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Extreme Sport Personalities

Updated on December 19, 2011

Extreme sports are action or adventure sports and often give an adrenaline rush. They can be dangerous and usually involve a level of risk and include things like fast speeds, height, stunts and high levels of exertion. There are many different types of extreme sports and activities, but they can all be broadly categorised into three main areas - air, land and water sports.

Air sports include things like BASE jumping, bungee jumping and skydiving. Land sports include mountain biking, extreme skiing, snowboarding, speed biking and indoor and outdoor climbing. Water sports include jet skiing, scuba diving and kitesurfing.

Masters Of The Sky

Air Sports - BASE Jumping

Carl Boenish, known to his family as Ronnie, is considered the father of BASE jumping. He was born in 1941 and was 21 when he began jumping. He was the first person to apply ram air parachutes and modern freefall techniques to fixed objects. BASE stands for four categories of fixed objects - buildings, antennas, spans (bridges) and earth (cliffs).

Carl was a filmmaker and in 1978 he filmed the first BASE jump from El Captain in Yosemite National Park. These jumps popularised the sport. Carl Boenish died at the age of 43 in 1984 in a BASE jump in Norway.

Land Sports - Extreme Skiing

Swiss skier Sylvain Saudan was one of the first extreme skiers. He was born in 1936 and as a child skied to school in the winter. He was increasingly drawn to previously unasked slopes and in 1967 descended the 45 degree drop of the Rothorn. He invented the 'windshield wiper' turn in the mid 60s and was one of the first to descend slopes that were previously considered impossible. In 1982 Saudan accomplished the longest 50-degree ski descent down Pakistan's Gasherbrum 1 which is 26,470 foot (8,070m) high. He has been given the name 'skier of the impossible' and is famous for skiing down large and steep mountains such as Mont Blanc and Kilimanjaro.

Water Sports - Kite Surfing

Kitesurfing gets its roots right back in the 1800s. Inventor George Pocock experimented with pulling loads using kite power and designed the 'Charvolant' buggy, a kite-drawn carriage. Carts could be propelled on land and ships on water.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s two brothers from France, Bruno and Dominique developed kites for kitesurfing and patented an inflatable kite design in November 1984.

Inventor Peter Lynn popularised kite buggying by developing power kites in the 1980s for traction uses and designing boats and buggies to use with them. This led onto the development of kitesurfing.

Kitesurfing was really popularised in Hawaii in the 1990s by surfers Laird Hamilton and Manu Bertin. Hamilton's stunts on sailboards led to experiments with some of the earliest kiteboards.


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