8 Women Who Are Breaking Stereotypes In Extreme Sports

"Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee."

"This is a man's world."

You might know this quote from the popular James Brown song, but to many women out there it's more than just a lyrical passage.

Even nowadays, female athletes still face a great deal of gender stereotyping and many young girls are discouraged from partaking in male-dominated sports, especially extreme ones such as surfing, snowboarding, motocross racing, etc.

The good thing is that not all of them are willing to listen to unreasonable remarks and succumb to the threat of bias when a challenge presents itself. Such women pave the way for future generations of professional female athletes and thus deserve to be celebrated.

To that end, we've created a list of eight kick*ss ladies whose careers prove anything is possible if you want it badly enough and are willing to fight for it.


1. Queen of the snowy hills, snowboarder Kelly Clark.

The first time Clark stood on a snowboard, she was 7 years old. It took 11 more years for her to start competing professionally, but since then, Clark's career has snowballed. (Excuse the pun.)

At 18, Clark became a member of the U.S. Snowboarding team and snatched a gold medal in the women's halfpipe at the 2002 Winter Olympics. She is now an acclaimed veteran with more than 70 career wins and is credited with forging a path for women snowboarders across the world.

Driven by her own success, Clark established The Kelly Clark Foundation, which provides promising young snowboarders with resources and opportunities to achieve their highest potential.

Kelly Clark on success"I think what's made me so dominant is that I'm internally driven. I look around, I get inspired, and then I stick to my plan and my goals," she told Women's Health.

2. Fast and furious BMX racer and track cyclist Shanaze Reade.

After whooping a few boys' a**es at a local BMX track, Shanaze Reade decided her track cycling and field sports career could use some spice. With no hesitation, she ventured into motocross. 

At the age of 17, Reade began racing with men at the 2005 National Championship. Despite multiple injuries, the following year she earned the title of British National No. 1 in the 19 & Over Elite Men category and won a World Championship title in Brazil soon after. Even more medals followed, including the Women's Senior UCI BMX World Champion and UCI Track World Championship in 2007.

3. The woman who conquered great heights — BASE jumper, skydiver, rock climber, and overall adrenaline junkie Clair Marie.

Those who've had the chance to see Clair Marie in action know she's all about that BASE. More famously known as the BASE Girl, Marie discovered her passion for BASE jumping when she was only 8 years old. 

Since then, she's done everything in her power to make her dream come true and has been graciously rewarded — at 16, Marie became the youngest woman in the history of BASE jumping

Currently, Marie is sharing her passion for adrenaline and adventure by traveling to new locations and teaching people the subtleties of BASE jumping. She also started to fly a wingsuit and it seems like it won't be long until this extreme athlete becomes 100 percent airborne.

Clair Marie on success: "I really embraced an attitude of 'that's nice that you think that but I don't care, I know I can do it.' If I would have listened to 99 percent of the people whom I talked to about what I was doing, I would not be where I am today!" she told Red Bull.

4. Meagan Ethell, aka "wakeboarding's next leading lady."

While most 15-year-olds were obsessing over their teenage troubles, Illinois teen Meagan Ethell was already stashing prestigious awards in her parents' cupboard.

Proclaimed to be the "leading lady" of wakeboarding, now 18-year-old Ethell really is a seasoned professional working with major sports brands such as Red Bull, Nautique, and Liquid Force. She was recently named Best Female Wakeboarder at the 2015 Wake Awards.

More than anything, Ethell believes in determination and hard work. Her advice to anyone who says they want to be like her is to work as hard as possible and never forget to have fun with it.

5. Deaf-defying motocross champion Ashley Fiolek.

When Katy Perry sang "I am a champion and you're gonna hear me roar," she could have had Ashley Fiolek in mind.

Born with profound deafness, 25-year-old Fiolek never let her condition get in the way of her goals — like becoming one of the world's most bad*ss motocross racer.

Racing since she was 7, Fiolek has acquired a pretty impressive portfolio that includes multiple awards such as Women's Pro National Motocross Champion and X-Games Super-X Gold Medallist. Fiolek is also noted for bringing awareness and prestige to women's motocross racing.

Ashley Fiolek on success: "I just want to say to all the girls out there that whatever you dream, you can make happen. If you're willing to work for it, you can do it," she told AMA Supercross.

6. Cali girl with mermaid hair and mad skateboarding skills — Lizzie Armanto.

When Lizzie Armanto and her brother were handed their first skateboards in 2007, no one expected things to play out this way.

The 14-year-old felt an instant connection with her board. While her baby brother quit after chipping a tooth, Lizzie fell head over heels in love with her new toy. Incredibly, it took her only three years to turn that toy into a career.

Since her start as a pro skateboarder, Armanto has already racked up more than 30 awards from competitions that are primarily dominated by male skaters. She admits skating with guys makes her try harder and pushes her limits.

Lizzie Armanto on success: "Don't let your mind stop you and like anything, the more time you put in, the more you get out of it," she told Cooler.

7. Ain't no mountain high enough, ain't no valley low enough when you can do parkour like Amanda "Panda" Voll.

Getting around in big cities can be tricky with subway delays and buses moving at the speed of snail. But for Canadian Amanda Voll, that's not a problem.

The 27-year-old can always use her extensive knowledge of parkour and free running to creatively move from point A to point B. She's been practicing parkour for eight years now and works as an instructor as well.

Voll is especially devoted to nurturing female athletes and hopes to inspire more girls to take up parkour and free running.

8. Surfer Alana Blanchard, the closest we've come to a real-life mermaid.

Easily one of the most famous pro surfers in the world, Alana Blanchard is not only ripping tides, but also turning heads as she hits fashion show catwalks all over the world.

Originally from Hawaii, Blanchard started surfing when she was only 4 years old. After long years of practice, she deservedly became a top-ranked female pro with a number of championship wins in her pocket.

A highly competitive and larger-than-life personality in the surf world, Alana also has a soft side that she expresses by designing swimwear for brands such as Rip Curl.

To sum up — whatever it is that you do, do it with strength, pride, and determination, like these awesome women who continue to inspire us.


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