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Off-Road Racing Excellence
Fans of off-road motorcycle racing know the name Maria Forsberg. In her nine-year racing career, she has become one of the most successful women off-roaders in the world, with numerous awards to her name: two Grand National Cross Country and World Off-Road Championship Series Women's titles, along with an X-Games Women's EnduroCross Gold Medal. And in 2011, she was named the American Motorcycle Association's Racing Female Athlete of the Year for a second time.
And last December, the Everett, Wash., Local 191 member signed on to KTM Motorsports' racing team — one of the world's main manufacturers of off-road motorcycles — becoming the first woman to ride under the company's banner.
"With Maria's success over her pro career and most recently this last season, it was an easy decision to move her to our factory team," said KTM Team Manager Antti Kallonen in a statement. "We are very excited to have her under the tent and to provide her with the support she has worked hard to earn."
The 25-year-old Washington state native has arrived at the top of her sport. And while she has inspired thousands of fans across the world, her biggest supporters continue to be her co-workers at Boeing's airplane assembly plant in Everett.
Forsberg still puts in a full-time schedule as an inside wireman at the plant, punching the clock in between her intense practice schedule and crisscrossing the world for the next race. A proud six-year member of Local 191, she credits her IBEW training for her success — both on the job and the racecourse.
Off-road racers compete on nearly every kind of rough terrain imaginable, from rocky hills to muddy roads, and are responsible for servicing their own bikes. "My training has helped me be mentally aware of what could happen next," Forsberg says. "In my job and in racing you have to stay focused so you don't get hurt."
As much as she loves the sport, she knew the importance of investing in a full-time career. Forsberg says she was inspired by her father, a Seattle Local 46 member who repairs heating and cooling systems.
Her father, who still competes in local off-road racing contests, is also the inspiration for her racing passion. "My mom and dad actually met at an off-road race," Forsberg says.
Learning to ride before reaching the age of five, Forsberg began competing professionally at 12.
It didn't take long for her to make a splash in the racing world, winning her first Northwest Motorcycle Association competition at the age of 15. It has been uphill from there.
As a woman, Forsberg stands out in a sport largely dominated by men, but her victories in the field have won her big respect from fans and racers alike.
In off-road racing, endurance and strength are often more important than speed, so Forsberg gets in at least two hours of cross training every day.
Balancing two careers is tricky, but Forsberg says she is lucky to have the support of her employer, the construction contractor Kiewit.
And at the height of the racing season, it can be a killer routine. Forsberg goes straight to the airport each Friday after work, flying out to get to the racing site — often on the East Coast — by the next day. If she is lucky, she catches six hours of sleep before going into work Monday morning.
And 2012 is looking to be one of her busiest seasons ever. She is already training for this summer's X-Games, and will be riding under KTM's banner in this year's GNCC contests — the world's premier off-roading competition.
"I can't wait," Forsberg says. "I'm very lucky to have the support of my workplace and my union in my endeavors."
"Maria is a great asset to the IBEW and we couldn't be prouder watching her make sporting history," says Ninth District International Vice President Michael Mowrey.
You can follow her racing exploits on her Web site,.