Not Quite Rivals -- Women's Enduro X's Maria Forsberg, Laia Sanz
The Enduro X Debut
Men's and Women's Enduro X debuted at the X Games in 2011 in Los Angeles. For the first two years, Seattle's Maria Forsberg dominated with two gold medals in 2011 and 2012.
A Changing Sport
Maria Forsberg says the Women's Enduro X class has changed dramatically in the past three years, with more women competing at higher levels. "All the girls are so talented," Forsberg says. "If you make one little mistake, there could be someone right there."
A New Leader
Spanish trials rider Laia Sanz joined the X Games Enduro X class for the first time this year, with her debut performance in April in Foz do Iguau, Brazil. Sanz won gold in Brazil, beating out Forsberg, who took silver. Sanz followed that up with another victory on her home turf at X Games Barcelona in May. Forsberg, again, got silver.
"I didn't prepare a lot for Brazil," says Sanz, shown here winning gold in Brazil. "But I think the secret is that I'm a trials rider and this helped me a lot, especially in endurocross since it's similar to trials. I need to improve in the start still -- I have no experience on the starts."
Then at X Games Munich in June, Forsberg returned to the gold medal position. She pulled ahead by clearing this challenging, rocky line with relative ease. "There were girls stuck in the cheater pile," says Forsberg. "I'd tried this line in practice four times and I'd gotten stuck. But then in the race, I waited for two seconds at the bottom and was like, 'This is my chance.'"
Forsberg celebrates her win in Munich. Afterward, she immediately went over to hug her husband, Ted Hahn, her mechanic, David Cripe (pictured here), and then Sanz, who took the silver medal. "I have the utmost respect for Laia," Forsberg says. "It's an honor to race with her, let alone beat her."
Friends and Rivals
"Maria and I have a good relationship and a lot of respect for each other," says Sanz, shown here in Munich. "Obviously, during the race we are opponents but then afterward, we talk and joke."
Sanz is one of the world's best female trials riders and a relative newcomer to the sport of endurocross. She's the 2012 Women's Enduro European champion and has won 12 of the past 13 FIM Trials World Championships.
The women of Enduro X will return for their final stop of the year at X Games Los Angeles, which takes place Aug. 1-4. "The goal now is try to win in L.A.," says Sanz, shown here in Barcelona.
One More To Go
"I never start my podium speech before the race is over," says Forsberg. "That always screws anyone up. I go lap by lap, obstacle by obstacle, one thing at a time." Forsberg's goal for this year? To medal at all four events. She'll be going for her fourth medal of the year in Los Angeles.