(Story by Colin Bane -ESPN Action Sports)After signing a 12-month factory contract with Kawasaki this week, Australian freestyle motocross rider Emma McFerran says she can count the number of female role models in her sport on one hand, if not one finger.
"I'd always looked up to Jolene Van Vugt after seeing all the crazy stuff she does on the Nitro Circus series and DVD's," McFerran says. Van Vugt is one of the only other women in FMX with a factory bike deal.
"Just this year I was lucky enough to meet her while my brother was touring with them for the Australian Nitro Circus Tour and we still keep in touch a heap now. This helped make my decision to give FMX a crack more seriously."
McFerran, now 22, has been racing since she was 13 years old and is also sponsored by Fox Australia and Alpinestars. She started messing around on the jumps and trying some tricks last year after watching her brother Matty's freestyle career take off, immediately catching the attention of the Crusty Demons crew. They brought her on board for their 2010 "Thirst 4 Destruction" tour, where the only other women performing were the scantily-clad Crusty Babes.To prove she can hang with the guys, McFerran added Supermans, Superman Seat Grabs, Double Cans, Heelclickers, Double Can Indys, and Jackhammers to her bag of tricks, hitting bigger and bigger jumps and clearing gaps as long as 75 feet.
In November she got to ride with some of the biggest names in FMX -- including Robbie Maddison, Mike Metzger, and Brian Deegan -- at the Crusty Demons show in Brisbane, where she also had her first opportunity to ride in public with her own personal FMX hero.
"The highlight of the tour for me would definitely be getting to ride side by side with my brother Matty at the last two stops," McFerran says.
"It was huge for me, as he had helped me so much throughout the year. Matty had always been trying to convince me I had a huge opportunity out there and to make the switch from racing. I'm stoked I finally listened."
First order of business, after picking up her new green 2011 KX250F bikes? McFerran put her old Yamaha YZF250, with its pink and purple colorway, up for sale at EmmaMcFerran.com.
"It feels like it happened all so quick," McFerran says.
"I'd only just got the YZF set up for myself and the new pink kit on it, then had to put it up for sale, but I wasn't going to let that stop me making the switch to Kawasaki. The KXF is heaps crisp and snappy. Now that I'm starting to jump bigger, I know I will be able to trust the bike 100 percent. I'm planning on attending the Crusty Demons' Night of World Records towards the end of next year and hopefully be able to break or make some female records."