Every Thursday, TWMX & BluStarr.com Women's MX apparel will bring you "She Races," a weekly news and opinion feature covering the world of women's motocross racing on the track and behind the scenes.
Our first installment of “She Races” is an interview with California Vicki Golden. Last weekend Golden not only won her third X Games gold medal in Women's Moto-X racing, but also took a bronze in the Best Whip competition.
Interview: Sarah DiMare/Photos: Chris Kimball
Rider Name: Vicki Golden
Hometown: San Diego, CA
Sponsors: The Talking Frog, Metal Mulisha, Mandingo Pickles, and Mind-FX Energy
California native Vicki Golden started racing at the young age of seven, competing against the boys because, at the time, there weren't any women's classes at her local track. Initially she felt bad beating the boys because their fathers would yell at them for getting beaten by a girl, but that didn’t stop her from pursuing her motocross dreams. As she grew up she continued to train hard and race every weekend winning or landing on the podium at local, regional and then national amateur events. In 2008 she wrapped up her amateur career by winning the prestigious and coveted Loretta Lynn’s Amateur National Championship.
In 2009, she reached one of her goals by earning her AMA/WMX Pro License. She was quickly signed by the GEICO Honda Satellite team, replacing injured rider Trey Canard. Vicki earned an impressive third place overall finish to the cheers of the huge crowd at her first WMX Pro National at Hangtown in her native state. That same season Vicki was named TransWorld Motocross' Female Rookie of the Year.
Her career as a women's pro racer began to take off in 2010. She was riding for team MotoConcepts Yamaha, placed fourth overall in the WMA championship, third overall at the Pala National and made her first X Games appearance, placing fourth in the Women’s Moto-X event.
2011 was the year Golden really began to shine. She had another great season in the WMX series and took home her first ever X Games gold medal. Never content with the accomplishments, Vicki set her sights on becoming the first woman to earn an AMA Pro Arenacross license. While she didn’t earn her license in 2011 (only missing it by a few points), she did make history by being the first woman to ever qualify for a main event in the Arenacross series.
In 2012 her Arenacross/Supercross skills were getting even better and she earned her second gold medal in the X Games Women’s Moto-X competition. That fall she continued to compete against the men in the AMA Arenacross series.
Last weekend at the 2013 Summer X Games in Los Angeles, Vicki made history again by being the first woman ever to be invited to participate the Moto-X Best Whip event. There she faced off against the likes of Edgar Torronteras, Robbie Maddison, Josh Hansen and four-time gold medalist Jeremy "Twitch" Stenberg. In true Golden style, she went out and gave it her all, showing she has what it takes to hang with the boys by taking home the bronze medal. If that wasn’t enough, she also became a three-time gold medalist in the Women’s Moto-X competition.
In her short career, Vicki has already accomplished quite a few firsts and something tells us there's a good chance we'll see many more "firsts" for a woman in the sport from Vicki Golden.
We chatted with Vicki, fresh off the X Games, to see what all this means to her and what we can look forward to seeing from her in the future.
You were the first woman to be invited by the X Games to compete in the Best Whip competition. What does that mean to you?
It was obviously a huge deal just to be invited, and there was a lot of positive and negative feedback after it was announced. There are only six spots open to riders and everyone had to send in their videos to ESPN and X Games to see if they met the qualifications. At the time I remember thinking Todd Potter definitely should have gotten the spot over me, but I’m not the one who makes the decisions. I thought that if the X Games thought I would be competitive and able to compete, I wanted to put everything I had into it. At first, all I really wanted was to at least be invited back, but I am really happy how everything went. I'm stoked because my participation this year opens it up for other women to compete in the future.
With the way the voting is (by fans instead of judges), do you think winning the bronze medal says something about the fact that the fans want to watch women ride?
Yes! For motocross racing, it is obvious the fans love the women, but this was very different. It isn’t just a matter of having your whips dialed in, but you have to have a lot of hardcore committed fans! It is like a campaign. Like I said, initially there was a lot of positive feedback and a lot of negative feedback, but in the end there were many more fans who were really positive and that made all the difference. It was really inspiring and made me work even harder!
What did you do to prepare for the competition?
It was really stressful training for two events instead of just the one like last year, but training for the whips actually took some of the stress out of it because it was so much fun! I also wanted to say how really thankful I am for all the support from Ronnie Faisst. He let me come to his place and ride even though he's hurt. He has a ramp and a Speed & Style track, which really helped me get a feel for it. I am also really thankful for Larry Linkogle. He has the same ramp that X Games used and let me practice on it. My entire X Games Best Whip experience was so much better having them behind me the whole way.
After winning your third consecutive Gold in Women’s Moto-X, are you going to go for a fourth?
I'm for sure going for the fourth Gold Medal in Women's Moto-X! This year's event was really interesting and had an entirely different course. We normally don’t start with a gate, so I definitely had to get dialed in on my starts. I really had to put my work in. I know it wasn’t a straight-up win with the mistake Meghan Rutledge made but because of the bad start, I had to work really hard to work my way up from sixth to second before that happened. This year's event was made even harder because of the short laps. I know I was lucky at the end, but I still had to put the work in to get to a place where I could get the gold.
Do you think your Arenacross racing has helped you in becoming a three-time winner of X Games Women's Moto-X?
For sure! This year they said in the riders meeting they were going to lay down rules about being too aggressive, so for the first half of the race I was really trying to keep it clean and not force aggressive passes. But after I hit the halfway mark I had to go back to the aggressive way I would race in Arenacross so I could catch back up to the leaders because of the bad start.
What do the things you accomplished at this year’s X Games mean to you?
It means a lot to me just to have had the invitation and to get a medal in the men’s category. I’m not really stoked on how I rode in the Women’s Moto X. I may be over-critiquing myself, but I felt I didn’t race to my full potential and the track was really different from what it was like in previous years and what I had been training for. It was the same with Best Whip. I felt so good in practice, but at the event the layout was very different. In previous years, there was a ramp to start off on. The set-up this year had a very short run up to the ramp and we only had a half an hour between practice and the event, so there wasn't time to make any changes to the bike. There was no time to even try a different gearing set-up, so it was tough and a little frustrating. Another challenge was being on a 250 when everyone else was on a 450, which meant I couldn’t get the pop out of the ramp like everyone else. I know my whips are way better than what you saw on TV but I feel so blessed to have gotten the bronze medal. With Women's Moto-X, I have to ride the 250 but for next year’s Best Whip competition I will definitely be on a 450.
Over the last couple of years you've been working to earn your AMA Pro License in Arenacross in an effort to race Supercross. Is that still a goal for you?
Yes it is! Arenacross is one of the next things on my schedule and I really want to get back to it. I’m bummed I couldn’t race Arenacross last year and I think missing the season hindered my performance at the X Games somewhat. The competition gets tougher every season but I have never felt better on my bike and feel like this could be my year. My dream is to earn the pro license and anything beyond that is just a bonus.