Women in Sports: Kerstin Wagner On How Following Her Passion For Motocross Led Her To A Dream Career

I'm proud to wear my name on my jersey and to do my best in what I love the most! - K.W.
Since her childhood, Kerstin Wagner has had other dreams than the typical teenager. During her early years, Kerstin decided to pursue her passion for Motocross and hasn’t looked back ever since. Through her participation in many competitions across Austria Kerstin not only raced against female drivers but also her counterparts in mixed groups, proving the world that it’s not always about the rider but about the performance! Despite hindrances, both literally and figuratively, such as rib injuries and the stress that comes with commuting, Kerstin remained strong and branched out into the many other aspects that support motorcycle sports.

B: To dive right in, could you briefly tell us about your job and what you do as a motocross rider?

K: Thank you for showing an interest in my story, before I give you a little insight I want to say that dreams and goals can change in the course of one’s life and I think that's a good thing, as long as you do not lose sight of your passion! Fortunately, doing motocross sport has led me to my current profession. I work in the IT Department at the headquarters of the motorcycle manufacturer KTM. In short, I'm responsible for maintaining our Enterprise Resource Planning system - SAP, in logistics.

Last year, I had the chance to participate in the rollout of the SAP ERP and EWM system in North America, which meant I could spend half a year in the US to work for KTM and Husqvarna Motorcycles. Next, to such a large project free time is somewhat scarce, which is probably obvious, however, the many working hours in California helped me put on my helmet and make a few laps - purely for fun and without competition - which was good!

B: So how did you come to be a motocross rider? Did you have much to do with this sport in your younger years?

K: I actually came to motocross sports in an unspectacular manner. For my sixteenth birthday, I got tickets from my parents for the show "Masters of Dirt" in Linz, where I saw motorcycles jump over huge ramps. The athletes showed a lot of tricks and breathtaking stunts. I was already keen on sports in my childhood, so I was involved in all kinds of team sports such as volleyball and relay. Growing up with three big brothers always brought a certain amount of competition and I felt ready for a new challenge. I made a deal with my parents that, if I could finance my first motorcycle myself, I would also get the support I needed to become a motocross athlete - at that point, of course, no one ever took me seriously! After working many hours at the local inn, where I was employed, we set off to pick up my first motorcycle. The rest is history.

B: Your turbulent work as a motocross rider allows you to travel a lot for different events. Would you say that you are mostly on the move for your job?

As mentioned briefly, my goals have shifted somewhat in recent years. Due to my ever-growing passion for motocross sports, it was clear that after completing school I wanted to work for one of the world's most successful motorcycle manufacturers, which also has its headquarters in Austria. Of course, I was a long way away from the racetrack during my working hours, but the spirit was still very strong in the company. This also left me far from home and I did not mind commuting. However, as my responsibilities increased at KTM, I soon had to admit that I could not give 100% in my job and in my free time. In a nutshell - yes, I'm mostly on the move for my job, and I want it that way.

B: Motocross is not a common profession with many women. How do you perceive the Motocross community in Austria for women? Would you say it is steadily growing?

K: In my opinion, motorsport in Austria is generally a sensitive topic. Due to increasingly narrow-minded environmental requirements, most motocross operators have been forced to abandon their operations. There is no question that nature and the environment must be respected - but I think we should start to maintain it in very different places! An example would be if skiing is done exclusively on natural snow rather than snowing over vast meadows.

I feel that the interest is growing, because the fact that women have the same interests as men, is increasingly accepted and accepted by society. The main thing is to enjoy what you do and besides, we can always prove to men how strong us women really are!

B: Would you say that you had to prove yourself in the early years of your career?

Sure - but don’t we all have to? All the time?

B: What does your training regime look like before a race? How do you prepare mentally?

K: I generally like to work out in the gym and exercise in nature. I prefer to walk or sit on my racing bike. I also love to travel by mountain bike - I just need that as a counterbalance to my everyday office work. For a race, I prepare with a balanced diet and lots of sleep. I also try to avoid stress and to start with a good mood and a lot of motivation!

B: As with any sport, you can injure yourself. Have you ever (or more than once) suffered serious injuries, or were you rather lucky?

K: Unfortunately, I was not always lucky - I've already broken the spoke head on my left arm and a few ribs. Of course, bruises and abrasions weren’t out of the question. My series of injuries was completed at the end of 2017 during an ordinary training in the Czech Republic, where I was overlooked by a driver in a steep passage after a mountain jump. My bike overturned and I tumbled a few meters down the slope. Unfortunately, I hurt my head so hard that I only came too in the hospital after a few hours. My vision center in the brain was damaged which, to be honest, was very scary. My eyes could hardly get used to light for several weeks and I had to go into therapy for a longer period of time. Of course, I could not go about my daily work at this time, which sometimes led me to believe that certain things carry more weight along one’s course in life. For example, your health or a secure job.

B: On that note, Motocross athletes are usually seen as fearless and courageous. But does a superwoman like you sometimes have vulnerable moments?

K: I think my biggest competitor is myself! I constantly try to outgrow myself, but at the same time, I like reaching my limits. In my opinion, that way a person can only become what they’d like to be or would like to be someday.

B: As a fashion business, we are always happy to find out what significance different clothes have for equally different women. How do you feel each time you put on your moto-cross costume?

K: I think, just like every human who wears a "costume", at first, you can not tell what face lays under the helmet. The only thing that matters is what counts - which is the performance on the bike. I find this fact reassuring and of course, I'm proud to wear my name on my jersey and to do my best in what I love the most!

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