Women Criterium Racers Overcome Challenges in Male Dominated Sport

- Hotter'N Hell 2014 wrapped up Sunday afternoon with the final criterium races.

Riders from across the country came to the falls to prove their skills and try and win cash and other prizes.

We went out to one of the races and spoke with women who are trying to make a name for themselves in a male dominated sport.

The women we spoke with say they love competing in cycling races but sometimes being a women in a male dominated sport can get tough.

As the criterium racers speed past the finish line lap after lap focusing on the competition they say they are pedaling for more than just the chance to win.

“There's nothing that beats the feeling of doing what we did, team work and accomplishing especially if you don't win, you just have these bonds that build over time,” says Kim Ciolli and Jenny Park, Criterium Racers.

Park and Ciolli say some of their best friends have been made through cycling and that each team is like a family.

That support comes in handy as their team tries to deal with gender equality issues in the sport.

“I'll have guys tell me to go to back and like cut me off that I’m faster than,” says Sheri Rothe, Criterium Racer.

Rothe says she's had to learn to be more vocal and stand her ground to prove she belongs in the sport.

She says getting over the way she is treated can be tough especially when there are other inequalities to deal with.

“We are discriminated against really badly in forms of pay out and they justify that by saying more men racing, that's true but more women show up whenever we have equal pay out,” says Rothe.

Rothe says the cost to compete and the smaller pay outs keep many women from competing since they still have to pay the same amount for gear and travel.

Gear that would be easier to afford if they could get a sponsor which rothe says can be challenging as well.

“We're getting less sponsorship than the men because we're women and people are less likely to want to sponsor us,” says Rothe.

All three women say they race because they love it and they want to pass on the message that women can be just as tough as men and accomplish just as much even if it comes with a few more challenges.

All three women did say that in the last few years they have seen things get better for female racers and they hope to continue to grow the sport.

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