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Xtremely Feminine Sports

August 24, 2003|ANDREW ASCH

Women have come a long way since the 1950s, when Gidget, a.k.a. Kathy Kohner Zuckerman, brought attention to women surfers. Now a nation of women is riding waves and mastering extreme sports such as skateboarding, kiteboarding and motorcycle road racing. Women's professional competitions still don't get as much attention as men's contests yet, but that's just another challenge to the pro daredevils who gathered at Action Girl '03, a trade show in July at the Long Beach Convention Center. For them, a woman can be as comfortable in a bikini as in the winner's circle.

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Holly Beck

Pro surfer, 22

Palos Verdes

What kind of woman does action sports?

A girl who's not afraid of falling down. They're in it for the rush.

How did you start surfing?

My mom told me, "Surfing is for boys. You'll never get boyfriends that way. You ought to be on the beach, looking cute in a bikini." When I was 15, she gave up and let me do it.

What kind of guys like girls in action sports?

Guys who are secure in their masculinity and can handle a girl who will be competitive with them. When I first started, I had a boyfriend who couldn't handle it. The guys I hang out with now are stoked on it.

Cheerleading versus sports?

In cheerleading the point is to encourage somebody else. I tried out in high school. It was the best thing ever that I didn't make it. Surfing is so much more of a rush.

Do women have to be sexy to get ahead?

Definitely. It's kind of disappointing. But that's the way the world works. I used to be a super tomboy. As I got older, I thought, "If wearing shorter shorts means an extra paycheck, right on."

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Heidi Fitzgerald

Skateboarder/skateboard instructor, 29

San Diego

What kind of woman does action sports?

You gotta be tough. End of the story.

How did you start skateboarding?

I had a stepbrother in the picture. My dad was getting him a skateboard, and I said I wanted one. It was a pink mini Psycho Stick with pink wheels, pink rails, everything. When I came back to skate with my stepbrother in the summer, I was better than him. He quit and I kept skating.

What kind of guys like girls in action sports?

My boyfriend is a skateboarder. I get hit on by all kinds of guys. I was in a convenience store, and I got hit on by a guy in a suit. I've seen everything from dirt bags to preppie, yuppie scum. We don't pick love, love chooses us.

Cheerleading versus sports?

I was a cheerleader. I didn't like the high-pitch gossip. Too much drama.

Do women have to be sexy to get ahead?

I skated in a bikini top in one contest. I definitely got more points.

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Jodie York

Motorcycle road racer, 34

Ventura

What kind of woman does action sports?

A woman who likes excitement. Motorcycle road racing is the lunatic fringe, the dark horse on the edge. Those of us who stick around have crashes and shake it off. We refuse to submit to fear or anything else.

How did you start road racing?

My mother had a motorcycle, a 500cc Honda. When her Volkswagen was in the shop, she'd ride my sister and me separately to elementary school. All my friends saw my blond, long-haired mother drop us off on her motorcycle. So when they ask about mentors, my mom was the first one.

Cheerleading versus sports?

Do whatever gives you the stoke.

Do women have to be sexy to get ahead?

I have seen a lot of playboy stuff.

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Claudia Nygard

Kiteboarder/kiteboarding instructor, 36

Hood River, Ore.

What kind of woman does action sports?

A woman who works on overcoming her fears. I am somewhere in the adrenaline junkie section.

How did you get into kiteboarding?

My background was in windsurfing. I saw the sport for the first time in Hood River, Ore. Cory Roeseler, one of the sport's inventors, and his wife were holding a demonstration.

What kind of guys like girls in action sports?

Real men. They don't want a poodle. They don't want a bimbo. They want a partner they can have adventures with.

Cheerleading versus sports?

I think some cheerleaders might start kiteboarding. We might have crossover.

Do women athletes have to be sexy to get ahead?

If you rip and you rock, you'll get attention, no matter what.

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