In the world of extreme sports, creative adrenaline junkies are giving new meaning to the term “mash-up”
Back in the day, people had to create their own adventures. You’d tie a couple of wooden slats to your feet and go barreling down a snow-covered mountain, say, or grab a piece of vine, Tarzan-style, and swing yourself out over a lake. Today, extreme sports enthusiasts are using a combination of technological know-how and an apparently limitless appetite for near-death experiences to create faster, trickier, nuttier ways to get an adrenaline fix. Every week, it seems, some bright spark will introduce an imaginative gadget or technique that allows people to soar, plunge, twirl, whiz and boing around perilously. Here, we take a look at some of the more recent, and extreme, innovations.
+ Requirements: Wingsuit, parachute, helmet, high place from which to jump, faith.
+ Best place to do it: Because wingsuit flying requires, well, falling, many participants BASE jump first (BASE is an acronym for building, antenna, span and earth). One of the most popular spots is in the scenic Lauterbrunnen Valley in Switzerland.
+ Origins: Though wingsuiting may look futuristic, versions of it have been around since the early 1900s, when suits made of canvas or silk, wood and whalebone proved to be a little bit splatty. Modern wingsuiting, with its durable, lightweight materials, was born in 1999, when Jari Kuosma of Finland and Robert Pečnik of Croatia developed the first commercially available suit.
+ The experience: “Wingsuit flying is one of those things that you have to experience in order to truly understand it,” says Jeb Corliss, an American skydiver and BASE jumper who has leaped from the Eiffel Tower, Seattle’s Space Needle and Rio’s Christ the Redeemer statue. “Trying to explain this to people is hard. If a person hasn’t experienced love, it’s very difficult to explain what it is, you know? Wingsuit flying is similar.”
BASE jumping + a Superman complex = wingsuit flying