie Bestwick (BMX Vert), Ryan Nyquist (BMX Dirt), Daniel Dhers (BMX Park), Shaun White (Skateboard Vert) and Ryan Sheckler (Skateboard Park).

The complete 2008 AST Dew Tour schedule is as follows:

EventDateLocation

Panasonic OpenJune 19-22Baltimore, Md.—Camden Yards Sports Complex

Right Guard OpenJuly 17-20Cleveland, OH—North Coast Harbor

Wendy’s InvitationalAug. 21-24Portland, Ore.—Rose Quarter

Toyota ChallengeSept. 11-14Salt Lake City, UT—EnergySolutions Arena

PlayStation® ProOct. 16-19Orlando, Fla.—Amway Arena

AST

The Action Sports Tour (AST) is the recently created umbrella brand and organization of the world’s most prestigious action sports events. Currently the AST consists oftwo national tours, one international event and an amateur series: AST Dew Tour (debuted in 2005), AST Winter Dew Tour (debuting in 2008), AST China (debuting in 2008), and Free Flow Tour (debuted in 2005).The AST properties are home to over 280,000 spectators each year and broadcast in 100 countries and 280 million homes worldwide. The AST Dew Tour consists of five major, multi-sport events spanning across the country, with a cumulative points system, a $2.5 million competitive purse – the largest in action sports – and an additional $1 million bonus pool. Each event features skateboarding (park and vert), BMX (park, vert, and dirt) and freestyle motocross. At season’s end, the overall point’s leaders in the six disciplines are crowned year-end champions and awarded the prestigious Dew Cup. Key lifestyle elements at each Tour event include the Festival village, specialty competitions, and live cutting edge music. The AST Dew Tour partners include Mountain Dew (tour title sponsor); and Panasonic, Right Guard Xtreme, Wendy’s, Toyota and PlayStation® (event title sponsors).Associate partners include Ball Park, Mongoose®, Nike 6.0, NowWhat.com and Verizon Wireless. More information can be found at www.ast.com.

NBC Universal

NBC Universal is one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production, and marketing of entertainment, news, and information to a global audience. Formed in May 2004 through the combining of NBC and Vivendi Universal Entertainment, NBC Universal owns and operates the No. 1 television network, the fastest-growing Spanish-language network, a valuable portfolio of news and entertainment networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group, and world-renowned theme parks. NBC Universal is 80%-owned by General Electric, with 20% controlled by Vivendi Universal.

MTV Networks

MTV Networks, a unit of Viacom (NYSE: VIA, VIA.B), is one of the world’s leading creators of programming and content across all media platforms. MTV Networks, with more than 150 channels worldwide, owns and operates the following television programming services – MTV: MUSIC TELEVISION, MTV2, VH1, mtvU, NICKELODEON, NICK at NITE, LOGO, COMEDY CENTRAL, TV LAND, SPIKE TV, CMT, NOGGIN, THE N, VH1 CLASSIC, MTVN INTERNATIONAL and THE DIGITAL SUITE FROM MTV NETWORKS, a package of 13 digital services, all of these networks trademarks of MTV Networks. MTV Networks connects with its audiences through its robust consumer products businesses and its more than 300 interactive properties worldwide, including online, broadband, wireless and interactive television services and also has licensing agreements, joint ventures, and syndication deals whereby all of its programming services can be seen worldwide.