Most extreme sports can often seem like they’re “boys only” clubhouses. However, the 8 badass female athletes on our list have proven time and again that they can compete with their male counterparts.
Some of them are single-handedly responsible for their respective sports becoming more welcoming towards women.
If women really have to work twice as hard to be taken half as seriously, then these ladies are as close to superhumans as we’ll ever get. The athletes on our list come from many different backgrounds. However, we’ve decided to group them according to their preferred sport.
First, we’ll talk about land sports such as parkour and BASE jumping. After that, we’ll transition into the ones that require boards, like skateboarding, snowboarding, and surfing.
Finally, we’ll end with motorized vehicle sports like wakeboarding, motocross, and non-motorized BMX racing.
We don’t know about you — but just seeing a list of these awesome sports is making our hearts pump harder. So let’s not keep them waiting — here’s our list of the 14 most badass female extreme sports athletes.
As promised, we’ll begin with parkour. If you search for videos of parkour and freerunning, you’ll probably find footage of highly skilled male athletes. However, Amanda Voll can run with the best of them — and she’s only been doing parkour for the past 9 years.
The 28-year-old Canadian stuntwoman considers the world her gym. You might see her bouncing off the buildings on her way to her next audition. She’s already booked 9 stunt jobs and 2 acting gigs, so you’ll be definitely seeing more of her soon. Additionally, while she’s working toward getting her big break, she’s also helping other women get to where she is by working as a parkour instructor.
Ever since Clair Marie was a little girl, she’s had a passion for BASE jumping. That’s actually how she earned the moniker “BASE Girl” — which she now uses as her Instagram handle as well. At the age of 16, she’d already been training to make her leap of faith for 8 years. So that same year, she became the youngest woman to attempt a jump in the history of that sport.
Aside from being the fan-favorite jumper, she’s also an all-around adventurer, MTB rider, rock climber, skydiver, stunt woman, and even a model. In 2013, she became a featured athlete on EpicTV and has been traveling and making BASE videos ever since.
Skateboarding is another extreme sport that might sometimes seem like a bit of a “boys only” club. However, Lizzie Armanto is living proof that it’s anything but!
After she started skating at age 14, it took her 3 years to make it to the big leagues. Now, Lizzie is a professional skater with over 30 awards. She participated in several competitions where her primary challengers were all men, and she won! Better still, in 2018, she was the first female skater to successfully complete the Loop, which is a 360-degree ramp.
Lizzie shows no signs of slowing down. Earlier this year, she announced that she’d be representing the Finnish national skateboarding team at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Most professional snowboarders enter the sport young, and Kelly Clark is no exception. After honing her craft for 11 years, she finally joined the US snowboarding team at 18. With her help, the team won a gold medal in the women’s halfpipe category at the 2002 Winter Olympics.
In 2015, she was the recipient of the ESPY Award for the Best Female Action Sports Athlete. After all, her career had cleared the path for many other female snowboarders.
However, after 70 awards and medals, Kelly announced her retirement in January 2019. Now, her primary goal is to make the Kelly Clark Foundation for young athletes the best it can be. Still, no matter what she decides to do next, the 35-year-old has already become a household name in the world of snowboarding.
Alana Blanchard has loved the ocean ever since she was a little girl. Now that she’s 29 years old and has earned many accolades for her surfing talent, it’s clear to us that the ocean loves her back. The native Hawaiian is more than just a professional surfer, though — she’s also a swimwear designer.
If you’ve been following the news from the surfing world, you might also know Alana’s close friend, Bethany Hamilton, who lost her left arm in a shark attack at age 13. Well, like Bethany, Alana is unafraid to face the dangers that lurk in the ocean — if only we could all be as brave!
The 22-year-old Meagan Ethell has been a professional wakeboarder since 2012. Her track record is very impressive, with 4 World Championships and 5 Masters Championships under her belt. In 2015 and 2018, Meagan was also honored as the Best Female Rider at the Wake Awards.
That’s probably why she has many big name brands vying for her favor. Now, her main sponsors are Liquid Force, Red Bull, and Mastercraft. However, given she’s only 22, who knows what lies in store for such a talented young athlete.
Ashley Fiolek is a professional motocross racer — and she’s also deaf. However, that hasn’t stopped this 28-year old from chasing after her dreams. In fact, Ashley is proudly deaf — she even mainly communicates using ASL.
Her parents saw no need to coddle her as a child, and they even encouraged her to start motocross racing at the tender age of 7. Afterward, Ashley went on to win the Women’s Professional National Motocross Championship and the X-Games Super-X gold medal.
BMX racing is not for the faint of heart — fortunately, Shanaze Reade is nothing if not fearless. At only 15 years old, Shanaze stepped into the male-dominated world of BMX racing at the 2005 National Championship.
She burst onto the scene with a bang, we’ll grant her that, and she’s been stacking victory on top of victory ever since. She’s won the UCI BMX World Championships three times already. However, after a hugely successful career, she announced her retirement in 2017.
In the years since her retirement from the sport, Shanaze worked as a fitness coach. Still, she just couldn’t stay away for long. In mid-2018, she came back to BMX racing, stating that she was now treating the sport as a hobby rather than a full-time job and investment.
Retired or not, Shanaze’s successful career is just another reason we need more women in extreme sports of all kinds, breaking down doors for other women to walk through.
Jolene Van Vugt
Jolene’s mom reportedly wanted her daughter to become a figure skater or ballerina. Though she probably would’ve pioneered some of the most amazing stunts Swan Lake’s choreographers had ever seen, we’re thankful she chose motocross.
After she convinced her dad to buy her a dirt bike at age 11, Jolene, a somewhat fickle hobbyist at that time, was given an ultimatum: either she take motocross seriously, or give it up entirely.
She chose the former and quickly ascended the ranks of Canada’s Women’s Motocross Association (WMA), winning numerous pro competitions.
She also holds multiple Guinness World Records, including one for being the first woman to backflip a full-sized dirt bike (you get a little taste of her skills–albeit on a little pink BMX jobby–in the video we’ve plucked) and one for driving the world’s fastest toilet.
She has been a prominent fixture on the Travis Pastrana-hosted extreme sport TV show, Nitro Circus. The only thing that’s not completely great about Jolene is the shortage of decent, accessible videos that track her impressive exploits. Get it together, Internet.
All it takes is one look at Dallas Friday’s trophy case to know she’s a big deal.
An ESPY Award for Best Female Action Sports Athlete, four X-Games titles and a slew of other accolades from worldwide competitions have earned her the (to our knowledge) undisputed title of best female wakeboarder in the world.
Maybe more amazing than her awards, is the fact that Dallas has been collecting them since she turned 14, only a year after she first touched a wakeboard.
The World Cup. The World, National and Pro Tour championships. Win, win. Win, win. The list goes on for a shocking clip. How someone could be so victorious in such a short span, and with so little training, is mind-boggling.
Oh, and she didn’t even compete in the 2011 season due to several severe injuries, so… in case her mammoth trophy case didn’t make it abundantly clear… she’s the real deal.
Full disclosure: we’re not sure she definitely has a trophy case. She may just have a giant award chess board somewhere. “My ESPY killed your X-Games gold! Checkmate!”
Who says vegans aren’t tough? Well, we have on several occasions, but WE’RE SORRY. WE KNOW NOW THAT WE WERE WRONG, OKAY?! You see, Juliana Sproles has proven us ever so stupid.
Because the kick-ass vegan has been crowned toughest woman on the planet after winning 2011′s “World’s Toughest Mudder” competition this past December.
And here’s another fun fact, she’s 42 years old. Talk about a supreme physical specimen.
Running 10 plus miles through an obstacle course designed by the British Special Forces and tailored to crack incapable entrants, the Mudder competition is one of the most brutal in all of extreme sport.
Just completing it at that stage of life would be impressive, let alone taking home the crown. Truly incredible. We young journalists of the extreme struggle to get out of bed some mornings.
But maybe all that could change…if we take a cue from Juliana and make a little adjustment in our eating habits. Now, who knows where to get a decent tofurkey?
Megumi Fujii is the number 5 best female MMA fighter in the world, with an impressive record of 25-2. She is also highly skilled and decorated in two other sports, Japanese National Sambo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and holds a black belt in Judo.
Known for her lightning-fast takedowns, Megumi’s signature move is the Judo-born toe-hold, which she dubs the “Megulock”. (Get it? “Megu”? Like her name?)
She may only be 5′ 3″, 113 pounds, but we’re pretty sure she could ruin our entire office any day of the week. Which is why we’d only interview her with one of those plexiglass prison panels separating us, lest we upset her. KIDDING! (We’re not kidding.)
Sarah will be remembered as one of the most talented and innovative athletes in the history and of all sport, extreme or not.
A Canadian freestyle skier, Burke was a four-time Winter X-Games gold medalist, world champion halfpipe winner, ESPY Award recipient and so much else.
But her biggest contribution came off the skis when she successfully lobbied the International Olympic Committee to have the halfpipe event added to the schedule for the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Tragically, Burke’s career came to an untimely end in 2012 when, at the age of 29, she sustained a fatal injury on a superpipe at Park City Mountain Eagle Resort in Park City, Utah. Burke had a passion for her sport that few of even the most talented athletes possess.
She had the wherewithal and courage to do more than perform within the bounds of what was established. She forged a new path for herself and for all those who will follow in her enterprising footsteps.