Sarah Lezito is considered the best stuntwoman in the world. She was Scarlett Johansson’s double in the motorcycling scenes in The Avengers 2 and left countless guys behind her at the stunt riding world championships. Now, the Frenchwoman is part of the BMW Motorrad community.
Sarah Lezito’s travel to work is short. The 24-year-old rides down the Rue de Champagne through Épernay, passing gourmet restaurants and classy wineries. Moët & Chandon and countless other noble houses are headquartered here in Champagne, home of the French luxury drop. A short while later, Sarah reaches an empty parking space. This is her workplace. Her working hours are flexible, she has no colleagues. Instead of parking, Sarah accelerates.
She crosses the entire parking, turns around and comes back on the rear wheel. Change to the front wheel, stoppie, one-eighty. Sarah accelerates for another wheelie, jumps onto the seat bench and puts her legs over the handlebars. For ten minutes, she makes anyone watching dizzy with her riding, and this is only the warm-up. The motorcycle dances under Sarah in sync like a horse. However, her steed has 159 more horsepower. She comes here every day, to “her” car park. The police know her and so do the residents. This is where the tricks of the best stuntwoman in the world come about.
Wheelies in the vineyards
Sarah Lezito’s father hardly ever saw his quad as 13-year-old Sarah was practising wheelies the whole time.
Only the surrounding region can top the romanticism of the small French town of Épernay. Vines nestle in the gentle hills, framing small villages with Romanesque church towers. In one of these villages, Sarah Vignot grows up as the daughter of a winegrower. One of Sarah’s two big sisters calls her Zito, which is where her nickname le Zito and later her stage name Lezito comes from. Her father has a quad for the work in the vineyards. But he rarely ever sees it. Because 13-year-old Sarah is on it, meeting friends and practising wheelies. “I rode it almost every day and trained like mad. Of course, the quad didn’t stay completely sound and I had to come up with excuses at home”, Sarah recalls. “When I eventually came out with the truth, my parents didn’t really know what to think. But with time, they just got used to it.” She laughs.
Sarah considered treading in the footsteps of her father. Then she got more and more stunt riding offers and motorcycling became her profession.
The range of tricks with the quad is soon exhausted and Sarah still hasn’t had enough. Her ambition is infinitely greater than that of her friends. At the age of 16, she gets a 125 cc. With the bike, a great deal more becomes possible and Sarah learns quickly. The village has long since become too small. She now meets with like-minded souls from all over France and trains with them at weekends. During the week, she goes to school; later, she studies viticulture for two years. She enjoys it and considers treading in the footsteps of her father. Then she gets more and more stunt riding offers and motorcycling becomes her profession. For Sarah, a whole new chapter begins. “My friends and I would never have expected that this would one day become my job. Stunt riding is still fun for me – just at a different level.”
Wheelies, stoppies, burnouts: Sarah Lezito brings her tricks to perfection.
The stunt riding profession is itself considered extraordinary. But it is even more unusual for a woman to practice this profession. “Stuntwoman? Will we see you at the cinema?”, people often enquire. They are curious and have many questions. Sarah is happy to answer them. She talks about her roles as a double in film sequences, about contests, championships and shows. There isn’t a separate category for girls. Sarah usually goes head to head against boys. “Men do have more power and a strong expression when riding. So I defined my own style: I focus on balance and smoothness.” This makes Sarah’s show look like an acrobatic dance: graceful, powerful and determined all at the same time. A dance over asphalt, on the street – street dance. With wheelies, stoppies, drifts, burnouts and acrobatics.
Sarah’s show looks like an acrobatic dance: graceful, powerful and determined all at the same time.
“I try to follow through on my style and bring tricks to perfection.” She doesn’t want to take too much of a risk. She considers incremental growth and consistent improvement to be the key to success – especially because she already had a serious knee injury in the past. “In October 2015, I tore my ACL in a crash. I didn’t go to the doctor until four months later. Since I didn’t want to miss the 2016 season, we postponed the operation until autumn. That was a mistake, because the unstable knee made me lose confidence in my body and somehow the season was lost as well.” Sarah trains hard and fights herself back. In 2017, she wants to put the pedal to the metal with the S 1000 R.
Shy or show
In the beginning, Sarah’s biggest challenge was her stage-fright.
Are stunts on a motorcycle difficult? Definitely. But Sarah has no difficulties with this. Her passion appears to know no bounds. There is no such thing as giving up. However, what challenges her tremendously, is the spotlight. “I have always been shy and never particularly talkative.” The pressure is enormous in the beginning – particularly because Sarah always wants to put on a good show and do everything perfectly. “I was stressed because all eyes were on me. The stress caused me problems with my arms. After riding for two minutes I was blocked”, she recalls. The stage-fright had such an effect on her that her friends hardly recognised her. “I had to work hard on myself in order to get a handle on my nervousness and at the same time become more open to people. As a girl from the countryside, I found this difficult.”
No room for shyness anymore. Sarah has chosen the show.
In 2013, Sarah takes part in the stunt riding world championships in Poland for the first time. Two years later, she achieves her greatest success there. She is the only girl among 75 riders and finishes up in ninth place. “This was unbelievable and felt like a victory. The guys who were ranked higher than me were completely mad! I will never have their skills. But the spectators probably remember that girl even if they don’t know my name.” Yet there are enough people who remember her name: with more than 2.5 million fans on Facebook, Sarah Lezito is almost as famous as stunt riding itself. She gives her followers insights into her everyday training: photos and videos that she produces together with friends. There is no room for shyness anymore. Sarah has chosen the show.
On the world stage
As Scarlett Johansson’s stunt double, Sarah rode the motorcycle scenes in the Marvel blockbuster The Avengers 2.
Word of Sarah Lezito’s talent makes it all the way to Hollywood. She is requested for the Marvel blockbuster The Avengers 2. As Scarlett Johansson’s stunt double, she rides the motorcycle scenes in the film. “It was my first film job and such a big one straight away. I am very proud of this”, Sarah says enthusiastically. “It was a crazy experience. There were so many talented people on the set – stuntmen for fighting scenes, for riding or swimming.” In 2016, she pilots a BMW R 1200 RT in the thriller Inferno. With the jobs as a stunt double, contests, shows and shootings, Sarah has meanwhile been all over the world. She is often only at home for a few days before she has to leave again. “Sometimes I miss the quiet life at home. But as soon as I have been at home for too long, I miss travelling.”
“On the bike, we stunt riders are serious and concentrated, but the rest is fun – and freestyle”, Sarah Lezito says.
But whenever Sarah takes a break, she enjoys the time at home. “Sleep, good food and outdoor sport are important to me. This is the best way for me to recover. I have learnt a lot about nutrition and believe that a healthy lifestyle will bring me further.” Sarah doesn’t really have a proper training schedule. “I get up and see how I feel. I listen to my body.” Despite all professionalism, Sarah finds it important that fun continues to be in focus. “Unlike many other sports, there is not so much of a competitive struggle with stunt riding. We riders are more like a family. On the bike, we are serious and concentrated, but the rest is fun – and freestyle.”