Posts Tagged ‘France’


And now for polo on a cycle

May 22, 2009

We trust no one will be upset by cycle polo which from our research would appear to be gathering an increasing number of players, supporters and countries that play the game. Having said that we have not been able to find anything about the 2009 tournaments and so we would be delighted to hear from enthusiasts of the sport of what is happening, when and where, so we can post a blog and keep people informed.

Traditional bicycle polo is played in a rectangular grass field, 150 meters by 100 meters officially, unofficially whatever field is big enough or whatever surface is smooth enough. Moreover, official dimensions can vary between 120 and 150 meters in length on 80 to 100 meters in width.

The game was invented by an Irishman, Richard J. Mecredy, in 1891 and has seen a sharp spike in interest since the turn of this century and new teams are sprouting up across the world.

Today there is organized cycle polo being played in Argentina, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, India, Ireland, Malaysia, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland and USA.

The 1980s saw the rise of two new powers in cycle polo, India and USA. The Cycle Polo Association of India was officially created in 1966 and the Bicycle Polo Association of America was created in 1994.

International cycle polo matches staged a comeback in the 1990s with the first world championship organized in 1996 in the USA. Teams from India, USA and Canada participated with India winning the title.

Today the game has become more urban and is played on tennis courts and the like where a hard surface presents a fast and exciting game.

See the video below from cleancut62 of some action from a recent game which demonstrates there is more than just a little skill in riding a bike required – the crashes are pretty hard but it looks a lot of fun.

The final installment of this trilogy will be about Segway polo….stay tuned!


Time to dust off your mountain bike

April 16, 2009

As we move into mid April it is time to be thinking of putting away the skis and snowboards and at the same time dusting off the mountain bike. A little time spent at this time of year ensuring you have the right kit will help you to avoid disappointment when you get a sudden call from a mate to go out to the mountains only to find you never had the brake fixed on your bike. So here are a few reminders.

Body protection and your helmet

You may well have grown an inch or so since last year so it is as well to check out the kit you wear. 

The single most important item of personal clothing for downhill mountain biking your helmet –  ensure you always wear a helmet to protect your head against accidental falls. It is not enough to assume that you are talented and very competent to perform downhill mountain biking because safety is a very important issue as well. On no account must you put your life in peril and so wearing a helmet at all times is the best downhill mountain biking tips that you can get. 

Other kit will include shoes, gloves and knee and elbow protectors – again you will have probably grown and there is nothing more uncomfortable than forcing your feet into a pair of shoes half a size too small. We also recommend that you take a light weight back pack – so important for carrying that Mars Bar or other essential sustenance which is so appreciated after an hours biking. We also recommend you ensure your body is well hydrated whilst mountain biking so take along enough liquids and water to ensure that you don’t get thirsty.

Your bike

Maybe Santa crammed a brand new mountain bike down the chimney but whatever the situation and this applies to new bikes as well it is very well worth your while giving your bike the once over. Check nothing is loose, the saddle, the handle bars, the chain – check the brakes are working properly and the gears are sliding from one to another in the right manner. Oil the chain, check the pedals, make sure the tyres are in good order and you have no punctures, check the tyre pressure. Nothing too onerous here – just some basic common sense.

Where to go

It pays to search for relevant downhill mountain biking tips. One place where you can find useful downhill mountain biking tips of where to go is through online sources and via mountain biking forums. We also suggest (if you are not already) that you become a member of a downhill mountain biking club. Never be afraid of asking a question: mountain bikers are on the whole a friendly crowd and always willing to share their tips and experiences

So get ready for what will be a wonderful summer of mountain biking and we thought you would like to see the video below from XTremeVideo of some great action shot in South Africa, Andorra, Spain, the UK , France and Italy.

Ok so that was rather extreme, but that is what we are all about – whatever you skill levels we hope you have a great time.


Speed Riding – an extreme where Europe outranks the Americans

March 10, 2009

This is an extreme sport we have blogged about before but we feel has not been given enough column inches, enough exposure – we are talking about speed riding. It is young – only conceived in 2003 and it is therefore still very young. You can take off from 9,000 feet above sea level and be on the valley floor in less than five minutes. It is fast – very fast – furious and will give you a rush like you have never experienced.

It is also exclusive – born in Europe, more specifically France – it is Europe which far outranks the United States in numbers of participants. Europe affords the space of where to go which you will find is more restricted in the US – whereas up to 4,000 can be found practicing the sport in Europe the numbers in the United States are only a few hundred.

Further more it is claimed to be safer than a number of other pastimes but in the same breath it is also said to be safe – see what you think in the video below from r1g2b3 which shows action from……….well the Eiger of course, where else would you go for a buzz after lunch on a quiet Sunday afternoon!

A combination between paragliding and skiing we went in search of some info for you and were rather chuffed to find that Wikipedia did not have an entry for speed riding (at least not in the top 10 of our Google search!). It was to the where we turned and found this article by Mike Peake.

‘There are few extreme sports to which you could realistically ask for a gentle introduction. ……but speed riding, which is best described as falling down a mountain with grace, is one adrenalin rush that your grandfather could experience and hope to live to tell the tale.

Not that this new French addition to the thrill-seeker’s repertoire isn’t dangerous: hurtling down a snow-covered mountain at 60mph can only be risk-free when you’re at the controls of a Wii console. But this bizarre fusion of skiing and flying comes with an incredible get-out-of-jail-free card that has given it a safety record that’s hard to beat. When you see a rock, tree or Prince Charles and his entourage on the slopes ahead of you, all you have to do is yank on a cord and the paragliding canopy above your head will hoist you straight up and out of the danger zone.

“Base jumping is so extreme that there are no margins,” says 35-year-old François Bon, one of the paragliders who invented the sport at the end of 2003. “You have to be 100 per cent precise and base jumping is little more than a cascade. Speed riding is something that you can learn, slowly. It’s not something you have to throw yourself off the top of a mountain to try out.”

Designated speed-riding slopes and classes started springing up on the Alps three winters ago and since then hundreds of people have been certified as bona fide speed-riders (or speed fliers, as they are sometimes called) by the French Paragliding Federation. There are between 3,000 and 4,000 speed-riders worldwide and the sport has found friends in America, Japan, Scandinavia and New Zealand, although Bon insists its home is on the slopes of Les Arcs in the French Alps, where it was first conceived.

“When we started many skydivers and paragliders wanted to try it,” he says, “but now it’s mostly skiers. They’re not used to flying or using canopies, but that’s no problem because it’s better to be a good skier than a good flier. The rest you can learn.”

An adventurous speed-rider is looking for height, good snow and an exciting descent and the hardcore elite hire helicopters to drop them in places that would otherwise require a week off work. Kit consists of a pair of skis, helmet, goggles and a specially-designed canopy that is closely related to the traditional paragliding rig.

The idea of following the contours of a mountain while paragliding isn’t new: paragliders have been skimming mountain tops for years, sometimes with tragic results. But once Bon and his friends latched on to the idea of doing it with skis over more fall-friendly snow, they were onto a winner.

“We knew that the chance to fly fast and close to the snow would be very exciting,” says Bon, a paragliding test-pilot and former member of the French national team. “So we started to play with some existing canopies that we modified. By 2005 we were designing products specially.”

With just one fatality and a smashed back to date, speed riding is proving insurable and a surprisingly low-risk “danger” sport. “When you see our videos on YouTube, it looks pretty intense,” he says, accurately describing footage of one of his own hair-raising descents of the Eiger. “You’ll see that we’re going very fast and that there’s lots of flying, but when you start out there’s a lot more snow than air.”

But just like every sport, speed riding does have its golden rule. “It’s all about controlling your speed,” says Bon. “To run out of speed makes the glider fall down. You don’t want to be on a big slope and totally reliant on your skis if there are cliffs and the risk of avalanche. I’m only happy when I can see that canopy above me.” ‘

So where do you go if you want to give it a go and what do you need:

  • probably a very good idea about how to ski to a proficient level
  • equipment will be provided by your instructors
  • training essential
  • in Europe try
  • in the US try ………..uh – we cannot find a teacher – now there’s an opportunity

Now watch this totally crazy footage from nimpO of Antoine Montant – another Frenchman – speedriding his way out of the path of an avalanche that would have swept all else before it – awesome.

… yet another thing you can do with a kite!


The Doug Coombs story

February 14, 2009

This blog would not be complete without the Doug Coombs story – he was, is and always will be, a legend in his chosen persuit – freeskiing.

Coombs was one of the true pioneers of Extreme Skiing, he found his ski legs in backcountry stomping ground of Jackson Hole. After becoming a heli-ski guide in Wyoming, he was crowned World Extreme Champion in 1991 in Valdez, Alaska. His experiences there led him to return to set up Valdez Heli-Ski Guides with his wife Emily, an operation that became one of the catalysts for the rapid progression of what became the freeskiing scene.

Below is part 1 of JakeCastDotCom’s video tributes to Doug Coombs.

Original reports of his death in April 2006 suggested that a small slab slide may have taken Coombs and a friend over the edge. Subsequent accounts said Coombs was skiing at the end of the day with three friends. The group were descending a very steep couloir (possibly Couloir de Polichinelle) in the Freaux sector.

One of the four, Chad Vanderham, a La Grave regular from Colorado, began skiing down, while Coombs and the others watched from above. He apparently hit a patch with an ice layer underneath and fell in what was described as a definite “no-fall” zone. The Coloradoan reportedly washed over a cliff and disappeared from view.

Coombs is said to have wanted to get a rope in order to check on his fallen friend’s condition. While assessing the situation, Coombs also fell. Both men went over what was reported to be an 200m cliff. The remaining two skiers in the party then called for a heli rescue.

When the helicopter arrived some 20 to 30 minutes later, Doug Coombs was already dead. Vanderham was still breathing, but unfortunately died later in the hospital.

In part 2 of JakeCastDotCom’s tribute video he comments:

 ‘”It was once said the best skier is the one having the most fun. Based on this criteria, Doug Coombs was the best skier in the world, no question.”

Douglas Coombs was born in Boston and grew up skiing in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. He went to Montana State University in Bozeman, where he began steep-skiing at Bridger Bowl.

Steeps are slopes with a pitch of more than 45 degrees. Extreme skiing is done on mountains where there are no lifts, no trails, no boundaries and no ski patrols. Skiers ascend peaks in helicopters or climb them on foot before making their runs.

Over the years, he was the first person to descend on some 250 slopes in Antarctica, Chile, France, Switzerland, Kyrgyzstan, Alaska and elsewhere in the United States. He appeared in several documentary films about the sport.

Although Coombs performed feats of remarkable daring, he did not take unreasonable risks, his colleagues said.

“Doug did things that were very extreme and cutting-edge, but he did them safely and had an excellent safety record,” said Scott Raynor.

With his wife Emily, Coombs pioneered the first descents in the formidable Chugach range in Alaska. “We were infatuated with the Chugach terrain,” he wrote on his Web site.

He and his wife started a business there, Valdez Heli-Ski Guides. Within five years, he said, they were guiding as many as 1,000 skiers a year. They sold the company to Raynor in 2001.

In 1993, the couple founded the Steep Skiing Camps Worldwide in Jackson, Wyo., and they moved the business to Europe in 1997, setting up operations in La Grave and in Verbier, Switzerland. The couple said Europe offered fewer constraints on what skiers were permitted to do.

“When I first arrived at La Grave,” he wrote, “and stared at the majestic glaciated peak of La Meije [13,065 feet], I imagined endless ski runs that would last a lifetime.”

They were prophetic words and all we can add is from Doug’s wife Emily who said:

“You know, the mountains are full of dangers, and they swallow you up. But mostly, they give.”


US women on top of the world

February 10, 2009

The US women won first second and third podium finishes at the FIS World Cup halfpipe snowboarding competition held in Italy over the weekend. Thanks to for bringing us this story.

The women of U.S. Snowboarding swept the podium of a World Cup halfpipe contest in Italy on Saturday with Kelly Clark (Mt. Snow, VT) in first, Hannah Teter (Belmont, VT) in second and Gretchen Bleiler (Aspen, CO) in third.

“For me personally it’s a good feeling to win where I was defeated three years ago,” Clark said. “Hannah was riding very strong but I just did my run as I wanted it. I’m glad that I won this great event and that the U.S. took one, two and three.”

Clark last competed in Bardonecchia when she placed fourth trying to defend her Olympic gold medal during the 2006 Games in Torino. Now, while it’s not the Olympics, Clark feels redemption.

“When we talked to her after the podium she said, ‘I got my rebate from Bardonecchia,’ because in 2006 she wanted more than anything to be standing on top of that podium,” U.S. Snowboarding Halfpipe Head Coach Mike Jankowski said. “While it’s not an Olympic medal, it’s a hard-fought win for Kelly.”

Clark put together a frontside air, backside 5, frontside 7, cab 7 and frontside 5 for the win at the former Olympic venue, which had challenging conditions due to record snowfall.

“Bardonecchia has the most snow they’ve had in about 50 years and we got here and the pipe was challenging. We had just come from some great competitions and we showed up to a smaller pipe and challenging conditions,” Jankowski said. “We knew there was only one way to go and that was up. So, we said every day it’s going to get better. We pushed our way through semi finals and got our way through to finals.”

In all, Jankowski was very pleased with how the women swept the podium.

The ladies had an absolutely stellar day. I think, obviously, things really went our way,” Jankowski said. “The pipe was in great shape today. I think there were some memories from 2006 going through some of the ladies’ heads and they were able to dig deep, be themselves and they were able to come out on top.”

In the men’s field, it was France’s Mathieu Crepel who earned the best score with 47.0 points, winning today’s World Cup ahead of second ranked Nathan Johnstone (43.5) from Australia and Swiss rider Iouri Podladtchikov (42.8).

Crepel missed the 2006 Olympic finals by placing 17th, although “this dates way back. But I have learned what I had to learn from this. Today, it was a new contest.”

The 24-year old impressed in the second run of the finals with a brilliant finish. Crepel started with a Frontside 1080 into a Cab 1080, followed by a Frontside Air as well as a Backside 540, just to finish his run with a Frontside 1260 as smooth as his other tricks.

“After the other riders had attacked in run two I had to step it up, too. And I did it. I’m super stoked. I wanted to give my best, especially as all the fans had cheered so much.”

Steve Fisher (Breckenridge, CO), who was first in qualifications Friday, finished seventh for the best result from the U.S. men.

According to Jankowski, getting in some competition time against an international field can only benefit the men.

“The international field is super strong right now and it’s good for us to get out there and ride against those best riders in the world,” Jankowski said.

Now, the riders move to Cypress Mountain just outside of Vancouver where they will compete in a World Cup at the 2010 Olympic venue. But, the fact that a year from now they will be competing on the world’s stage at Cypress doesn’t phase the athletes.

“We just take it one pipe at a time and we’re definitely not getting ahead of ourselves,” Jankowski said. “As long as the pipe is in good shape, whether it’s a Revolution Tour, a Grand Prix or the Olympics, we go there to win and I expect our athletes to push hard for the win.”

Bardonecchia, Italy – Feb. 7, 2009

1. Mathieu Crepel, France, 47.0
2. Nathan Johnstone, Austria, 43.5
3. Iouri Podladtchikov, Switzerland, 42.8
4. Christian Haller, Switzerland, 42.5
5. Rolf Feldmann, Switzerland, 40.6

1. Kelly Clark, Mt. Snow, VT, 45.1
2. Hannah Teter, Belmont, VT, 43.2
3. Gretchen Bleiler, Aspen, CO, 39.4
4. Holly Crawford, Australia, 36.3
5. Kjersti Buaas, Norway, 34.9

The action below comes from GerryPallor at the US halfpipe 2007 Burton snowboarding championships which shows Shaun White winning the competition and he explains how he attracted the nickname ‘animal’ , and it also shows the winner of the women’s event – none other than the gorgeous Kelly Clark who won again and also the equally lovely Gretchen Bleiler in very close attendance.


The best 20 bungee jumps in the world

February 9, 2009

Our thanks to sanela who posted this great guide in  to the top 20 places in the world to bungee jump – so good we could make no improvement but knew we just had to let you have this information.

Bungee jumping – dive from the giddy height of a towering fixed structure while an elastic cord secures you and keeps you suspended just inches above the ground level at the end of the leap. What leaves most people breathless during a bungee venture are the rebounds that occur due to the stretching and snapping of the cord. Bungee jumping was first practiced as a rite of passage for the youths of Pentecost Island in Vanuatu. Since the modern times, several records have been made and broken by bungee-jumpers world over. The Guinness Book of World Records of the highest bungee jump was by AJ Hackett from Macau Tower of China from an altitude of 233 meters.

Below follows a brief guide on the places to bungee jump

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Royal Gorge Suspension Bridge, USA – 1053 ft (321 m)

Hanging above the Arkansas River, this suspended bridge is an all-time favorite bungee-jumping spot because of its amazing height. It spans over the Royal Gorge Route Railway and has a wooden plank-way for a breathtaking walk across the river.


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Bloukrans Bridge, South Africa – 710 ft (216 m)

This unique highest single span arch bridge adds much to the giddy raptures of bungee jumping. Look ahead to the instructions by the jump experts, the tantalizing countdown before the plunge and the smoothest recoils owing to the pendulum bungee technology that makes it the highest commercial bungee jumping venue internationally.

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Verzasca Dam, Val Verzasca, Switzerland – 721 ft (220 m)

Ever since the famous James Bond stunt in the movie ‘Goldeneye’, this high arch hydroelectric dam has been one of the favorite haunts for bungee jumpers. You require an advance reservation, a medical check and of course, the proper height and weight proportions for stepping into the shoes of 007.

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Corinth Canal, Greece – 260 ft (79 m)

The Corinth Canal works as a connector between mainland Greece and the Peloponnese. If you like to plunge down to the canal’s depth, just take a bungee jump from the bridge. This is a regular weekend sport organized by the Zulu Bungy in the summer months.

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Ponte Colossus, Italy – 500 ft (152 m)

You will find this 350 m long bridge awe-inspiring and an inspiring spot for an energetic sport like bungee jumping. It will take you an average of almost 4.5 seconds for the first fall. You need a lot of nerve power to sustain the 100 km/hr vertical velocity of the free fall.

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The Pipeline Bungy, New Zealand – 335 ft (102 m)

As you undertake the four seconds of free fall from the longest single span suspension bridge over the raging Shotover River, your heart skips a beat. At the close of these four second, you hang dangerously close to the foamy waters only to be secured in a boat and brought to the shore at the end of the oscillations.

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Colorado River, Costa Rica – 279 ft (85 m)

The Colorado River is chiefly the haunt of the hobby fishers though its bridge is an excellent bungee jumping site as well. There are both normal and special all-day long bungee jumping schedules offered by Tropical Bungee to give you diverse ranges of experiences at the highest safety levels.

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AltaVila Tower, Brasil/BH – 233 ft (71 m)

The Alta Vila Tower of Nova Lima attracts site seers and bungee jumpers alike since it commands a breathtaking view of the mountain-surrounded Belo Horizonte.

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Navajo Bridges, USA – 467 ft (142 m)

Navajo Bridge of Marble Canyon spans across the Colorado River right over the Grand Canyon. The autumnal beauty of its natural setting makes it a lovely bungee jumping spot in late September. The advantage of the superb elevation of the Navajo Bridge is coupled with a unique sense adventure that you associate with bungee jumping.

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Macau Tower, China – 764 ft (233 m)

This 338 m tall tower holds the provisions for an observation deck for relaxing as well as for undertaking daring sports like bungee jumping or ‘sky jumping’ as it actually feels like. It counts among one of the giddiest entertainments that Macau has to offer to its visitors and locals.

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Nevis Highwire Bungy, New Zealand – 440 ft (134 m)

The jump pod overlooking the roaring Nevis River holds an irresistible attraction for the lovers of bungee jumping. This incredible 8.5 seconds of freefall offers you an exciting scope to span the Nevis Valley. Nevis Highwire Bungy shuttles the jumpers to the glass-paneled jump pod to help them have an unforgettable experience.

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Puerto Vallarta, Mexico – 120 ft ( 37m )

Puerto Vallarta is more than a resort with its countless scopes for adventure sports in its jungles, beaches and cultural getaways. You can accept the allure of the lush-green waters of Banderas Bay by taking a bungee jump from the adjacent cliffs for $55.00 between 10 am to 6 pm. The superior quality of the jumping equipments allows you to enjoy a safe thrill.

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Graskop Gorge, South Africa – 197 ft/262 ft (60 m/80 m)

As a potential bungee jumping site, Graskop Gorge offers you a peerless freefall from a height of 18-19 stories of Foefie slide. As you leap off, the cord will take you across the entire width of the gorge in a single sweep. Catch the spectacular beauty of the Graskop Falls as you trail across in the super-fast zipline like a bird.

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Pont de Ponsonnas, France – 338 ft (103 m)


If you deem suspension bridges as the most exciting bungee jumping spots, this is something you can positively rave about. The old dilapidated Pont de Ponsonnas Bridge has been now replaced by concrete-built arch Ponsonnas Bridge to give you an even safer bungee jumping experience.

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Ledge Urban Bungee, Queenstown NZ – 154 ft ( 47m )

Queenstown offers a perfect combination of wild adventures and serene beauty. The Ledge Urban site is known for its unique runaway jumping style whereby you can catch a glimpse of the nighttime beauty of Queenstown. The bungee harness helps you to adopt any posture during the free fall and enjoy a maddening rush of adrenaline.

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Perrine Bridge, USA – 486 ft (148 m)

You do not need a permit for year round bungee jumping from this bridge connecting the Twin Falls area to the Jerome County. You can find several BASE jumping compeers to share the excitement.

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The Last Resort, Nepal – 525 ft (160 m)

It gives you a scope to look and jump off from the longest Nepalese suspension bridge across one of the scariest tropical gorges, with the Bhote Kosi River rumbling below. You can remain in air for a long time during your free fall amid the charming valley sights.

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Niouc, Switzerland – 623 ft (190 m)

Niouc holds the record for the highest bungee jumping spot in Europe. Discover the wild side of Switzerland as you go for an entire array of holiday activities, with bungee jumping topping the list.

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Longqing Gorge Bungee, China – 164 ft ( 50m )

With its green mountains, caves and clear water, Longqing Gorge of northeast Yanqing County is an amazing natural spot for trekking and cruising. However, nothing matches up to bungee jumping. Just gear up some courage and take the plunge. Let your friends capture your action in a camera that you can treasure for a lifetime.

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Victoria Falls Bridge, Zambia – 500 ft (152 m)

The Victoria Falls Bridge over Zambezi River connecting Zimbabwe and Zambia is reckoned a perfect spot by bungee jumpers to get a close brush of the spraying falls. Once you jump off, the fall may seem to rush up to you at a maddening pace but you can trust the ankle and body harnesses for their full-proof security.

Wow – sure is quite a list and if you have skalped all of these death deying adrenaline rushes we send you a big shout of respect – must be some kind of world record!


American squirrel man escapes jail sentence

January 24, 2009

We have often written about Jeb Corliss, one of the most celebrated and well known names in the world of base jumping and wingsuit flying , who in April 2006 was arrested while attempting to jump off the Empire State Building in New York. Earlier this week Corliss, 32, of Malibu, California, received probation and community service for his thwarted stunt.

He was convicted of reckless endangerment in December. Prosecutors argued he could have caused injuries by jumping, despite his claims to have studied traffic patterns around the foot of the 102-storey tourist attraction.

The skydiver could have faced up to a year in prison for the offence. The judge, Thomas Farber, said he received letters from Raymond Kelly, New York City Police Department commissioner, and the Empire State Building owners asking for a jail term for Corliss.

Mr Farber, however, rejected the suggestion, saying, “I simply don’t find it warranted in this case.” He added that in all his years as a prosecutor and a judge presiding over murder, rape and other cases, he had never received a letter from a high-ranking police official asking for a specific kind of sentence.

“From some of the letters I received, you would have thought the defendant tried to commit a terrorist act,” the judge said. Mr Farber sentenced Corliss, who had no prior criminal record, to three years’ probation and 100 hours community service, which he said the Californian could complete in his home state.

Corliss has made more than 1,000 safe jumps in countries all around the world including Japan, Russia, France and Malaysia.

Regular readers of this blog will know that Corliss is attempting to be the first man to land on earth, with only a wingsuit and no parachute, and to survive, and then go up and do it again. Details of how this will be achieved are top secret but we do understand that a special landing strip is being designed, somehow to be suspended in the air, which Corliss will have to fly to with pinpoint accuracy.

OMG – sure sounds tough – good luck Jeb.

Below is a video from wingsuitflyer which gives an update on the wingsuit landing project and as its coming up to a year since that release any further news would be greatly received. As for Corliss’s escape from imprisonment – well thank goodness Judge Farber used his great common sense – Corliss is no criminal.