Vicki Golden won the Women's Moto X Racing event at X Games for the past two years and will be going for the three-peat next month in Los Angeles. So finding an X Games invitation in her inbox recently wasn't exactly a surprise. Still, she says, she had to do a double take when she scrolled down and realized she'd also been invited to ride against the guys in Moto X Best Whip.
"Best Whip has always been one of my favorite events and this year I've been throwing a lot of whips and getting some good footage," says Golden, who will be the first woman to compete in the event. "I sent some photos and video clips off to X Games with high hopes and then didn't really hear anything at first. And then when I got the invite in the email I couldn't believe it. I wasn't sure if it was a joke or if I should be stoked."
While blurring the Moto X gender line will be a first for X Games, showing up the boys is actually a specialty of Golden's. She first started racing when she was just 7 years old and there weren't enough other girls in the game to form a race class. She held her own against her male competitors after her 2011 debut as the first woman to qualify for a main event on the AMA Arenacross circuit. Now she's aiming for a full pro license to race Arenacross and Supercross against the guys, thanks to support from new sponsors including the Metal Mulisha. Last month she became the first female team rider in the history of the notorious bad boys' club.
"I do seem to be breaking a lot of gender barriers in motocross," Golden says. "But that's never been my goal. It's just that the things I want to do happen to be the things the guys are doing, and I've never been afraid to go up against them to get to where I want to be."
A proper race whip is the celebratory mark of a dominating rider crossing the finish line in first place. Golden is a former Women's Amateur National Champion (2008) and TransWorld Motocross Female Rookie of the Year (2009), as well as a two-time X Games gold medalist. So she has thrown plenty of victory whips in her racing career. She's also been training on a freestyle ramp with her new Metal Mulisha peers and getting some tips from the likes of Todd Potter and Robbie Maddison. She says she's feeling confident she can whip it up with the best of the best on the big day.
"I'm going to be on a smaller bike and will be at a bit of a disadvantage," she says. "I'll be coming into the ramp faster and getting less pop because of it, where the guys will have more power and torque on their side, and all of those guys throw some dirty whips. But I do think mine have more than a bit of style."
The smaller bike won't be her only challenge, she says, acknowledging that four-time Best Whip gold medalist Jeremy "Twitch" Stenberg is the perennial fan favorite in the event that's based on fan votes via Twitter during the competition.
"For this contest, throwing the best whip is just one piece of it," she says. "Because it's voted on by the fans it's also a bit of a popularity contest, and I know I'm going to need all the help I can get. To be up against Twitch, I'm not going there expecting to win. He's been really loyal and dedicated to all his fans for a long time and has a huge advantage. But I think being the first girl in the contest is a good story and maybe that will be in my favor. Maybe being a bit of an outcast and an outlier will help me get some votes if I can show that I deserve them."
Other riders invited to compete in Best Whip in Los Angeles are X Games Barcelona Best Whip gold medalist Edgar Torronteras, Robbie Maddison, Josh Hansen and Nate Adams.