If it seems like the X Games are all about testosterone driven events, that may be changing. With riders like Ashley Fiolek, Jessica Patterson and Elizabeth Bash taking to the moto track, women are proving they belong at the big action sports events.
Women’s moto X was introduced at X Games 14 in 2008. The women’s version of the sport may not yet enjoy much time in the limelight but this year’s X Games final was as dramatic as any race at the event.
Winner Ashley Fiolek crossed the finish line without hearing the roar of her bike or the applause directed at her. That’s because the 18-year old Florida native is the first deaf medalist in X Games history.
Fiolek, who began racing when she was only seven years old, quickly learned how to ride without being able to hear. She shifts and manuevers her bike with her sense of feel, gaining a “no fear” reputation as the fastest female rider on the circuit. Because of an injury, Fiolek couldn’t participate in last year’s X Games debut.
The Women’s Super Moto X competition included 10 of the top women motocross racers in the world competing for the gold medal. The riders competed in one heat of six laps (less than half the length of the guys race) on a slick and technical course under a late afternoon sun.
For the uninitiated, Super X features “Supercross-style” racing, with a purpose-built all-dirt course with large jumps, rollers and whoops sections challenging riders’ handling and racing skills.
Fiolek’s primary rival, five time WMA champion Jessica Patterson, took the lead early and remained in that spot until the fifth lap. Fiolek was close behind the entire time, ultimately making her move on a masterful pass entering the final lap.
As Fiolek pulled away to win the gold medal, Patterson earned the silver, and Elizabeth Bash (who as an alternate didn’t even get to compete last year) won the bronze.
On the heels of her recent ESPY nomination for Best Female Action Sports Athlete, Fiolek maintained her seasonal roll with the dramatic last minute win.
At the press conference after the event, the riders were asked how they felt about women being included at the event.
“Getting added to X is huge for our sport and it’s just going to keep getting bigger and bigger, and more people will know we can ride motorcycles,” Fiolek said via sign language through her father.
“I noticed there were a lot of people here — even deaf fans — and they wanted to meet us, so I think they accept us.”
Silver medalist Jessica Patterson agreed that competing in the X Games really helps the sport’s future and that Women’s Moto X is getting more publicity and becoming more widely accepted.
Despite finishing short of her gold medal goal, Patterson was able to take pride in recognizing how she and her fellow riders were raising the profile of Women’s Moto X.
“They are starting to see that we can do everything now. We’re getting a little bit more exposure each time. They’re surprised really that we go out there and try to do the same events as the men. They’re pretty pumped on what we do,” Patterson said.
Bash, obviously thrilled to be on the podium with her bronze medal, also felt honored to be part of history.
“I’ve signed a lot of autographs today, which is pretty cool. I think [being in the X Games] is good for the sport and I bet in a few more years it’ll be even better,” she said.
With riders like the three X games medalists competing, no doubt the sport will continue to attract more attention. Congrats to the winners and all the participants.
Results from ESPN X Games 15 Moto X Super X Women’s Final at The Home Depot Center on Aug 1, 2009
Name Hometown Finish
Ashley Fiolek Saint Augustine, FL 372.47
Jessica Patterson Tallahassee, FL 375.82
Elizabeth Bash Riverside, CA 397.32
Sherri Cruse Bakersfield, CA 398.58
Jacqueline Strong Sedona, AZ 419.01
Tarah Geiger Aguadilla, PRI 428.20
Sayaka Kaneshiro Torrance, CA 431.21
Penni Cyrus Queen Creek, AZ 441.08
April Zastrow Kuna, ID 632.36
Tatum Sik Temecula, CA 972.93