Archive for March, 2008

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First for BMX in Beijing

March 31, 2008

BMX, is the newest Olympic sport. The International Olympic Committee voted in 2003 to approve its debut in the 2008 Games this August.
With the Olympic tag comes increased stakes, visibility, and – those in the sport hope – legitimacy.
“We’ve seen the sport elevate to the highest form of racing,” said Mike King, USA cycling’s director of BMX programs. “I hope the Olympics can do for BMX what it did for snowboarding. It’s what the sport needs to grow.”
The Games continue to venture into newfangled, extreme sports to attract a younger audience. The Olympic form of BMX is called supercross. The track in Beijing features a two-story drop at the starting hill, and riders reach speeds of 40 mph at the bottom. Along the dirt track are banked turns, jumps that can launch riders 40 feet through the air and rhythm sections.As many as eight riders at a time go through several heats, or motos, on bikes with 20-inch wheels. Races are one-lap sprints, which rarely last
more than 40 seconds.
The three times world BMX champion Kyle Bennett from Conroe, Texas said “I would say supercross tracks are extreme, I definitely get scared. But you adapt.”

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Japanese girl missing

March 25, 2008

Search and rescue crews masterminded by the RCMP in Whistler, British Colombia were still out looking for a Japanese girl who was snowboarding in the area and has not been seen since March 2oth. Helicopters and dog handling crews have been assisting them with the search. Ai Ito was last seen taking the Seventh Heaven chairlift on Blackcomb Mountain but with temperatures falling sub zero at night the police are saying little about the prospects of a happy ending to this story.



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Experienced sky diver in fatal fall

March 25, 2008

Wes Harberts , a resident of South Lake Tahoe, California, died yesterday afternoon whilst sky diving after his parachute failed to open. The experienced sky diver, who had more than 8,000 jumps to his name, attempted to deploy his parachute which failed to open and he spiralled to the ground and he was pronounced dead at the scene. Police are investigating the accident but no criminal activity is suspected.

The United States Parachute Association, or USPA, reports an average of 30 skydiving deaths per year out of more than two million safe jumps.Accidents like this are extremely rare, especially when the diver is as experienced as Harberts was.

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Extreme sport accessible to the handicapped

March 20, 2008

I have come across two recent examples of how handicapped individuals are participating in extreme sports. They are inspiring stories and just goes to show us all that no door should be closed to anyone.

Learning to scuba dive has given Michael Cunnane a new lease of life.Michael is deaf and so has a head start when it comes to making himself understood in the deep.To get this far, however, Michael has had to overcome difficulties with communication.He has been teaching members of the BSAC North diving group in Gloucester, England a basic sign language so they can communicate with him underwater and teach him the new skill. “I’m excited just to think that there are so many big fish to see and old underwater wrecks to explore all over the world in my lifetime.”

Way to go Michael and now read on to hear what Jeremy Schmidt has had to contend with after he went blind at the age of 27. About a year ago, a rare genetic disease deteriorated his optic nerves, keeping his eyes healthy but killing the connection to his brain. In less than a month, he went from having 20/20 vision to not being able to spot an eye chart in a doctor’s office.

Jeremy was not going to give up and with a little encouragement from his father he donned his boots and ruck sack and in his right hand he had something other hikers don’t: a red-and-white cane with a rolling ball at the tip. Continuously swinging his arm left and right, he knocks the cane into rocks, plants, and boulders, helping him ‘feel’ his way forward.Since Jeremy went blind, he has continued to go horseback riding, skiing and rock climbing.

“I didn’t think my whole life was over,” Jeremy said. “Not by far. It just meant it was going to be one heck of a challenge.”

This is the kind of spirit i have so much respect for, it is extreme and it is inspirational – the impossible does not exist.

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Jim Carrey bounces back

March 20, 2008

The actor/comedian Jim Carrey took the plunge of his life last month whilst filming his latest movie ‘Yes Man’ which will be released in December this year.

Carrey jumped off the Arroyo Seco Bridge in Pasadena, California. Asked what went through his mind as he fell through the air Carrey reported: ‘there is no mind involved, it was just a total release, a total like, ‘Well, okay, I’ve had a good life.’ It’s kind of that. I stopped, went, ‘Okay, let’s do this.’ Your mind kind of detaches. I don’t know. It’s just so intense you can’t describe it.”

How often have you ever seen this guy at a loss for words? Well when its so extreme it is understandable, we know exactly what he means.

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Sci fi legend dies

March 20, 2008

Perhaps not the most usual subject to talk about on an extreme sport blog but did you know that the sci-fi authority Arthur C. Clark, who died last week in his adopted home in Sri Lanka, was also an extreme sports enthusiast. I quote ‘The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible’.

Clarke’s vision of a time when people, subconsciously feeling their own impending obsolescence, devote their lives to such self-gratifications as hang gliding, eco-tourism, and recreational mountain climbing has unfortunately already dawned: consider Mount Everest, where trash left by tourists who climb it each year has become a problem.

Clarke, who had battled debilitating post-polio syndrome since the 1960s and sometimes used a wheelchair, discovered that scuba-diving approximated the feeling of weightlessness that astronauts experience in space. He remained a diving enthusiast, running his own scuba venture into old age.

Another sad loss for those of us who are prepared to go the extra mile although i’m not sure we extremists could be equated with self gratification????

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Kite Quandary

March 20, 2008

Aberavon Beach in Wales has a kite problem.

Councillor Andrew Tutton fears that there could be a deadly collision between kite surfers and other beach users – he means people walking along the beach.

I must say this has never occurred to me before although I suppose it is a possibility. Tutton believes it’s “an accident waiting to happen.”

Apparently, between 1st – 7th March, 3 men were blown by strong winds out of the designated kite area. They themselves were injured but what worries Tutton is that by being blown into an undesignated zone the long cables of the kites could catch someone enjoying a stroll on the beach and “could take their heads off.” Although he qualifies the statement by saying “it’s wonderful to see people using the beach – that’s what it’s there for, but the latest incidents happened in a part of the beach where kite surfers shouldn’t be.”

However, he does follow this up by saying that an outright ban, as has happened on other beaches across the UK, is not the answer.

(Hurrah for that!)

“We want to encourage young people to get into sport and keep them out of trouble, but without putting other people at danger,” he said.

Russell Ward, head of lifelong learning, culture and leisure has been discussing this with BKSA (British Kite Surfing Association) and says that “we have identified a section of Aberavon Beach that is most appropriate for kite surfing. As with all extreme sports we would recommend that enthusiasts seek appropriate advice on where it is safe to enjoy their hobby, stay within the areas that have been designated for the sport and, recognising the inherent dangers of kite surfing, that they wear appropriate safety clothing.”

Well, there you have it. You are still ‘safe’ to kite surf on Aberavon Beach, but please abide by the rules. It seems that the noose is tightening around our necks and our percepted freedom of the waters is becoming more elusive.

However, it is down to us to be the courteous ones. Rather like snowboarders and skiers – the snowboarders are the hoods and the skiers the gentlemen … you know that one?! Well, let us, the kitesurfers, be the gentlemen of the seas so that more and more beaches don’t become restricted to us.

If you behave with good manners you are likely to receive respect. If you respect others then the respect is mutual. We don’t want to become the pariah of the waters, do we?