Sitting on a mini-bus packed full of smelly boys, listening to conversations about recent sex conquests and toilet jokes, I often wonder why I bother taking part in such a male-dominated sport. Constantly being taunted and made fun of is just a daily occurrence when you are one of the few girls that attempts to compete in the world of freestyle skiing.

It makes me wonder how any woman in the world of extreme sports, or any male- dominated sport for that matter, can put up with so much abuse and still be so passionate about what they do.

Ask any girl that plays a sport like football or rugby and I’m sure she will tell you how hard it is to be taken seriously as an athlete in her field. You only have to look at the women’s English National Rugby team who made it the final of the 2006 World Cup, to see how women have progressed the sport internationally. However, ask any male rugby fan to name a successful female player and I guarantee you will struggle to get an answer.

The female population, however, have not been deterred from their determination to succeed. If anything, it has made us even more resolute to prove ourselves. Look at tennis for example: at Wimbledon, female athletes are just as successful as the males. Men and women are treated as equals and they both win exactly the same amount of prize money. Unfortunately, this is far from the norm in the sporting community with many women being paid far less than men.

In individual sports like surfing, skiing and snowboarding, the success of female athletes is growing. The popularity of these sports is increasing as is the numbers of girls wanting to become just as good as the boys. Without doubt, the future for women’s sport is bright.

My personal experiences have taught me that no matter how much the guys tease the girls, we keep getting back on the smelly mini-bus each week. Not because we want their respect, but because like all athletes, male or female, we love what we do.

Sarah Gold

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