Nitro Circus Live: One-On-One With Jolene Van Vugt

For almost 10 years, Travis Pastrana and his Nitro Circus cohorts have taken their sports to the next level, incorporating killer tricks with eye-popping stunts. One of those co-stars is Jolene Van Vugt.

Van Vugt, 34, is one of the best female motocross riders ever with a career that includes being the first Women’s Canadian Motocross Champion, the first female to backflip on a motorcycle and much more. Having been on two wheels since she was little, Van Vugt knows a thing or two about the sport she loves. She also knows what fans want to see live – and it’s high-flying, envelope-pushing tricks.

That’s why Van Vugt, Pastrana and rest of the Nitro Circus crew is taking their show back on the road in 2015, with over 40 athletes, new tricks and more entertainment for fans. After last year’s success, Nitro Circus Live will once again return to the United States in May for 14 shows in 14 cities.

We recently got a chance to chat with Van Vugt to find out what’s new on the tour, if it takes any physical toll on her and what kind of music her iPod is blasting before a show.

The Circus

CraveOnline: What tricks and entertainment can fans expect from Nitro Circus Live this time around?

Jolene Van Vugt: We are always adding new tricks, stunts and athletes to make the show better and fresh. They can expect another amazing Nitro show. We all give all we have each time we step out there.

Crave: You’ve been with Nitro Circus since 2005, what’s it been like to see the brand grow over that time?

Van Vugt: We always hoped we’d get to travel the world with our friends and entertain people for many years, we never knew it would turn into this – it’s epic and we love our jobs! 

Crave: How difficult is it to travel and perform in a show predominantly featuring male athletes?

Van Vugt: It’s not difficult at all. I get along extremely well with all the guys. Most are like family and some are my best friends. They all look out for me and treat me with respect. I know I can always count on any of them. So many of them have helped me and pushed me to grow as an athlete and to do the things I have done over the years.

Beating up your body

Crave: What type of physical punishment does your body take over the course of the tour?

Van Vugt: Each tour is different as per the injuries that can come along with each crash or fall. But it’s never smooth sailing for me, that’s for sure. I spend a lot of time with the [physiotherapist] – and I mean a lot.

A double backflip?

Crave: I hear you’ve been attempting to become the first female to double backflip on a BMX bike, how’s it been going? Is it much different compared to pulling off a backflip on your dirt bike?

Van Vugt: It’s very frustrating to know you have a trick but keep crashing. It makes me push harder and want it more but it is annoying.

Related: Aaron Fotheringham: The Father of Wheelchair Motocross

Crave: Compare your nerves and mindset before a Nitro Circus stunt to those prior to an X Games event?

Van Vugt: Competition and performing are two very different things, I get just as nervous but seemingly in a different way – I don’t really know if I can actually explain it.

Paving the way

Crave: How important is it for you to be a role model for women looking to follow in your moto footsteps?

Van Vugt: The path I have chosen and continue to go down is not an easy path at all, it’s been a lot of hard work and many trying times with endless injuries but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. If girls want to do what I’ve done all the more power to them and I take that as a huge compliment. I love what I do and it’s an amazing journey. I think it’s important that people see, anyone can do what they want – it doesn’t matter if you’re boy or girl.

Crave: Is it important for you to be a trailblazer, with various world records and moto firsts under your belt?

Van Vugt: I never set out to be that, I’ve always just followed my heart doing what I love and I love pushing myself. If I can be the first, be it first-ever or first female, I find that to be a huge incentive to push harder and get it done. No matter how many times I have to get up and try again. 


Crave: What kind of music is on your playlist during training or before a performance?

Van Vugt: Since Nitro Live started, I have listened to Pour Some Sugar on Me by Def Leppard every night before the show, getting geared up and ready to go.

Crave: When you’re not performing mind-blowing tricks on the road, how do you spend your time?

Van Vugt: I like to go home to Canada and chill out with my family and friends there in London, Ontario.


Ed Miller is a contributor for CraveOnline Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @PhillyEdMiller or “like” CraveOnline Sports on Facebook.

Photo Credit: Getty