BY DUCK PATERSON
Oriana Fraser is a top-10-ranked motocross racer and she keeps setting her sights higher.
The 20-year-old from Ladysmith got into the sport at age 11, taking the lead from her brother, and has worked her way up a sixth-place finish on last year’s Canadian Women’s Pro National Series.
She travelled across the country, racing six events in Ontario and Quebec, and last month she was one of 18 competitors invited to an electric bike competition in Del Mar, Calif. Coming up for her are races around Western Canada as part of the Western Nationals series, and her next race is this Sunday, June 5, in Kamloops.
Despite her successes, she feels that there is still work for her – and other female riders – to do. “Motocross is definitely a male-dominated sport, which has been a bit of an obstacle for me as a racer to overcome, especially when I was first getting into it,” Fraser said. “In the beginning, there seemed to be a lot of opinions that I shouldn’t have been out on the track with the boys. As I’ve grown in this sport and improved, it has gotten easier for me and I don’t feel like I’m any different than the other male racers on the track … If you enjoy it, it doesn’t have to make sense to anyone else.”
That said, one of her favourite aspects of travelling for racing is getting to compete alongside “a good number” of female riders spread across Canada and the U.S., including on the Women’s Pro Nationals circuit where she is “able to see all the ladies come together.”
Fraser has been living in Campbell River at the motocross track since the middle of April after she finished her exams at Vancouver Island University. She works with trainer and coach Dusty Klatt most days and with all the rain this spring, she has had a lot of muddy days at the track. The conditions are hard on the bikes – one “blew up” a few weeks ago – and bike repairs, training and gas can make motocross an expensive sport.
“Bicycle parts, fuel, racing gear, travel, food and lodging, etc. are all essential ingredients for a successful racer,” Fraser said. “Everyone in my family works hard to support me in racing and I have a lot of sponsors supporting me and most of them are local. I can’t stress how thankful I am to everybody who is working on why side, without all of them I would not be where I am today.” Some of her sponsors are Ladysmith Motorsports, Fox Canada, Sky Racing, Tootrick Suspension, Ride Industries, GNB Builders, Atlas Modular Solutions Inc., Rynopower Canada, Atlas Brace, MXF Goggles, CTS Racing, PanicRev, Ladysmith Bumper to Bumper, Falcon Crest Imaging, Nanaimo Toyota, Mobius Braces and Risk Racing.
Fraser has ridden a Yamaha since 2018. She is switching over to a Y2 250F four stroke for 2022. She says that it is more controllable than a two-stroke motor.
“As we get more experienced racers, I need to find new ways to stay in front, so having a more controllable bike really helps,” she said.
Asked if the chances of getting seriously hurt has in any way dampened her spirit, Fraser said she has hurt herself plenty in this sport, which would be a typical for any high-level competitor.
“I have had to work through several relatively serious injuries which I am still struggling with today, but for the most part I have pulled through and none of them have stopped me yet,” she said.
Fraser has just finished her second year of a Bachelor of Arts program at VIU and intends to pursue a Bachelor of Education after that, as she loves teaching and has gained related experience including giving motocross lessons.