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Cue: dramatic music. A lone rider on a red-and-blue dirtbike tears around a motocross track, floating through the whoops, flying over monster jumps and taking corners as if a pack of riders is giving chase. After nearly a minute of intense shots filmed from above, the rider pulls up to a camera, takes off her helmet and says, in American Sign Language, "Welcome to my world. The world of Red Bull." After a few more commercials, the Lakers-Hornets game resumes on ESPN.
Welcome to the world of two-time WMA Motocross champ Ashley Fiolek, a new world in which NBA playoff games are interrupted by commercials featuring female action sports stars. The sixth Red Bull-sponsored athlete to star in a RB television commercial, Fiolek, 21, is the first female athlete and her spot is the first to air since Shaun White's ad ran last June. So, why Fiolek? "Ashley's an amazing athlete who performs at the highest level while overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds," says a Red Bull rep. "She embodies the Red Bull spirit."
With less than a month before the start of the 2011 WMA season, which kicks off at Hangtown in Rancho Cordova, Calif., on May 21, we caught up with Fiolek via e-mail to find out what she thinks about the commercial, what it means for women's motocross and if she'll be requesting hair and makeup between motos this season. (Editor's note: We may or may not have deleted a few exclamation points -- to save space.)
ESPN.com: How did you find out you would be starring in a commercial?
Ashley Fiolek: My Red Bull rider rep, Jeremy, texted me and told me they were interested in doing an X Games commercial in 3D and I thought it was a great idea. Red Bull and the producers (Brain Farm) already had the idea together. I had input into how things were signed at the end, and I wanted it to be done in American Sign Language. But I mostly just showed up to ride and have fun.
|Ashley Fiolek was the first deaf gold medalist at X Games, in 2009.|
The fact that a woman is doing the riding isn't revealed until the end of the commercial. What did you think about that ending?
I loved that idea! I had to wear my hair up every day and we had to make sure it was not showing in any shot. I love the ending. I think it is awesome.
Where did you shoot?
It was shot at Zaca Station, on the central coast of California, north of L.A. I have ridden there before and it is a beautiful track. It was freezing when we were there, so everyone had to be bundled up and then we took off our coats at the last minute. Sometimes there were cows on the track! One cow was kind of sketchy. He liked to chase after me and my bike.
How were the overhead riding shots filmed?
My favorite part in making the commercial was when the helicopter was chasing me around the track. It had to be timed just right and it was so crazy! It was right over my head at some points and dirt and rocks were flying everywhere. It took everything I had to hold on. After we were done, I got to go on my first helicopter ride.
During the shooting days, did you feel more like a rider or an actor?
It was pretty intense. I was with the Red Bull group hanging in their motor home, but there were like a hundred other people there. It was crazy. It was shot in 3D for the movie theater and there were helicopters and huge cranes that shot over my head. They had a special camera, the same one used for "The Fast and the Furious," and the camera spun around on a crane on top of the truck. We had to keep doing shots over and over and everyone would be watching. At the end, when I take off my helmet, I had a hair and makeup guy and every shot we did, he would do "touch-ups." I had a lot of fun doing it, but I don't think I will become an actress any time soon.
What did you think when you saw the final product?
Oh, I loved it! You never know how something is going to turn out. We spent three days filming and I knew the commercial would be less than a minute, but it was incredible to see it all put together.
What'd you think the first time you saw it on TV?
Believe it or not, I have NOT seen it on TV! It is killing me. I am training right now for the start of my season, so I don't have a lot of free time. I try and turn on the TV at night, but no luck. My mom and dad just saw it on TV for the first time the other day and they told me it is saved on the Xbox. I will have to watch that when I get back home.
What kind of feedback have you gotten so far?
Great feedback. Everyone seems to love it. I have a whole new group of followers on Twitter because of the commercial. I am really pumped about it.
What does this kind of exposure mean for women's motocross?
I think it is huge for women's motocross. Even for motocross in general, because it is not a mainstream sport. I think it is great that someone who doesn't know anything about motocross might think, "Hey, I need to check this out!" I hope more people will be interested and maybe try and get out to a race or follow it on TV or the Internet.
How's your training been going this off-season?
It's been going great. I think I am in my best shape ever. I feel really strong and anxious to get back out on the track and race again.
Will we see you at the X Games again this summer ... in more than one event?
Definitely. I love X Games. So much fun, the fans are great and the experience is amazing. I think it is possible I may be in more than one event.