Our need for speed, adrenaline and new experiences is pushing the wide world of sports to increasingly extreme levels. Videos of extreme downhill skateboarding and street luge starting making a splash online a few years ago, but that’s just the tip of the extreme sports iceberg.
The X Games don’t hold a candle to these top extreme sports found around the world.
As if jumping out of a helicopter to go skiing (heli-skiing) wasn’t extreme enough, there are some thrill seekers who combine skiing and flying even more.
Paraskiing is a combination of skiing (or snowboarding) and parasailing. The skier wears a parasail and when they pick up enough speed to make the parasail rise, they’re lifted off the ground and start soaring.
Some parasailers fly for the entire run while others bounce back and forth between sailing and skiing. It essentially combines two top extreme sports into one ultimate extreme sport. To get to an even more extreme level, some athletes combine heli-skiing and paraskiing – which opens up a whole new world of terrain.
Right now, wingsuit flying is probably the closest humans can get to controlled, non-machine-assisted flying.
Wingsuit flying is a variation of sky diving in which the “pilot” or jumper wears a special suit that essentially makes them look like a flying squirrel. This specialized suit features “wings” along the side of the body and between the legs. The wings have air pockets that give the pilot more lift, allowing them to fall slower and control where they go with an amazing amount of precision.
Wingsuit flying can take place from a helicopter or off a base and some expert flyers get incredibly close to mountainsides and even cruise in a controlled free fall through ravines.
What could make walking a tight rope harder? When that rope isn’t actually taunt. You might have seen slacklines set up at festivals for slackliners to exhibit their skills and to give the general public a chance to try this extreme sport (albeit, without the possibility of falling very far).
Where slacklining turns into an extreme extreme sport is when it becomes known as highlining. A slackline is set up high off the ground (typically between buildings or cliffs) and a slackliner crosses without a safety net or pole for additional balance. The only thing keeping them secure while the line moves and sways is their intense balance and a small safety harness.
Volcano Boarding/Volcano Surfing
When skiing or sledding on snow isn’t extreme enough, it’s time to take a trip to an active volcano.
Volcano boarding or volcano surfing is exactly what it sounds like, you slide down the side of a volcano that’s covered in cool cinders or ash. And by ash we mean mostly little bits of sharp volcanic rock.
After hiking over rocks and rubble to the peak, riders go down the volcano on makeshift plywood toboggans, which makes this extreme sport accessible to anyone. The best of the best, though, can surf down the slope while standing on the board.
When you’re scuba diving, you’re literally in a situation where you could be physically unable to breathe if something goes wrong. Most divers have oxygen tanks with them, but some athletes disregard this normal equipment and opt to freedive.
Like many of these top extreme sports, freediving is exactly what it sounds like – a diver goes down with no survival equipment other than flippers. They plan on making the descent and ascent on a single breath of air. The pressure changes of deep diving, physical exertion it takes to climb back to the surface and mental panic that can set in make this more than just holding your breath for a really long time.