This can be a difficult term to define and many of the outdoor sports activities on this website certainly have an extreme element to them. A good definition put forward in a study by Eric Brymer,(2006) referred to 'true' extreme sports as a leisure or recreation activity where the most likely outcome of a mismanaged accident or mistake was death.
This section of the website contains the extreme sports which have not already been covered under the other main headings. These include sky diving, bungee jumping,base jumping, paragliding and free running (a fairly new sport seen
in the opening chase scene of the James Bond movie - Casino Royal)
Click on the pictures above for some excellent videos
Listings for Extreme Sports
It started as gliding down hills on low performance kites, but now pilots can stay airborne for hours, reach altitudes of several thousand feet and reach speeds of over one hundred kilometres per hour. To glide in this way the pilot must find rising air masses. The most common source of lift are thermals where the warm air, heated by warm land mass, raises upwards. There are other types of lift near mountains, hills and cliffs where the wind is deflected upwards. These wind currents and thermals are often unpredictable and this can make the sport dangerous. This is where training is so important, not only to learn how to fly but to understand the weather and know when to stop flying.
Paragliding (categorised as ascending parachutes) is closely related to hang gliding but is slower and therefore easier to launch and fly in light wind conditions. Minimum fly speed is 20km per hour and maximum is 65km per hr.
The wing span is 8-12m and the shape of the wing is formed by the pressure of the air. Below the wing is a web of lines which are attached to straps fixed to the bucket seat harness. The harness usually holds a reserve parachute for emergency situations.
The controls are in the pilots hands and are used to turn and control the speed. Rising air is needed to keep the wing aloft and as with hang gliding can be found in thermals or ridge lift. Pilots must contend with strong turbulence when entering a strong thermal. This can even result in wing collapse, something which a modern wing should recover from by itself. Once inside the thermal the ride becomes smoother!
Bungee Jumping is the sport of leaping off tall structures while connected to a thick rubber band. There is not only the trill of the free-fall but the the jumper flies upwards as cord rebounds. Maybe this is not an extreme sport as the skill is down to the knowledge of the commercial operator setting up the equipment correctly and for most who participate it is just a one off thrill
WHITE WATER RIVER BOARDING
This is a relatively new sport using very buoyant boards with handles. They are manouvered down the white water with the help of fins to keep out of harms way. Quick thinking is essential! The rider wears
wetsuits,life jacket,gloves,helmet and kneepads to protect against the rocks and the cold.
SKY DIVING AND PARACHUTING
Parachuting is not as dangerous as one might expect and there are less than one fatality per 150,000 thousand jumps. These are rarely due to equipment failure but are often caused by badly executed radical moves too close to the ground.
Although many people do a jump for charity just learning the basics, the complex skills can take thousands of jumps to master. The basics include safety, free fall manouvers, parachute operation and how to land. The first jump can be a tandem jump where you are attached to your instructor.
Jumps can be from balloons or helicopters but are usually from aircraft. A typical jump is freefalling from 4000m with the parachute opening at 2500m. It must be the nearest thing to flying like a bird that a man is likely to experience.
Surprisingly sky divers do not normally feel a fall sensation. Once they reach terminal velocity anything between 120 and 200 mph they no longer are accelerating so don't feel as though they are falling.
BASE jumping is without doubt an extreme sport which uses a parachute to jump from a fixed position. There are 4 categories of fixed object -
Antenna (an uninhabited tower such as an aerial mast),
Span (a bridge, arch or dome),
Earth (a cliff or other natural formation)
- hence the name.
For Base jumping the parachutes are designed to open more quickly and at lower airspeeeds than normal parachutes. There is no reserve parachute as there would be no time to use it. A freefall from 150m takes just 5.6seconds. At the other end of the scale there have been jumps from peaks and cliff which are over 6000metres high.
FREE RUNNING & PARKOUR
Whereas most of the sports on this website are looking at sports where man pits his wits against nature, Free Running and Parkour are usually practised in the urban environment.
Participants jump, vault and summersault over obstacles in their way with acrobatic fluid movements.
Most important are good jumping and landing
Although the two terms - free running and parkour, are often interchangable, there is a difference between the two disciplines. A Parkour Traceur (person who does Parkour) will get from point A to point B in the quickest most fluid way possible whereas the Free Runner will do it as stylishly as possible adding more acrobatic moves. These will including tricking which can be thought of as martial arts power tumbling.
Although not originally thought of as an extreme sport there are now those who practice in situations where a badly executed move could result in serious injury or death.
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