Archive for June, 2008

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Extreme life falls short of the mark.

June 30, 2008

Thanks to Barbara McMahon of the Guardian for bringing this amusing story of a British man living in Perth, Australia, who put his entire life up for auction on eBay following the break-up of his marriage. He has found that it was not worth as much as he had hoped.

Ian Usher, a 44-year-old salesman, held a seven-day online auction of his home, friends and job. Hoax bids pushed the price beyond A$2m but yesterday an Australian bidder agreed to pay A$399,300 (£192,276), A$100,000 below his target.

Usher, originally from Darlington, Co Durham, insisted yesterday he was “not disappointed” by the outcome.

In the opening hours of the sale 70 bids were registered and the price of his life in Oz stood at A$1.7m (£820,000). “I feel pretty good, shell-shocked really,” he said at the time. “It’s going much better than I’d anticipated.”

Heartbroken after his marriage breakdown two years ago, Usher decided to get rid of everything he owned so that he could start a new life.

The single lot included Usher’s former marital home outside Perth, car and motorbike as well as all the toys necessary to enjoy the Australian lifestyle: a jetski, kite-surfing equipment, a mountain bike and the obligatory barbecue. It also contained a two-week trial run at Usher’s job as a rug shop assistant and an introduction to his friends, offering the successful bidder a ready-made life.

Usher now plans to go travelling with just his wallet, his passport and the clothes on his back: “I’m ready to move on.”

What can we say – going from one extreme to another?!!

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British hospitals more dangerous than extreme sports

June 30, 2008

I picked this up in yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph – an article written by the Telegraph’s health correspondent, Laura Donnelly – three immediate thoughts – don’t get ill in England and have to go to hospital – keep up the vigilance and due diligence and care and attention to detail whilst practicing your extreme sport – and if you have an accident whilst practicing your extreme sport in England and have to go to hospital……well good luck is all I can muster!

Hospital acquired infections or medical errors are more likely to cause death than extreme sports such as high altitude mountaineering and bungee jumping research has found.

The risks from infection, mistakes over drugs and failings in care mean that nearly one in 100 patients admitted to an NHS hospital will die an avoidable death, compared with one in 1,000 of those taking part in dangerous sports.

The findings define health care as a “hazardous activity” for patients and compare it unfavourably with air travel and the nuclear power industry, both of which carry a one in 100,000 risk.

The research, which was compiled by the NHS National Patient Safety Agency and the health care charity, the Health Foundation, reveals that up to 104,000 patients die each year as a result of poor infection management and basic medical errors.

The report was presented at a health managers’ conference in Manchester to mark the start of a new NHS safety campaign. Stephen Ramsden, chief executive of the Luton and Dunstable Hospital Foundation Trust and director of the new campaign, said the aim was to “awaken the consciences” of those NHS managers who had not done enough to make patient safety their priority.

His hospital and 23 others are piloting a scheme intended to cut risk through measures including an “early warning” scoring system to detect the first signs that a patient is deteriorating, and pre-surgery equipment assessment.

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Canadian mountain biking team fear Chinese Olympic pollution

June 30, 2008

The mountain bikers that will wear the Maple Leaf at this summer’s Olympic Games in China are not taking any chances. The four-member team, led by 2004 Olympic silver medallist Marie-Helene Premont of Chateau-Richer, Que., will train in Canada and won’t arrive in Beijing until a few days before their races.

It’s a move veteran racer Seamus McGrath of Millgrove, Ont., supports. He wants to avoid the searing heat and choking pollution expected to swirl around the Laoshan Mountain Bike Course as long as possible. “You can control everything at home,” McGrath said during a telephone conference call Friday. “You can control your diet, you get good sleep, good training. Basically you don’t want to change too much before the Olympic Games. Go with what you know.”

Also named to the team by the Canadian Cycling Association was Catharine Pendrel of Kamloops, B.C., and Geoff Kabush of Victoria. Premont is currently ranked third in the world by the International Cycling Union. The 31-year-old has won a medal at all five World Cup races this season and was fourth at the recent world championships in Italy. Premont may have slipped under the radar heading into Athens but knows she will be on everyone’s screen this year.

Pendrel, 28, has been a consistent top-10 performer on the World Cup the past two seasons. She is currently ranked 12th in the world. She rode the 4.6-kilometre Olympic course at last year’s test event, finishing seventh despite extremely hot and moist conditions

“I think it’s a good course for me,” said Pendrel. “It is very physically demanding. There is absolutely no rest on it. It’s pretty similar terrain to Kamloops, lots of steep climbs, dry, hard-packed soil. I think that will bode even better for the Canadians.”

Kabush, 31, and McGrath, 32, are both international veterans. Kabush won a World Cup bronze medal earlier this season. McGrath was ninth in the Athens Olympics and won a bronze at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in 2006.

Sean O’Donnell, the high performance manager for the Canadian Cycling Association, said both the men and women have podium potential. “We are very excited by these four athletes that are going to Beijing, I think we go into Beijing, on both the women’s and men’s side, with a strong chance of earning at least one medal in each event. It’s a very strong team, an experienced team. I think that bodes well for Canada.”

Many of the riders got their first taste of the air around Beijing at last year’s test event and were not impressed. American rider Adam Craig dropped out of the race, saying the pollution resulted in him “coughing, hacking, spitting up all sorts of gross stuff and feeling nauseous.”

Kabush said you can adapt to the heat but “there is no acclamation to pollution. I think the strategy for a lot of us is just going to be to avoid that as long as possible.”

When the team arrives they will use air filters in their rooms and possibly wear masks while training. To battle the heat, riders will don ice vests to cool their body temperatures before their events and will race dressed in light-weight, breathable clothing. Some Olympic athletes plan to train in countries near China prior to the Games.

The women’s cross country race is August 22 and the men’s race on August 23.

Not quite sure whether the video below will be anything like the course in Bejing but hopefully it will whet your appetite – bring the games on! Thanks to qcguy4 who put this video out on You Tube.

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World Cup snowboarding event in southern hemisphere

June 29, 2008

Here is a brief video from sammienator on YouTube of snow boarding from Cardrona in New Zealand followed by notice of the World Cup snowboarding competition to be held there in September 2008.

Snow Sports New Zealand will again host the FIS World Cup snowboard competition at Cardrona Alpine Ski Resort on September 6-7.

It is the second year in a row Cardrona has secured a stop on the World Cup snowboard circuit, which takes place in 20 venues in 15 countries.

Up to 450 athletes take part in the circuit, with at least 100 expected to attend the New Zealand event, which is the first on the World Cup 2008-09 tour before it heads to South America.

The competition then moves to the northern hemisphere and finishes in Italy in March next year.

Snow Sports NZ will also host an FIS Continental Cup slopestyle event on September 3 at Cardrona.

That competition is one level below World Cup competition and will be the only southern hemisphere slopestyle event at which snowboarders will be able to earn FIS points to improve their world rankings.

It looks as though they will be ready for a great event.

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Kite surfing record discussed and explained

June 29, 2008

OK so I guess you will have all seen Erik Eck’s accidental record when he was swept into the air by a freak thermal in Hawaii which didn’t put him down again onto terra firma for another 39 seconds. Well here is his own account of what happened, what he was thinking and the outcome of that record flight. Thanks to Polyz and YouTube for putting this together.

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Alabama’s answer to mountain biking and rock climbing entusiasts

June 28, 2008

If you are down south and happen to find yourself in need of a little rock climbing or mountain bike riding we are delighted to suggest that you might try out Hurricane Creek Park, located between the Vinemont and Falkville communities in Cullman Park, Alabama.

With rock climbing, hiking trails and a new mountain bike race course, Hurricane Creek Park has evolved into one-stop adventure for outdoor enthusiasts.

While flying a plane over north Alabama, William “Buddy” Rodgers noticed a canyon that sits at the foot of Lacon Mountain — a place he immediately fell in love with. In 1961, Rodgers took a trip to Cullman County to purchase the land he named Hurricane Creek Park. Rodgers ran Hurricane Creek Park for over 40 years as a day-hike picnic area. But in 2003, Rodgers handed the park over the State of Alabama Wildlife and Fisheries — which has handed operation responsibilities over to Cullman Parks and Recreation.

Since taking over operations at Hurricane Creek Park, Cullman Parks and Recreation have upgraded the facilities — creating a natural wildlife habitat with attractions unlike any other state park in Alabama.

“The park has changed a lot since we took it over,” said John Hunt, the parks director. “Right now, there’s not another place like this in the state. You would have to travel a long way to find another park where you can do this stuff. We’re still working on a few things. But there’s still a lot of fun things to do down here.”

When Rodgers ran Hurricane Creek Park, hiking was the main attraction. But now that’s just one of the many things visitors can enjoy.

The park’s newest attraction is its mountain bike race course (MBR) — a series of trails and ramps that are unlike anything else in the southeast. Created by Hurricane Creek Park professional guide John McCrary, the MBR has been constructed at the northern end of the park. Along with the twists and turns of the mountain bike trails that have been cut along the hillside, there is a wooden playground for expert riders at the center of the course.

Built by McCrary, the wooden platform — that is approximately 15-foot tall — gives riders an opportunity to test their skills at narrow bridges, steep ramps and 12-foot jumps. “I still haven’t completed the entire course,” said McCrary, who built the platform, ramps and jumps by hand. “This is kind of my work of art, so I want it to be perfect. To find something like this, you probably have to drive to West Virginia. There’s definitely nothing else like it in Alabama.”

According to McCrary, one of the most popular attractions at Hurricane Creek Park is rock climbing. McCrary is a trained professional with over 18 years of experience in climbing an mountaineering. He teaches climbing to beginners at the park — to both individuals and groups. “Rock climbing is our most popular activity,” McCrary said. “We have different groups come here from all over. Our busiest time is in the fall and spring, but we still have groups come during the summer.”

While rock climbing, mountain biking and hiking are three features adventure enthusiasts would enjoy, Hurricane Creek Park also offers activities for people looking for rest and relaxation. In 2005, Hurricane Creek Park was added as a Site 32 on the North Alabama Birding Trail.

Without doubt, whatever your skill level, this would be a great day out for all the family.

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When You Have Sand and Not Snow – Try Sandboarding

June 28, 2008

Sandboarding is said to be the “latest” board sport following closely in surfing and snowboarding footsteps.

On the popular BBC series, Ski Sunday, Graham Bell and Ed Leigh discussed sandboarding. In fact Ed Leigh gave it a go and was most unimpressed – though a comment on the BBC blog mentioned that perhaps his board hadn’t been waxed satisfactorily.

Here in southern Africa it is looked on as the latest and most fun sport. Although the environmentalists aren’t too sure. They say that people carving up the great dunes in Namibia are doing untold damage to the fragile eco-system and they are trying to bring a stop to the increasing number of boarders – or at best, to at least control the sport.

It is perhaps not true to say that sandboarding is a new sport. Some sources claim that the ancient Egyptians as well as the Chinese were not averse to the idea of sliding down dunes on planks of hardened pottery or wood! Whether this is true or not black and white photographs do exist showing upright sandboarding dating back to the 1940’s.

For the next 20 years enthusiasts used anything they could lay their hands on to ride the dunes – from pieces of cardboard, trays, car hoods, surfboards and even water skies!

By the mid-1970’s sandboarding was gaining in popularity, but snowboarding became the rage and sandboarding was pushed aside for the next 12 years.

However, not entirely – countries that have no snow had a major disadvantage!!! Places like the Mojave Desert in America lacked snow but certainly had plenty of sand and wonderful sand dunes.

Early sandboards were slow and inconsistent performers and to ensure that this fledgling sport survived developers looked to the snowboarding industry for guidance. They helped to such an extent that one could now say that sandboards were developed by the finest snowboard designers!

With the help of the Internet, sandboarders have come together from around the world to share their experiences. People from all parts of America, Australia, New Zealand, Namibia, Egypt, France, Italy, Germany, Hungary, Holland, Belgium, England, Japan, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Canada, and South Africa.