In an extreme sports hall of fame, who’s pushing the boundaries?
In sports, if you think it has all been done before you have two choices: You can do it faster and better; or you can turn it upside down, twist it inside out, and innovate. Extreme sports do the latter. They are sports, radicalised. Turbocharged. Adrenalised. And with little, or no compromise.
Even still, these sports have their pioneers. We have picked five sports that take it to the edge, and people in each who are pushing back the limits of what is considered physically possible.
Extreme Sports Hall of Fame
Why do they do it? It’s simple: There are no boundaries. Be inspired; nominate your extreme sports innovator in the comments.
Snowboarding / Skateboarding
Shaun White: Olympic Gold medallist, has his own snowboarding halfpipe, pushes out new tricks while others sleep. Pro aged just 13, ‘Future Boy’ was totally dominant at Winter X Games. Top trick: Double McTwist 1260/ The Tomahawk. He’s also a very good skateboarder.
Parkour / Free Running
Johnny Sticky Budden: While not the most famous of Parkour’s poster boys, ‘Sticky’ is in the ascendancy, thanks mostly to his outrageous attempt to run Parkour from John O’ Groats in Scotland, to Paris! An outrageous feat of endurance that started with a 100-mile ultramarathon.
If you doubt such folly, check out his website – this guy’s for real, he’s sincere, he’s doing it all for charity, and he’s still running free as we speak…
Free Solo (Climbing)
Free, as in no ropes. Climbing fans have long been aware of climbers such as Dean Potter. To take on the Eiger is hard enough, but with no ropes: exceptional.
Did I forget to mention he has pioneered ‘FreeBASE climbing’? With a parachute he designed himself, Dean now can climb to his heart’s content, because when he feels like it, he can chuck himself off the mountain, relying on his homemade chute to save him. Mental, yet brilliant.
Update: Unfortunately Dean Potter passed away in 2015 during a stunt that went wrong.
Freefall / Skydiving
Felix Baumgartner, probably a touch more extreme than the rest. Famed for his bat suit daredevilry, which fairly soon could take him to the edge of space and a 120,000ft drop. His latest jumpsuit is a spacesuit. Stuntman ‘Fearless Felix’, ignoring the slightly naff nickname, is pushing the boundaries.
He’s also hoping to break the sound barrier on re-entry. When not jumping from balloons with a cloud in one pocket and a star in the other, Felix likes to relax by climbing, boxing, flying helicopters, rallying and riding motocross – I kid ye not, this guy is for real.
No diving boards, just down, down, down. Freediving is diving without oxygen and records are set by diving as deep, or as far, or for as long as possible. Tanya Streeter holds two World records. Pushing her body to its physical extreme, Tanya can hold her breath for five-and-a-half minutes and dive to 160 metres.
Not only does she turn blue in the process, she can operate on oxygen levels usually only found in animals! She has broken the World record ten times, and even though retired, she is far from finished.
If you know of any sports person worthy of our Extreme Sports Hall of Fame, nominate away in the comments.
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