[Ed.'s Note: The Action Sports Report is a weekly blog that covers sports from skateboarding to snowboarding to FMX.]
Catching moto legend Travis Pastrana on an off day is kind of like seeing a dog walk on its hind legs. You know it happens but you rarely see it. So what exactly does he do when he's not on the job? Pretty much the same thing he does any other day.
On a recent 70 degree day in January when Pastrana didn't have anything scheduled we headed to Lake Elsinore Motocross Park just off Route 15 about 40 miles north of San Diego so Travis could reconnect with his inner rider. He hadn't ridden a motocross track in several years and was giddy about turning some quality laps.
"Being on a track and just riding is my first love," says Pastrana. "It's where everything started for me."
After spending a few laps on his borrowed bike getting his timing back the Nitro Circus ringleader looked pretty natural back in the saddle, soaring over the 70-foot step up and even throwing down the occasional nac-nac in the afternoon sun.
"You never really forget what to do," he says excitedly. "I don't really need the clutch. I can just pop over the triple by staying on the throttle."
Word quickly buzzed through the park that it was, in fact, Pastrana blowing by the weekend warriors and Supercross hopefuls in the rhythm section and a steady stream of curious onlookers made their way over to Pastrana's truck as he loaded up.
Afterward he signed 20 or so autographs for locals stunned to see him at their home track. "You're Travis Pastrana," says one dirt covered father lugging his 4-year-old son who got his picture snapped with Pastrana. After packing up his gear he taped an interview segment for an upcoming Ashley Fiolek documentary. Then it was off for some late afternoon skydiving. After that, maybe some go-cart racing. Nothing like a off day. —C.P.
A PIT STOP AT PINKBERRY
A turkey sandwich and Pinkberry frozen yogurt. With one afternoon to explore Venice Beach before flying home to Australia, that is what 18-year-old surfer Sally Fitzgibbons is craving. "You can't get turkey at home," she says. "And I've never been to Pinkberry. I won't even know what to order." Fitzgibbons is homeward bound after spending three weeks traveling through Europe and Morocco with five Roxy teammates and a caravan of filmmakers. During a stroll along Venice's famed Abbott Kinney Blvd ("It reminds me of Bondi.") Fitzgibbons opened up about being the youngest (and fastest) surfer ever to qualify for the World Championship Tour, how she's feeling heading into the first contest of 2009 and whether she'll be around long enough to go for 10 championships.
MAG.COM: You're the fastest to qualify ever, male or female, does that add pressure at the start of your season?
FITZGIBBONS: Yes, but Snappers, where the first contest is held, is one of those waves where I feel really comfortable. I got a good start there last year and it was like a pressure valve releasing. It's nice to head into next year feeling strong and fit and confident. But I don't think about the pressure.
The tour is changing. Would you agree that this year's lineup features the most athletic, charging group of female surfers ever?
Totally. Everyone is hungry and fighting for waves. It's annoying out in the water sometimes, but the competition is exciting. We are all athletes. I played soccer and touch football and cross-country and track and tae kwon do. My brothers did sports and I was dragged along on the blanket. That's how I got into sports. The really satisfying thing about women's surfing right now is that there is always someone coming. Tomorrow, you might hear about a 10-year-old from Brazil. There is no time to relax. If you don't change and keep learning, you'll fall off the tour.
What is changing most about the way women surf?
It's becoming more aerial. For women, these are futuristic maneuvers, but the men have been doing them for years. It's only a matter of time before we catch up to that basic level of aerial surfing and throwing tail. If we want people to come to the beach and watch female surfing, we have to do something about it. We have to progress. I love watching the men surf and I know we will never be as good, but to strive for that, it's the gold at the end of the rainbow.
For years Layne Beachley dominated the women's tour. Now it's anyone's game. Do you believe you can win a world title at 18?
The whole thing back then was people thought Layne was going to win and they were going for second. That stagnated the sport. But to have Sofia [Mulanovich] come through and win at such a young age and to watch the way technique has evolved is great. That is the constant challenge and why I love surfing. In track and field everyone, has the same track, and skiers have the same snow. But surfing isn't constant and no one gets the same chance everyday. You train and can do everything right, but you have that one element that it is always a challenge.
What does an accomplishment's like Kelly Slater's ninth title mean in the eyes of a rookie?
It's really hard to wrap my mind around. Kelly has been on tour since the year I was born. I'd like to think I'd still be there, but I don't know. He's amazing.
What is the best thing about being a pro surfer?
Definitely the lifestyle. I am 18, I travel the world and I am doing all the things my friends wish they could do. A lot of my friends, I see them finish school and save up for months to travel to one country. I am fortunate enough to travel the world in just these past couple of weeks. But sometimes all that travel is complicated and tough, and then I realize my friends just saved up to go on that one trip and that was the trip of a lifetime. —A.R.