LAST MONTH’S Billabong Pro Tahiti brought the world’s best surfers together at Teahupoo. Unlike most other big reef breaks, when the right southern swell hits Teahupoo, the wave sucks water off the swaths of underwater coral and dumps it right back down, with faces that range from 20 to 30 feet. This is also why the break is said to “have teeth.” (Unsurprisingly, demigod Kelly Slater took home the prize.)
It’s so f*ing dangerous it got us thinking about what other poop-inducing sports competitions exist out there. Check out this list:
1. World BASE Race
Started three years ago in Norway, the World BASE Race is fairly self-explanatory. Wingsuited participants, all of whom are (or should be) skilled mountaineers, climbers and/or parachuters, jump off fixed land masses or structures and try to make themselves more aerodynamic than their fellow competitors before parachuting to the ground and being coined the “World’s Fastest Human Being.” Next event: July 6, 2012.
2. Freeride World Tour
This is the wintery equivalent of big wave surfing. The Freeride World Tour was created by a Swedish-British entrepreneur in 1996 (it was originally called the Verbier Extreme). Contest organizers describe the event as a “vertical free-verse poem.” The start gates are at the summit, the finish is at the mountain base, and the most epic run wins. Next event: TBD, 2012.
3. The Green Race
Every November, hyper-skilled whitewater kayakers converge in Asheville, North Carolina for the annual Green Race, which runs through the “narrows,” a section of continuous class IV-V rapids. Crowds hike in to watch people stomping (and getting stomped) at “Gorilla” a twenty foot fall into a four foot wide slot. Safety Waivers for the race include the following acknowledgement: “I have been warned of the stupidity of this activity, and I freely and of my own will accept this stupidity, ignore all warnings, and participate anyway.” Enough said. Next event: November 5, 2011.
4. National High School Cheerleading Competitions
You read right. Between the make-up and coiffing, the saccharine smiles and short skirts (all scary in their own rights), lies one of the most dangerous activities around. With some of the highest rates of head and neck injuries of any sport–as of five years ago, it led to more than half of catastrophic injuries to female athletes–cheerleading should also be classified as extreme. Throw in the adrenaline and hormones of national high school competitions, and it’s a recipe for nail-biting action. Next event: Ongoing, locally and nationally.
5. AMA Pro Motorcycle Races
The AMA Pro Motorcycle Races are like NASCAR races, but the speed and general exposure of the riders are enough to make any adrenaline freak squeamish. The organizers are hoping to push motorcycle racing to a “new level,” but with courses ranging from flat tracks to off-roading to hillclimbs, it’s hard to imagine where else they can go. Next event: September 24, 2011.
6. Red Bull Cliff Diving
Similar to BASE jumping, but this time without wingsuits or parachutes, the cliff divers in the Red Bull-sponsored challenge, are like Greg Louganis on massive amounts of steroids and with a love for the outdoors. Uh, too outdated a reference? Maybe, since the event is only three years old. Next event: TBD, 2012.
It doesn’t take a genius to see why watching men get bucked by bulls can be a hair-raising experience for both the audience and the participants. No matter how much training these guys have, putting themselves at the mercy of hungry, macho masticators can be more dangerous than big wave riding, because at least waves don’t get angry. Next event: Check out an upcoming state fair.
8. International Mountaineering and Climbing Federation’s World Cup
What makes ice climbing competitions, like the International Mountaineering and Climbing Federation’s World Cup, different from other is partially the temperature, but also the precision with which competitors must use their tools and shoes in order to progress. It’s really an art form, and any misstep–particularly in real-life travels–can mean the difference between life and death, or in cases like Joe Simpson’s, tales of climbing mythology. Next event: January 14, 2012.
Feature image of freeride skier: Shifted*Exposure