Wednesday, June 20, 2012 Updated: June 25, 9:43 AM ET
Ashley Fiolek breaks more ground
By Ryan Garfat xgames.com
Two-time X Games Moto X gold medalist Ashley Fiolek, 21, and her father, Jim, provided a challenge the staff of "Conan" had never faced before: interviewing a deaf guest.
Concerns about chemistry and flow were quickly allayed when talk show host Conan O'Brien's questions came smoothly, and the audience reacted with enthusiasm to her responses, even during the pauses while Jim translated O'Brien's questions and spoke aloud Ashley's answers. Two members of the crew high-fived each other as the audience cheered, and the tense moments were over.
Before going on set, Ashley and Jim practiced the interview in the dressing room, going over the inevitable delay in translating questions. While she can read some lips, Ashley relies on her parents to translate more complex interactions. After a few minutes of coaching, they were ready, and the producers encouraged her to have fun.
"You have fun, too, Dad," Ashley said, comforting her nervous father.
X Games Moto X racer Ashley Fiolek points to her dressing room door after Tuesday's appearance on 'Conan' on TBS.
The first guest of the show, Sharon Osbourne, expounded on "sexting" with her husband, Black Sabbath rocker Ozzy, for his birthday. Jim hesitated several times while translating Osbourne's off-color discussion to Ashley from an in-house television.
"I have to follow her?" Ashley joked.
The "Conan" appearance was the latest stop in a series of new ventures for the young Moto X star. In April she was featured in a Vogue article and photo shoot, and she will soon begin filming a four-episode appearance on ABC Family's drama "Switched at Birth," where she will play Robin Swiller, a motocross racer who is the love interest of a leading character. She was also interviewed be ESPN Deportes on Tuesday, which will include a Spanish-to-English-to-sign language translation -- another first for Ashley.
During the "Conan" show, which aired nationally on TBS on Tuesday night, O'Brien joked with Ashley about her pink hair flying past the boys she used to race as a kid.
"I've always liked pink hair since I was little," Ashley said. "I won my first national with pink hair and I always thought it was good luck for me. It doesn't hurt when you pass a boy with pink hair."
She also addressed concerns that an accident at the 2011 X Games would prevent her from returning to the podium this year.
"I'm definitely more motivated this year. I'm going to come back and I'm going to be ready to win a gold medal, my third one. I'm going to do my best, and that's all I can really do," she said.
Jim admitted to fatherly concerns over her safety -- and her wardrobe on set, noting that he didn't want her "to gain in popularity for the wrong reasons" -- but said when she's competing, he's definitely rooting her on.
"I grew up doing it with my dad. I've watched Ashley do it, but no, it's not something you ever get comfortable with. I mean, that's my kid. I love my kid. I want her to be safe. I get nervous just like anybody else and I want the best for her, but actually when the gate drops, I'm like, 'Go get 'em,'" Jim said.
Fiolek said her doctors have not yet cleared her to ride since she suffered a concussion during a June 2 race in Lakewood, Colo., but she doesn't anticipate she'll be limited at the X Games.
"Our only concern is how much time she'll get to practice leading up to the event, not whether or not she'll be able to compete," Jim said.
Check back next week to witness Ashley's return to X Games competition. The Women's Moto X Racing competition takes place at 9 p.m. ET on June 30 on ESPN.