Lindy Taverner

Idiot’s guide to extreme sport

2011-04-13 09:09
Lindy Taverner is the editor of the RUSH magazine (File)
Lindy Taverner

The word extreme is rather lame as it has been overused in promoting anything from vacuum cleaning to car polishes. It first gained popularity in the nineties to market ESPN’s X Games, but it’s unfortunate that such a cool word has since suffered so far a fall from grace.

I’ve been on a mission to find out exactly what an extreme sport is, and for an acceptable replacement word.  No ... action, adrenaline or adventure are definitely not options.

According to the Webster's New Millennium Dictionary, "Extreme sports feature a combination of speed, height, danger and spectacular stunts."

A really good definition I prefer is, “You make a mistake you can die”. On querying a base jumper, his choice was, “maximum intensity”.

Which sports are considered 'extreme' is debatable, but it has as much to do with marketing as it has to do with perceptions about levels of danger involved or the amount of adrenaline generated.

Activities categorised as extreme sports also differ from traditional sports by the higher number of inherently uncontrollable variables. Athletes compete not only against other athletes, but also against environmental obstacles and challenges. These variables are frequently weather and terrain related, including wind, snow, water and mountains.
Extreme sports tend to be more solitary than traditional sports, and a typical characteristic is a counter-cultural aura - the rejection of authority and the status quo by disaffected youth. Think BMX and snowboarding.

The potential to reach ‘nirvana’ is the core element of any extreme sport experience. If you don’t know what that means, you wouldn’t understand anyway.

Last weekend internationally renowned big-wave surfer Chris Bertish paddled 110km on his Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) from Cape Town to Langebaan for the CANSUP110 fundraiser. That is some serious, hardcore distance out there in the unpredictable Atlantic.

SAGRA, the South African Gravity Racing Association, Fair Cape Downhill Challenge starts this Saturday morning and continues to entertain until Sunday evening on the  Malanshoogte road in Durbanville, Cape Town. The course is 1.9km long from start to finish, where top speeds of 105km/h have been reached for downhill skateboard and 117km/h for street luge. We are sure to see some carnage...

Upcoming columns:

1. The differences between the various extreme sports that you always pretended to know.
2. Why the boarding disciplines definitely hold the cool factor in extreme sports.
3. Who is the most hardcore extreme athlete in South Africa?

Lindy Taverner is the editor of the RUSH magazine that was based in the Eastern Cape and recently relocated to Cape Town. Previous issues and updated extreme sport news can be found on her site

Disclaimer: Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.

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