By T.J Erny
Photos by Simon Cudby
In the demanding sports of motocross and off-raod racing, two women have risen to the top of their class. Not only winning a ton of races, but making huge leaps for women in a male dominated sport. Honda’s Ashley Fiolek has dominated motocross, winning AMA championships and X-Games gold. Ashley has accomplished all this while overcoming her deafness. KTM’s Maria Forsberg has accomplished a ton in her career and she is only getting started. 4 WORCS championships, X-Games Gold in Women’s Endurcross, and multiple GNCC Championshisp. Vurb wanted to see how these girls got started and what their opinon the future holds for women riders.
Vurb caught up with Maria while relaxing in Hawaii before the hectic offroad season starts.
Vurb: How did you get into racing?
Maria: My parents met at a race, so it’s always been a family thing. They were always into it, so I just fell into it too. I started racing on an 80cc bike. It seems like forever ago that I had my first race. My first bike was a hand me down 50cc bike from my brother when I was 4.
V: Do you have a pre-race routine? Do you get the butterflies?
M: I don’t have much of a routine. I fly from the Washington to the East coast for races. Usually I am really tired in the morning from the 3-hour time difference. A lot of the time I get up early and eat at the hotel, then head off to the track. Sometimes I will take a nap in the truck and get some extra sleep, so I am pretty relaxed before races. Normally I won’t get any butterflies until right when the starter gives us the 10-second call.
V: What type of training do you do to prepare for racing?
M: Right now I am really into Cross-Fit training. Which really allows me to maximize my time with working a full time job. So you get a full body workout with a minimal amount of time. It is super hard and gets me really prepared for off-road racing.
V: You brought home an X-Games gold in Women’s Endurocross, what was that like?
M: Gnarly hard, but super fun. I am really excited to compete again this year at the X-Games. I had so much fun last year.
V: Favorite GNCC race/favorite place to ride?
M: Snowshoe West Virginia. I love that course.
V: What are your expectations for this year?
M: Looking to defend my title in the GNCC Women’s class. It’s going to be even harder with more and more girls coming out to race. I’m also looking forward to competing in the X-Games again. It was an awesome experience. I am hoping to win another gold medal.
V: How’s the factory ride feeling these days?
M: It feels pretty awesome. Really awesome! I am super happy that KTM gave me this opportunity to be a factory rider. It’s still hard to believe I get to do what I do.
V: What do you think the future of woman’s off- road holds?
M: I think it (Factory KTM ride) is really cool for women’s off-road. Hopefully it will help more women get more factory support. It will be awesome if in the next 3 to 4 years Pro women won’t have to work and can really focus on their racing. To live a real ‘pro lifestyle.’ It would be huge for all women’s sports. Hopefully they can even it out with the guys a little.
V: Who or what gives you your drive?
M: Since I was little I have been massively competitive. My husband says that I have the most drive than any person he knows. I don’t think I have the most natural talent. But I do have so much drive to win and to get what I want. I work extra hard to get it. I have always been the younger one to keep up my bigger brother, who has been really good at everything he does. I think that a lot of people look at me and think I am naturally talented at sports. But if you saw me play any bat or ball sport, people would know I am definitely not a natural athlete. (Laughs) I am kind of bad at all those. (Laughs) When I am on the line I get a rush that runs through me. I just want to win so badly. I want it so much more than everyone else. It’s not my natural ability, but my training. My training leads me to winning. I only take 1-2 weeks off after the season. Other than that I go at it year round. I think a lot of people overlook the heart in an athlete and stress too much on how skilled they are. In this sport your can never be over prepared for it.
V: Did you take any surf lesson while in Hawaii? Do you already know how to?
M: Umm, yeah, we tried it and rented boards. Not really a success. I am not that great of a surfer. I am more of a wheeled-sports girl, like go carts and mountain biking.
V: Whom would you like to thank?
M: There are a lot of people, but most of all KTM, FMF and Muscle Milk. I am so pumped they are allowing me to live out my dreams.
Maria will be competing in all the GNCC events this year, attempting to defend her title. She’s been training hard and is determined to succeed. Her first test will come this weekend at round one at the River Ranch complex in Florida. You can follow her in the races and get live scoring at www.gnccracing.com Click on the live scoring button. The women’s class takes off in the morning AM race.