The start of the Women%uFFFDs Moto X Super X at the X Games 16, July 29, 2010, as they head down into the L.A. Memorial Coliseum.

Story and Photos by Kathleen Gasperini

The reaction from the packed stadium from watching the high level of skill, speed, and freestyle tricks taking place on the Women Moto X Super X finals on July 29 during the X Games 16 at the LA Memorial Coliseum proved just how viable women’s Motocross events are, not only in the X Games, but for sponsors and fans in general. Last year’s gold medalist, Ashley Fiolek led the field again to a win, but not without fierce competition from favored competitor Jessica Patterson, who took home bronze last year in the event%uFFFDs 2nd time at X Games. Unfortunately, Jessica (or “JP” as all of the girls call her), went down on the second triple, and finished in 10th, which was a sad moment considering that JP had been training incredibly hard all year and lost 20 pounds as part of her new excercise regime.

Tarah Gieger came in second for the silver and as she put it at the press conference, “I just feel more confident and now that I’ve done all three X Games [women’s Super Moto X being one of the newest events added], I’ve got more experience.” She also pointed out, as did bronze medalist Sara Price, that other great differences for the women in motocross at X Games in general is that they are no longer on outdoor bikes, but now have stepped up to Supercross bikes with full suspension which has allowed the sport to progress even more rapidly among women.

Two-time gold medalist Ashley Fiolek getting big air over the triple at the Moto X Super X finals.

According to our data at Label Networks, especially over the last 5 years, when asked “What sports do you most want to learn?” a larger percentage each year of 13-25-year-old women from our North American Youth Culture Studies continue to say “motocross.” As of our Summer Youth Culture Study, released last month in July, 2010, motocross ranked 5th as the top sport young women most want to learn, beating out BMX, and all traditional sports, indicating the growing marketing and sponsorship opportunities of reaching young women through this sport.

In its 3rd year at X Games, Women’s Moto X Super X continued to gather even more attention as one of the most exciting events to watch. On a dusty course that was half shaded due to the timing of the event towards the end of the day, it wasn’t an easy race by any means. As Ashley pointed out by signing to her father who interpreted her thoughts after winning the race, “It was a struggle with the sun and dust in your eyes, especially on the second triple on the course. If you didn’t triple it, you would get passed. I think the combination of these things probably caused JP to go down.”

The course included several jumps that required sheer nerve to clear, say nothing about the tight turns and other obstacles. But without any hesitation, the women raced fast and pulled freestyle moves off several jumps along the course, instigating discussion about if there should be a Women’s Freestyle Moto X event in the future.

For bronze medalist Sara Price, she didn’t even know she was in 3rd at the end and when she came through the finish, her mechanic asked why she wasn’t excited. “I am surprised and excited to finish in the top three,” Price said. “I didn%uFFFDt realize that I had medaled until my mechanic told me.”

Women going for it at the Moto X Super X at X Games 16.

Having women’s motocross in the X Games has helped raise the profile of the sport and it’s potential to young women worldwide, especially as people are now seeing the incredible skills that these women have -including mixing it up with freestyle moves and massive big airs as many opted to jump the finish line or twist it up with tailwhips on various sections of the course.

Women’s motocross, like men’s motocross and many other motor sports, often involves many sponsors, with logos worn brazenly in colorful uniforms. So for example while skaters may have several sponsors, you don’t always know who they are other than perhaps the logo on their T-shirt or their shoes. In motocross, the fashion is the colorful sponsors’ logos, names, and patterns within the uniform, helmet, gloves, and boots of the riders. For women’s motocross, the influences are neon, blue, pink, and purple and edgier graphics. Rockstar Energy drinks “star” has captured a lot of attention, as has Monster Energy drinks’ 3-pronged electric green stripe, and of course the red and yellow of Red Bull, Ashley Fiolek’s sponsor.

Gold medalist and media darling, Ashley Fiolek at the press conference after her big win. Note all of her sponsors.

Ashley Fiolek is now the dominate force to be reckoned with in women’s motocross on the AMA/WMA circuit and of course in the X Games. In 2009 she won the WMA Championship. However she is also deaf and relies on looking at shadows of other riders and the vibrations of her bike to stay ahead of her competition. She was also the first female rider featured on a major U.S. motocross magazine (Transworld Motocross, December 2008) and the very first female to receive full factory support from Red Bull Honda.

In another nod to punk and nu rave style within the sport, Ashley’s hair was partially dyed in a deep pink, giving her a unique look when she took of her helmet and goggles and you could see her beautiful blue eyes. This time sparkling with joy that she’d just won a second gold medal in the X Games. Expect more girls to be influenced by these winners in the future.

Bronze medalist Sara Price at the press conference–sponsors include Kawasaki and Monster. The Energy drink brands have been among the fastes genres to sponsor these women.