Ashley Fiolek has overcome broken bones and total deafness to succeed in the traditionally male sport of motocross. Up next, another championship – if only she can stop the boys from texting and wild boars messing up her track…
Most of us spend our lives moving in a horizontal plane: walking from house to car, driving from home to work, maybe pedalling a bit on the bike after a day’s work at the office. But twice women’s motocross champion and double X Games Super X gold medallist Ashley Fiolek prefers life on the vertical.
Give her a 250cc motorbike and she’ll climb on and set about finding the biggest dirt hill around to fling herself up and over. Give her a unicycle and she immediately wheels off and starts stunting with confident bunny hops. Give her a bowling ball and just before she hucks it down the lane, she finishes her approach with a quick, bouncy skip.
'Fiolek’s bowling technique sends her mobile phone skittering out of her pocket…'
Fiolek turns and smiles at the crowd who’ve assembled to watch her bowl at Florida’s Anastasia Lanes in St Augustine, USA. Deaf since birth, she attended the nearby Florida School for The Deaf & The Blind and is something of a local celebrity. “That’s the secret!” she signs. “Jumping!”
Admittedly, Fiolek’s bowling technique sends her mobile phone skittering out of her pocket into one gutter and the ball into the opposite one. Her goal on the day is to break a score of 100 – an aim-low target that makes her mother, Roni, a former league bowler, sigh disconsolately. But catching air is where the 20-year-old is most comfortable.
There are other rivals besides gravity that Fiolek must vanquish en route to attempting to regain her title when the motocross season starts in May. First and foremost, there’s six-time women’s motocross champ Jessica Patterson, who took the title back from Fiolek during the 2010 season. But a day spent with Fiolek as she trains reveals an array of foes: ghosts, robots and lovelorn boys. Also, at night the wild boars come…