Team Sports are on the Wane and a new breed of sports is taking their place. Extreme Sports are all about attitude, individuality and, above all, pushing everything to the limit. What are Extreme Sports all about? What is it that gets athletes charged up enough to put their lives at risk? Is it all just a big adrenaline fixation? I don‘t think so. Which is not to say that there isn‘t a quest for an adrenaline charge in extreme sports – there is.
Most athletes, however, who consider themselves to be extreme are not lunatics seeking a buzz no matter what the consequences may be.
They get their adrenal rush because their skills allow them to perform safely under conditions that are dangerous or even life-threatening. They can successfully do things that could kill those unfamiliar with their particular sports because they have dedicated themselves to performing within their limits, even while they have consistently challenged themselves to redefine what those limits are. Extreme sports are about individuality, higher and higher levels of achievement, redefining performance boundaries, and the personal satisfaction that comes from trying your best. Extreme sports deliver a sense of accomplishment, whether you establish a new level of ability or simply challenge yourself while having a great time.
Extreme sports do not generally prohibit you from having fun because of your physical size or build, but they do require for you to be in shape. You can enjoy your sports without the threat of a 300 Euro adversary slamming you to the ground or a competing eight-foot giant keeping you from your goal. What you are pitting yourself against in extreme sports, however, is a much less forgiving opponent, the Earth and its elements – air land and water. To challenge „mother nature“is far more formidable than competing with any individual. There is a level of respect that should be afforded all extreme athletes, whiter they are experts or beginners. As the saying goes, „you have to be a kook sometime“ – translation, you have to start somewhere. None of the extreme sports are easy enough for a first time attempt to be done well, or safely in some cases, without assistance or supervision. Extreme sports are passed down and across from athlete to athlete, and there is a true sense of satisfaction to be gained from introducing a newcomer to your extreme sport of choice.
The extreme sports movement has been quick to embrace the idea of the „crossover“ athlete. Moving over from one extreme sport to another is encouraged. An expert snowboarder may find that mountain biking really turns them on, so they begin to develop their skills on a bike. That some snowboarders may also find that boardsailing is a thrill, and so begins the process of learning to board sail.
The snowboarding, mountain biking, board-sailing athlete may then decide to try kiteboarding, hang gliding, climbing, kayaking, ora any other number of extreme sports. As they build their repertoire of sports, they become better „crossover“ athletes, and each extreme sports by broadening their ideas on how things can be done.
How extreme sports have impacted on each other is really the story of the evolution of extreme sports until today. Some of the sports are very old, like bungee jumping. Some of the sports are more recent, like mountainboarding. Both have elements that can be found in other extreme sports. The thrill of free fall was first found in bungee, but it can be found in windsurfing, snowboarding, skiing, B.A.S.E jumping, etc. The joy of carving a turn on a mountain board is new, but it has its roots in surfing, skateboarding, wake boarding, snowboarding, etc. Extreme sports are about gravity, ingenuity, and technology. Gravity is the force that pulls climbers off rock faces, skiers down slopes and off cliffs, hand gliders toward the ground, and water downstream Gravity makes warm air rise above cold, drivers water to settle at the lowest available spot to create lakes and seas, creates the swirling mass of atmosphere that drives the winds. Gravity shaped our planet.
Ingenuity and technology are responsible for the multitude of ways we have discovered to use the forces of nature to enjoy nature. The evolution of extreme sports is a story of pushing available technologies and designs in order to improve performance. From high-tech fabrics to composite constructions methods to innovations ind design, extreme sports have involved through the years thanks to the energies of many pioneers.
Extreme sports are exciting because they are full of energy and spirit. Of course, they are visually exciting, as the pictures throughout this book amply confirm. Most importantly, extreme sports have a live-affirming quality that stretches from the story of the evolution to the sheer pleasure they offer to those who participate at any level. The world is a big place, with elements that offer plenty of challenges. Enjoy the planet and embrace the sports that celebrate being a part of it- extreme sports!