Adrenaline junkies and extreme sports “Normal gets boring eventually”
Sports and youth culture – do they go together? Coolness and making the scene are important in a number of extreme sports. Sometimes these “cutting-edge” pastimes are about thrills, and sometimes about gaining some self-control and self-confidence. Three young extreme sport enthusiasts explain what it’s all about for them.
Amir (24), slopestylerI’ve tried many different sports. Judo, football, tennis, skateboarding. They all got boring eventually. Then I saw a couple guys cycling into the woods with helmets on. I followed them. It was love at first sight. That was 11 years ago. I knew right away: “Wow, this is my thing.” From then on I spent most of my time in the woods and building ramps with my mates.
Flying headlong down the slopes is wonderful, I could never get enough of it after that. All you need is your bike and your helmet. When I carry off a new trick it’s a feeling you seldom get in normal life without drugs. I practise each trick, each execution, till I’ve got it down pat in detail. But you can’t practise everything. There are times when you can gauge the risk and times when you can’t call all the shots anymore.
I do this sport professionally, it’s my job. Picture this: it’s a live broadcast, the organizer has invested money in it, you’re supposed to keep the sponsors happy and it’s windy as hell – on a dirt bike, the wheel rims act like sails as they turn. When you jump and it’s blowing too hard, you fall flat on your face right away. Then I say: “Now it’s over, my health is more important to me, however pushy the organizer may be.” In situations like that though, I’m never the only one to think that way. Cyclists insist on having the last word when it comes to their own safety. When you crash, you crash big-time. You can’t do this sport forever. If I can still work as a pro into my late 20s that’ll be fantastic.
Sarah (31), skydiver and BASE jumperSarah, 31, Fallschirmspringerin und Base-Flyerin | Foto: privat When I started working for Jochen Schweizer, my mother said: “But then you don’t jump!” I’ve been working there for three years now and I’ve tried all sorts of things in the meantime.
I started with skydiving. The first jump was simply awesome. When you’re standing up there you think to yourself: “Why am I actually doing this?” But a little later you know why. You don’t actually have to be fit, but I happen to be athletic. I think otherwise you wouldn’t hit on the idea in the first place. Normal gets boring eventually. The altitude in skydiving is abstract. You don’t even realize you’re 4,000 metres high. That makes it easier. In BASE jumping you dive from a highrise. Everything’s very close there and yet awfully far.
When I’m afraid, I explain to myself rationally that many everyday activities are more dangerous – driving a car, for example. But in your head it feels different. Because it’s just totally nuts to jump from the top of a building. Other extreme sports are more physically challenging, in jumping it’s mental. Naturally, my mother worries all the same. But she knows she simply has to let me do it. The feeling afterwards is the best. Objectively speaking, you haven’t done much, but you have dared to do something. In everyday life, you live in your daily grind and your comfort zone. Overcoming your own fear is an experience that’s beyond words. I don’t like taking risks. I actually like to play it safe in life. But I’m curious.
Marius (21), freerunnerMarius, 21, Freerunner | © Nicole Herzel When I tell people what I do I get the wildest reactions. From “those are the maniacs” to “raving mad”. We struggle with that a bit. We’re not adrenaline junkies, we’re extreme sportsmen. I like to talk about the art of locomotion. I discovered parkour on Youtube. Saw a video and thought: “I want to do that too!” I sprang with a buddy of mine from a climbing frame and said: “Hey, we’re doing parkour! Far out!”
I found out on the Internet, in those days still through forums, that there are other people doing it here in my town. We hooked up, drove around Baden-Württemberg, got organized, shared news and views, and trained up. Dealing with risk is the art behind parkour. I stand up there on the edge of a building, it’s a 25 metre drop. I can close my eyes and I can be sure, I trust my body so much, that it won’t lose its balance.
When jumping I put the world out of my mind. Run-up and jump. And then comes the blackout. In the first phase after jumping, you don’t notice anything. All I see is the landing. The best part for me is when I see in my workshops with kids how parkour changes them for the better. They blossom, they get organized on their own and act with greater self-assurance. Even the ones who were silent at first then say: “Hey, here I am, look what I can do!”