Jolene Van Vugt already earns her badass street cred by racing in the professional motocross circuit, and setting records for her back flips. Now she’s doing even crazier extreme stunts on Nitro Circus, the new show from the producers of Jackass. Van Vugt parachutes off a bike, flips tricycles and hydroplans her bike over a lake among the show’s wild stunts.
Crave Online: So what’s the deal, you’re so competitive you just need to win any crazy competition you can find?
Jolene Van Vugt: Well, not everything but we’re all a group of friends that is competitive with each other so sometimes it’s not even really about the stunt. It’s just about beating our friends.
Crave Online: How does a tricycle compare to a dirt bike?
Jolene Van Vugt: Well, it’s very small, hard to sit on sometimes. I’ve got no suspension and no motor, so it’s a little bit more of a challenge. For instance, when you’re hitting jumps, you don’t have the throttle power off the lift. It’s all about balance and motion. Just sit as far back as you can go and have someone push you as fast as they can go.
Crave Online: You’ve flipped both though.
Jolene Van Vugt: Well, I didn’t actually successfully backflip a big wheel. I crashed. I was injured attempting doing what I was doing but I gave it a shot anyways. Yeah, another day.
Crave Online: Oh, you have to land it too?
Jolene Van Vugt: Well, of course. Isn’t that always how it goes? If you’re going to go for something, eventually you want to try and do it right.
Crave Online: When will they add parachuting to professional motocross?
Jolene Van Vugt: Officially, I don’t think they ever will.
Crave Online: It’s pretty badass though.
Jolene Van Vugt: Oh, thanks.
Crave Online: How do you compare the rush of free falling to the speed of riding?
Jolene Van Vugt: Well, they’re two completely different separate things. To me, I have a completely different feeling when doing both of them. I’ve grown up around motorcycle and raced dirt bikes most of my life so for me it’s almost second nature. It’s a lot different than jumping out of a plane. I’m extremely afraid of heights so jumping out of an airplane for me is a little bit different and a little bit more of a challenge.
Crave Online: Are you still afraid of heights after doing that a few times?
Jolene Van Vugt: Oh yeah. Being afraid of heights doesn’t go away. You just get used to it, that’s all. You adjust.
Crave Online: How about hanging from the spinning helicopter?
Jolene Van Vugt: That’s fun. That’s like one of the best things ever. Seriously, that was one of the funnest things I’ve done. That was really cool actually. I found it really fun and of course we put a challenge in on it. Two people go up, see who can hang on the longest. That’s how we work. You always make it a contest. You always make it about who you can beat in the crew.
Crave Online: How are you at handling four wheels with the car race?
Jolene Van Vugt: I actually love the car stuff. I don’t think I’m actually too bad at racing cars. I really enjoy it. I’ve always been a big lover of cars. There’s always been a part of me that’s always wanted to try racing them so any car stuff that we got to do, I was always really excited and had a good time.
Crave Online: You wiped out on the hydroplane. If you’d made it to the ramp, do you think you’d have made the flip?
Jolene Van Vugt: I’m not sure. It’s hard to tell. That’s a trick that’s never been done. Travis made it to the ramp and didn’t make the flip the first time he tried it, so who’s to say if I would have done it any better, We’ll see in the future, give it another go, see what happens. I would have just liked to have made it to the ramp.
Crave Online: Why didn’t you try again?
Jolene Van Vugt: Sometimes the days just don’t allow for it. Setups can take up a lot of time. A bike getting bogged down in water, it doesn’t take two seconds to get it back up and running. Time just didn’t allow for me to give it another shot on that shoot so another day and I’ll give it a go.
Crave Online: I like the one with the ski on it.
Jolene Van Vugt: That was Jim, the longest distance hydroplane.
Crave Online: How does that even work?
Jolene Van Vugt: Well, it’s just a hydroplane in general. If the ski wasn’t there, the bike would’ve been doing pretty much the same thing. In our opinion, we think the ski actually hindered him and was the reason for why he ended up going down underwater before we anticipated, because the way the ski hit the water, it actually makes the bike jump. Instead of skimming on a flat plane and having a nice consistency, it started bopping. When it started doing that, that’s when the front end dropped and it went under water, it lost power.
Crave Online: Did you get to try that one?
Jolene Van Vugt: No, that’s on a big huge scary bike that I didn’t want to go on. That was on a pretty intimidating bike and for never doing a hydroplane before, I wasn’t ready to mount up onto that sucker and hit the water going fifth gear.
Crave Online: Is it more fun to do the stunts or watch them?
Jolene Van Vugt: It’s a little of both. We all enjoy doing them and we all want to do them. A lot of the times, there’s, "Oh, I want to do that one first. Oh, I want to do that first." Sometimes there’s, "I’m not going first. No, you’re going to go first." That’s just the way it is and sometimes they’re a lot more fun to watch than they are to do. I mean, sometimes you get hurt, no matter what the stunt is. There’s a huge possibility for getting hurt but sometimes there’s no way about it. You are going to get hurt and yes, people don’t always line up first for those ones but they’re sure funny to watch when your friends doing wrong.
Crave Online: How good are you at coming up with one-liners on the sidelines?
Jolene Van Vugt: Hey, I try my best. I don’t always claim myself to be the funniest. Andy and Tommy seem to be pretty good at it. I have my moments. Sometimes I’m funny and sometimes I just don’t say anything because I don’t even have the words.
Crave Online: How were the crossfire waterslides?
Jolene Van Vugt: Slip and Slide is actually one of my little things in the Nitro videos. I’m always in the clips for the Slip and Slide. When you’re a little kid you find those little yellow Slip and Slides to be the most amazing thing in the world and all they are is on a flat piece of grass in your backyard. Add 10 years to your age and a hill and some jumps, it’s the same amount of wow.
Crave Online: What won’t you do?
Jolene Van Vugt: I mean, everyone’s got their limits. I don’t really know what mine are sometimes and I know exactly what mine are in other aspects. It all depends on the stunt. A stunt has to be brought forward and then I make my judgment on that.
Crave Online: What’s coming up in future episodes?
Jolene Van Vugt: Oh, that you’ll have to stay tuned and watch.
Crave Online: How will you top these?
Jolene Van Vugt: I don’t know. We just keep doing what we’re doing and somehow we keep managing to come up with things that just go a little further each time.
Crave Online: Are you worried an injury on this could hurt your professional career?
Jolene Van Vugt: There’s always that, but anything can. There’s always risk for injury with doing anything and I’ve been racing a really long time and have had a lot of fun doing that. This for me is another part of my life that I really enjoy and have been doing for a while. I’m going to do both of them as long as I can and when one interferes with the other, you just kind of take your bumps when you come. If that happens I’ll deal with it at the time, but until them I’ll just keep plugging away doing the best I can in both.
Crave Online: How do you prepare for the pro circuit in May?
Jolene Van Vugt: Training, riding the bike, racing with people that push me and help me to get a little better, training in the gym with my trainer and my friends, getting physically and mentally fit and then just going out there and doing the best I can.
Crave Online: What are your goals for this year?
Jolene Van Vugt: We hope that Nitro Circus goes for a second season. I hope to place podium in the Canadian National Series. I want to get out there and race as many of the WMA pro races that I can do and hope to qualify for the X Games in motocross.
Crave Online: How do you learn to get faster? The bike must have its own limits so how do you learn to push it for an extra edge?
Jolene Van Vugt: It’s all skill. Learning to ride smoother, learning to corner better, faster, properly, jumping, scrubbing time when you’re in the air. There’s starts, getting good starts, having the endurance to race as fast as you did in the first lap on the last lap 20 minutes later. There are a lot of things you can always improve with athletic sports, especially with motocross. You just find the things that are your weaknesses and you work on them.
Crave Online: Has Nitro Circus helped you any on the pro scene?
Jolene Van Vugt: I mean, it helps make people more aware of who I am. It’s brought a little more awareness to women’s motocross because we’re able to put women riding in the videos and people see me in the videos and they associate me with riding, so that’s good for the women in the sport. Like you said before though, with taking my bumps and bruises in Nitro Circus, sometimes it doesn’t help your training when it comes to motocross. It’s got its positives, it’s got a little bit of its negatives, but I don’t really see them as negatives. I just see it as opportunities, the great things I love to do.
Crave Online: If you’ve done the back flip, shouldn’t that make you number one?
Jolene Van Vugt: No, if you look at the men, Ricky Carmichael’s never done a back flip and he’s the greatest of all time in motocross. There are guys that do back flips on a regular basis and I don’t think they’ve ever won a national championship racing a dirt bike. So they’re two different sports, they have two different titles and they take two different types of training so doing flips doesn’t make you a champion of any sort for racing dirt bikes. You have to put the time and the work in for that specific sport. Motocross and freestyle are two separate sports.
Crave Online: Have Jeff Tremaine and Johnny Knoxville mentioned getting you into any Jackass stunts?
Jolene Van Vugt: No, we haven’t really talked about stuff like that just because Jackass is Jackass and Nitro Circus is Nitro Circus. We’ve got our show going right now. We bring in a Knoxville and we bring in a few other special guests from Jackass so maybe in the future, yeah, maybe they’ll have us come in on some Jackass stuff. We don’t know.