Serving Arizona State University Online Since 1995  Current Issue: Thursday, March 03, 2005



STUDENT MEDIA LINKS








SEARCH
FEATURES
LINKS

 

 

To extremes

Regular adventure sports just aren't enough for some ASU students

 by Katie Kelberlau  published on Thursday, March 3, 2005

<em>ON THE COVER</em>/issues/arts/692273
Cover
ON THE COVER
 
<em>DANIELLE PETERSON / STATE PRESS MAGAZINE</em><br>Industrial design senior Daren Nybo lives to ski.  When he's not working in the Architecture Building, he's hitting the slopes.
/issues/arts/692273
Danielle Peterson
DANIELLE PETERSON / STATE PRESS MAGAZINE
Industrial design senior Daren Nybo lives to ski. When he's not working in the Architecture Building, he's hitting the slopes.
 
<em>DANIELLE PETERSON / STATE PRESS MAGAZINE</em><br>ASU math teacher Holly Dison, 28, works on her bouldering skills at Phoenix Rock Gym.  Dison has been climbing for two and a half years.
/issues/arts/692273
Danielle Peterson
DANIELLE PETERSON / STATE PRESS MAGAZINE
ASU math teacher Holly Dison, 28, works on her bouldering skills at Phoenix Rock Gym. Dison has been climbing for two and a half years.
 
<em>Photo courtesy of scott scharlli</em><br>Scott Scharli, a 23-year-old graduate of ASU, climbs in Jacks Canyon in northern Arizona.  Scharli has been climbing for five years.  
/issues/arts/692273
Scott Scharlli
Photo courtesy of scott scharlli
Scott Scharli, a 23-year-old graduate of ASU, climbs in Jacks Canyon in northern Arizona. Scharli has been climbing for five years.
 

advertisement

Muscles rippling, Holly Dison contorts her body and grips a sketchy pocket on the wall with her fingers.

She wraps her right leg around the back of her left, delicately balancing on a sliver of rock the size of a baby carrot. Her lithe body is completely taut as she grabs a good-sized slab and holds on tight. Finally, she drops onto the padded ground with a soft thud and announces she is starting to feel warmed up.

Dison, along with many other ASU students, just can't seem to be satisfied by regular adventure sports.

More and more, thrill seekers are taking bigger risks with each trip they take, going to extremes to get their thrills, including bouldering, kayaking in white water, mountain biking on treacherous trails and skiing on towering mountains.

And with the advent of popular literature such as Outside magazine and Jon Krakour's account of climbing Mt. Everest, "Into Thin Air," more armchair athletes are picking up a pair of skis, carabiner or kayak and hitting the wilderness.

Adrenaline junkies

It is a busy Thursday night at Phoenix Rock Gym in the Aztec Court shopping center on University Drive.

Dison, a 28-year-old math professor at ASU, is hanging out in the bouldering area. Bouldering is climbing rocks about 20 feet above the ground without rope or protection.

The short, muscular blond, has been climbing for two years. She got involved because of her brother, who has been climbing for years.

"I always thought it was pointless because I could just walk around the backside of most of these climbs and hike up," she says. "But then I tried bouldering and got hooked. I like trying climbs over and over again until you figure out how to solve the problem."

Although today Dison is in Phoenix Rock Gym, she typically climbs in the outdoors throughout the Southwest.

Every rock climber falls at least once; some of the more extreme practitioners even fall to their deaths.

Dison says her worst climbing accident happened in Queen Creek, Ariz.

She was reaching up to clip the rope into a bolt but could not quite reach it. She kept reaching and reaching until she finally just lunged for a higher position.

That's when she fell, knocking her leg into a bulge of rock immediately below her, busting an ankle.

It took six months for her to recuperate, but that didn't keep her down. She began climbing again when her ankle was still healing.

"I could only do easy stuff," she says with a self-depreciating smile. "But I just couldn't wait to get back on the rock."

She looks happy as she dips her fingers in her chalk bag, laces up her well-worn climbing shoes and grabs a hold shaped like a fist. She lifts off the ground, weaving an intricate path from stone to stone, making it look easy.

In addition to rock climbing and bouldering, Dison also snowboards, mountain bikes and sky dives. Though she

hasn't jumped in a few years, she owns her own parachute and once shattered her femur in a rough landing.

"I guess I am pretty much just an adrenaline junkie," says Dison with a smile, struggling to think of any activity that actually frightens her.

Scott Scharli understands Dison's passion for the sport.

The 23-year-old ASU graduate started climbing five years ago and has been on the rock ever since.

Scharli was a fast learner and was climbing at a pretty high level quickly.

"I guess I have the right body type. I was never good at football, but then a football player could never climb like me, not to sound conceited," Scharli says. "I was lucky to have some really good climbers notice me in the gym and invite me along on climbing trips."

With his tall, lanky build and lean muscle, Scharli has the typical climber's physique. He says good climbers have to have flexibility and a good strength-to-weight ratio.

Scharli says he is hooked on rock climbing because of the adrenaline rush, the attraction of being outdoors, getting in shape and achieving mental satisfaction.

"I get a great fear rush," he says. "I receive the mental satisfaction of trying a climb over and over until all of a sudden I stick 'that' move and make it to the top."

Scharli was only the third Arizonan to climb a certain boulder in Joshua Tree National Park. He describes the climb as a long, moderately angled rock crack. He says it had an easy rating, but the exposure was intense.

"The bad part is, if you fall, you tend to pop off backwards and hit a large rock behind you," he says. "Honestly, you can't fall ... If you do, it would probably at the least be a broken skull."

Hardcore freak

It is a brisk, sunny Friday morning, and Daren Nybo is sitting outside the architecture building, his home away from home.

As a senior industrial design student, Nybo doesn't have as much time for sports as he would like, but when he heads home to Bozeman, Mont., he lets loose.

"I ski absolutely everything," he says. "Well, I guess I should say I attempt to. Sometimes I end up picking up my gear at the bottom."

One winter, Nybo was skiing backcountry with his friends. They were going down a hill dotted with small trees.

"My friends were at the bottom, so I decide to gun it down to the group. I was skiing through these little trees, hauling ass, and I come to these last two trees about this far apart," he says, holding his hands about 2 feet apart.

"Right as I am going through, the ski hits some powder and cocks off to the other side of the tree. I hit it in the crotch at about 40 miles an hour.

"I have never hit that hard," he adds. "My skis went flying and I was totally buried in the snow."

Once, Nybo went over a ski jump called Superman near his home in Bozeman. He built up as much speed as he could and then launched off the jump.

"I have never been so freaked out in my life. I was, like, 30 feet in the air flailing around," he says, kicking his legs and arms out to the side. "My heart seriously stopped beating."

When he hit the bottom, he sank waist-deep in the powder, and his goggles were completely covered in snow. He skied for about another 100 yards, totally blinded.

With his long, curly blond hair, glasses and groomed goatee, Nybo evokes the aura of a starving artist, not a hardcore outdoor freak. But in addition to skiing, he also rock climbs, snowboards and occasionally mountain bikes. One summer, he biked the local ski hill in his hometown.

"That was nearly disastrous, also," he says with a laugh. "The weeds grow so high it almost covered my bike, and there are these huge boulders we couldn't see. We took headers over the handlebars every 100 yards or so."

Despite Nybo's assuredly insane exploits, the only injury he has ever incurred was from sledding.

"I know," he says with a chuckle. "I am some fucking crazy skier, boarder and climber, and I blew out my knee sledding."

Swimming among sharks

Daniel Landers is a Regents professor in the department of kinesiology at ASU. His focus is on sports psychology.

He says people engage in extreme outdoor sports because they find it exciting or exhilarating to push their limits but pull back just short of death.

Usually, he says, people who get involved in these sports are of a certain personality type. Generally, extroverts are under-aroused, so they seek these types of behaviors to receive stimulation.

He says often what extreme sports enthusiasts may be looking for is a sense of vertigo.

"A child will spin in a circle until they fall down. That is how they achieve vertigo," he says. "Older people may go skydiving to get that same adrenaline surge."

The physiological responses to adrenaline and fear are quite similar, but once the brain perceives the situation as being under control, it will turn off the amygdala and calm the body. This is why, Landers says, a person who has never skydived will have a sky-high heart rate prior to jumping, but people with experience will lower their heart rate right before they leave the plane.

Business administration senior Aaron Mills says he plans to go skydiving during spring break.

Mills says he loves adrenaline sports and used to mountain bike and snowboard when he lived in Washington. Now, he scuba dives.

After going through diving certification his senior year of high school, Mills began diving in earnest and has traveled to Cozumel, San Carlos, Playa del Carmen and the Bahamas for diving vacations.

Last summer in the Bahamas, Mills signed on for a shark dive. During the dive, he says about a group of 10- to 12-foot sharks surrounded him and other divers.

"You know, people think diving looks so easy and simple, so people don't think it's a sport," Mills says. "But then you have all these things around you that can kill you. In the water you move so slow, and a shark moves so fast. If they attack you, there is nothing you can do."

He says there has never been a shark attack in that area, but divers still take a risk when they dive with sharks. His eyes light up as he discusses the possibility of diving in a cage to see Great Whites.

Though Mills says he always remains calm on dives, he says there was one time diving in a cave called Dos Ojos near Cancun when he had a bit of a scare.

"It was pitch black. The only light I had was my flashlight, and I was the last person in our group. Then my light went out," he says. "It was a bit scary, but I just stayed in one place and tried not to move too much. The cave walls were silt, and if you knocked too much of the silt off, it would totally cloud the water and I would have been S.O.L."

Besides the abundance of potentially lethal marine life, the biggest risk with scuba diving is ascending too quickly from a deep dive. With dives of 60 feet or more, there is the risk of what divers call "the bends."

The bends happen when divers surface too quickly, causing the nitrogen bubbles in their veins to expand, stretching the veins and causing them to spread apart. It is very painful and potentially lethal.

On his deepest dive, 130 feet to a sunken Navy vessel off the coast of the Bahamas, Mills had to be very careful to resurface slowly.

For Mills, the risks of scuba diving are worth the rewards. He likes diving into the deep water where there is still a lot of life.

"The Bahamas were my favorite," he says. "There were sharks twice my size and turtles bigger than me. It was awesome."

White water

The television screen fades to black and a warning appears.

"Do not try this at home, but if you do ... clean up after yourself."

The next shot shows a kayaker poised near the top of a gushing chute of water, Brush Creek, which narrows to the width of a small kayak and plunges between two giant boulders.

The kayaker paddles to the chute and plummets through, almost completely lost from view in the froth, save his paddle held high above his head. In the next moment, his paddle hits the stones and is yanked out of his hands, hurtles through the air and lands back in his awaiting arms at the bottom of the chute.

Members of ASU's newly formed Sun Devil Paddling Club compiled the DVD, which shows scenes from paddling Brush Creek and Otter Bar in California in 2004.

Hutton Wade, the club's president, is in a number of the shots.

Club member and supply chain management senior Kevin Fair just started kayaking this past year but had experience guiding his friends in private white water rafting trips for six years before that.

"It's totally cliche to say, but in a kayak, you feel more at one with the water," he says. "There is not as much of a sensation with rafting. Kayaks are more portable, more thrilling and you can do more tricks."

In a kayak, the paddlers are attached to the boat, so if the boat flips in a big rapid, they must either roll it back over or pull themselves out of the boat and take what is known to the kayaking world as a "swim."

Swimming a rapid can be very traumatic. Fair's first time swimming was on the south fork of the Payette River in Idaho last summer.

"I flipped at the very top of the rapid and took a 1-mile swim," he says. "I know I am supposed to keep my toes pointing down stream, but I just couldn't do it. I was so drained. By the time I got to the bottom, I couldn't even self-escape from the river. I had to be pulled into a boat."

To kayakers, flipping a boat and taking a swim is known as "carnage." Fair says with a laugh that most people hope to see some carnage during the day, as long as no one gets hurt.

Fair's brother has been kayaking for a long time and takes part in a sub-discipline of the sport known as "steep-creeking." Creeks are narrower, tighter and often steeper than rivers, so there is a much smaller margin of error. Creeks often have higher waterfalls and much more dire consequences for swimming.

With the soft tune of "Bittersweet Symphony" playing in the background, the DVD still-frames shots of the paddlers plunging over 10- to 15-foot waterfalls, paddles in the air and looks of intensity on their faces. Clustered at the bottom, their buddies cheer and smile with each successful run.

Landers, the sports psychologist, says extreme-sport athletes who take on the ultimate challenges usually only do so after years of experience and training.

"You must go gradually to get a person to do this," he says. "Take someone who climbs without a rope -- first they will have honed their skills climbing with a rope so that they minimize the risks."

He says people who are already active are more likely to be drawn to these sports, and they will usually seek out the proper training and develop their skills to gain confidence.

On the trail

Kevin Bair is a mechanical engineering freshman. He has been mountain biking since age 10, and has years of experience to back him up.

Bair takes on some of the toughest trails in the Valley, combating rocks, stair-step terrain and drop-offs. He just started competing in races for the Mountain Bike Association of Arizona.

"If you've seen these trails, you know that you can get messed up pretty bad," he says. "You have to know what you are doing."

Since it is his first year racing, he competes at the beginner level but plans to move up to the sport level next year.

"Me and the guys just dust the competition," he says.

Bair wears a helmet and knee guards when he bikes, a good thing since last time he raced, he took a spill over the handlebars, known as a "header."

Bair has never had a serious injury. He says, however, that while pre-riding the last race, a woman went over her handlebars and had to be air-evacuated to a hospital. He had to help carry her out.

In these types of sports, injuries are relatively common, and the athletes involved have to know how to bounce back from a nasty accident and face the inherent risks.

Landers says after a bad injury, some athletes may have fear problems but most just have to retrain and, to some degree, go back to the easy tasks until healed.

He says, however, that it is unlikely an injury would set back most extreme sports practitioners. The personality type that gets involved in these sports is one that loves the endorphin rush and adrenaline surge, and one that usually prepares well in advance.

From the looks of the kayakers, climbers, skiers, bikers and divers at ASU, Landers' typology holds.

These young men and women do not see their sports as inherently dangerous, as long as they are prepared, outfitted and in shape. As a group, they look risk straight in the face and then kick its ass.

Reach the reporter at katerine.kelberlau@asu.edu.
Muscles rippling, Holly Dison contorts her body and grips a sketchy pocket on the wall with her fingers.

She wraps her right leg around the back of her left, delicately balancing on a sliver of rock the size of a baby carrot. Her lithe body is completely taut as she grabs a good-sized slab and holds on tight. Finally, she drops onto the padded ground with a soft thud and announces she is starting to feel warmed up.

Dison, along with many other ASU students, just can't seem to be satisfied by regular adventure sports.

More and more, thrill seekers are taking bigger risks with each trip they take, going to extremes to get their thrills, including bouldering, kayaking in white water, mountain biking on treacherous trails and skiing on towering mountains.

And with the advent of popular literature such as Outside magazine and Jon Krakour's account of climbing Mt. Everest, "Into Thin Air," more armchair athletes are picking up a pair of skis, carabiner or kayak and hitting the wilderness.

Adrenaline junkies

It is a busy Thursday night at Phoenix Rock Gym in the Aztec Court shopping center on University Drive.

Dison, a 28-year-old math professor at ASU, is hanging out in the bouldering area. Bouldering is climbing rocks about 20 feet above the ground without rope or protection.

The short, muscular blond, has been climbing for two years. She got involved because of her brother, who has been climbing for years.

"I always thought it was pointless because I could just walk around the backside of most of these climbs and hike up," she says. "But then I tried bouldering and got hooked. I like trying climbs over and over again until you figure out how to solve the problem."

Although today Dison is in Phoenix Rock Gym, she typically climbs in the outdoors throughout the Southwest.

Every rock climber falls at least once; some of the more extreme practitioners even fall to their deaths.

Dison says her worst climbing accident happened in Queen Creek, Ariz.

She was reaching up to clip the rope into a bolt but could not quite reach it. She kept reaching and reaching until she finally just lunged for a higher position.

That's when she fell, knocking her leg into a bulge of rock immediately below her, busting an ankle.

It took six months for her to recuperate, but that didn't keep her down. She began climbing again when her ankle was still healing.

"I could only do easy stuff," she says with a self-depreciating smile. "But I just couldn't wait to get back on the rock."

She looks happy as she dips her fingers in her chalk bag, laces up her well-worn climbing shoes and grabs a hold shaped like a fist. She lifts off the ground, weaving an intricate path from stone to stone, making it look easy.

In addition to rock climbing and bouldering, Dison also snowboards, mountain bikes and sky dives. Though she

hasn't jumped in a few years, she owns her own parachute and once shattered her femur in a rough landing.

"I guess I am pretty much just an adrenaline junkie," says Dison with a smile, struggling to think of any activity that actually frightens her.

Scott Scharli understands Dison's passion for the sport.

The 23-year-old ASU graduate started climbing five years ago and has been on the rock ever since.

Scharli was a fast learner and was climbing at a pretty high level quickly.

"I guess I have the right body type. I was never good at football, but then a football player could never climb like me, not to sound conceited," Scharli says. "I was lucky to have some really good climbers notice me in the gym and invite me along on climbing trips."

With his tall, lanky build and lean muscle, Scharli has the typical climber's physique. He says good climbers have to have flexibility and a good strength-to-weight ratio.

Scharli says he is hooked on rock climbing because of the adrenaline rush, the attraction of being outdoors, getting in shape and achieving mental satisfaction.

"I get a great fear rush," he says. "I receive the mental satisfaction of trying a climb over and over until all of a sudden I stick 'that' move and make it to the top."

Scharli was only the third Arizonan to climb a certain boulder in Joshua Tree National Park. He describes the climb as a long, moderately angled rock crack. He says it had an easy rating, but the exposure was intense.

"The bad part is, if you fall, you tend to pop off backwards and hit a large rock behind you," he says. "Honestly, you can't fall ... If you do, it would probably at the least be a broken skull."

Hardcore freak

It is a brisk, sunny Friday morning, and Daren Nybo is sitting outside the architecture building, his home away from home.

As a senior industrial design student, Nybo doesn't have as much time for sports as he would like, but when he heads home to Bozeman, Mont., he lets loose.

"I ski absolutely everything," he says. "Well, I guess I should say I attempt to. Sometimes I end up picking up my gear at the bottom."

One winter, Nybo was skiing backcountry with his friends. They were going down a hill dotted with small trees.

"My friends were at the bottom, so I decide to gun it down to the group. I was skiing through these little trees, hauling ass, and I come to these last two trees about this far apart," he says, holding his hands about 2 feet apart.

"Right as I am going through, the ski hits some powder and cocks off to the other side of the tree. I hit it in the crotch at about 40 miles an hour.

"I have never hit that hard," he adds. "My skis went flying and I was totally buried in the snow."

Once, Nybo went over a ski jump called Superman near his home in Bozeman. He built up as much speed as he could and then launched off the jump.

"I have never been so freaked out in my life. I was, like, 30 feet in the air flailing around," he says, kicking his legs and arms out to the side. "My heart seriously stopped beating."

When he hit the bottom, he sank waist-deep in the powder, and his goggles were completely covered in snow. He skied for about another 100 yards, totally blinded.

With his long, curly blond hair, glasses and groomed goatee, Nybo evokes the aura of a starving artist, not a hardcore outdoor freak. But in addition to skiing, he also rock climbs, snowboards and occasionally mountain bikes. One summer, he biked the local ski hill in his hometown.

"That was nearly disastrous, also," he says with a laugh. "The weeds grow so high it almost covered my bike, and there are these huge boulders we couldn't see. We took headers over the handlebars every 100 yards or so."

Despite Nybo's assuredly insane exploits, the only injury he has ever incurred was from sledding.

"I know," he says with a chuckle. "I am some fucking crazy skier, boarder and climber, and I blew out my knee sledding."

Swimming among sharks

Daniel Landers is a Regents professor in the department of kinesiology at ASU. His focus is on sports psychology.

He says people engage in extreme outdoor sports because they find it exciting or exhilarating to push their limits but pull back just short of death.

Usually, he says, people who get involved in these sports are of a certain personality type. Generally, extroverts are under-aroused, so they seek these types of behaviors to receive stimulation.

He says often what extreme sports enthusiasts may be looking for is a sense of vertigo.

"A child will spin in a circle until they fall down. That is how they achieve vertigo," he says. "Older people may go skydiving to get that same adrenaline surge."

The physiological responses to adrenaline and fear are quite similar, but once the brain perceives the situation as being under control, it will turn off the amygdala and calm the body. This is why, Landers says, a person who has never skydived will have a sky-high heart rate prior to jumping, but people with experience will lower their heart rate right before they leave the plane.

Business administration senior Aaron Mills says he plans to go skydiving during spring break.

Mills says he loves adrenaline sports and used to mountain bike and snowboard when he lived in Washington. Now, he scuba dives.

After going through diving certification his senior year of high school, Mills began diving in earnest and has traveled to Cozumel, San Carlos, Playa del Carmen and the Bahamas for diving vacations.

Last summer in the Bahamas, Mills signed on for a shark dive. During the dive, he says about a group of 10- to 12-foot sharks surrounded him and other divers.

"You know, people think diving looks so easy and simple, so people don't think it's a sport," Mills says. "But then you have all these things around you that can kill you. In the water you move so slow, and a shark moves so fast. If they attack you, there is nothing you can do."

He says there has never been a shark attack in that area, but divers still take a risk when they dive with sharks. His eyes light up as he discusses the possibility of diving in a cage to see Great Whites.

Though Mills says he always remains calm on dives, he says there was one time diving in a cave called Dos Ojos near Cancun when he had a bit of a scare.

"It was pitch black. The only light I had was my flashlight, and I was the last person in our group. Then my light went out," he says. "It was a bit scary, but I just stayed in one place and tried not to move too much. The cave walls were silt, and if you knocked too much of the silt off, it would totally cloud the water and I would have been S.O.L."

Besides the abundance of potentially lethal marine life, the biggest risk with scuba diving is ascending too quickly from a deep dive. With dives of 60 feet or more, there is the risk of what divers call "the bends."

The bends happen when divers surface too quickly, causing the nitrogen bubbles in their veins to expand, stretching the veins and causing them to spread apart. It is very painful and potentially lethal.

On his deepest dive, 130 feet to a sunken Navy vessel off the coast of the Bahamas, Mills had to be very careful to resurface slowly.

For Mills, the risks of scuba diving are worth the rewards. He likes diving into the deep water where there is still a lot of life.

"The Bahamas were my favorite," he says. "There were sharks twice my size and turtles bigger than me. It was awesome."

White water

The television screen fades to black and a warning appears.

"Do not try this at home, but if you do ... clean up after yourself."

The next shot shows a kayaker poised near the top of a gushing chute of water, Brush Creek, which narrows to the width of a small kayak and plunges between two giant boulders.

The kayaker paddles to the chute and plummets through, almost completely lost from view in the froth, save his paddle held high above his head. In the next moment, his paddle hits the stones and is yanked out of his hands, hurtles through the air and lands back in his awaiting arms at the bottom of the chute.

Members of ASU's newly formed Sun Devil Paddling Club compiled the DVD, which shows scenes from paddling Brush Creek and Otter Bar in California in 2004.

Hutton Wade, the club's president, is in a number of the shots.

Club member and supply chain management senior Kevin Fair just started kayaking this past year but had experience guiding his friends in private white water rafting trips for six years before that.

"It's totally cliche to say, but in a kayak, you feel more at one with the water," he says. "There is not as much of a sensation with rafting. Kayaks are more portable, more thrilling and you can do more tricks."

In a kayak, the paddlers are attached to the boat, so if the boat flips in a big rapid, they must either roll it back over or pull themselves out of the boat and take what is known to the kayaking world as a "swim."

Swimming a rapid can be very traumatic. Fair's first time swimming was on the south fork of the Payette River in Idaho last summer.

"I flipped at the very top of the rapid and took a 1-mile swim," he says. "I know I am supposed to keep my toes pointing down stream, but I just couldn't do it. I was so drained. By the time I got to the bottom, I couldn't even self-escape from the river. I had to be pulled into a boat."

To kayakers, flipping a boat and taking a swim is known as "carnage." Fair says with a laugh that most people hope to see some carnage during the day, as long as no one gets hurt.

Fair's brother has been kayaking for a long time and takes part in a sub-discipline of the sport known as "steep-creeking." Creeks are narrower, tighter and often steeper than rivers, so there is a much smaller margin of error. Creeks often have higher waterfalls and much more dire consequences for swimming.

With the soft tune of "Bittersweet Symphony" playing in the background, the DVD still-frames shots of the paddlers plunging over 10- to 15-foot waterfalls, paddles in the air and looks of intensity on their faces. Clustered at the bottom, their buddies cheer and smile with each successful run.

Landers, the sports psychologist, says extreme-sport athletes who take on the ultimate challenges usually only do so after years of experience and training.

"You must go gradually to get a person to do this," he says. "Take someone who climbs without a rope -- first they will have honed their skills climbing with a rope so that they minimize the risks."

He says people who are already active are more likely to be drawn to these sports, and they will usually seek out the proper training and develop their skills to gain confidence.

On the trail

Kevin Bair is a mechanical engineering freshman. He has been mountain biking since age 10, and has years of experience to back him up.

Bair takes on some of the toughest trails in the Valley, combating rocks, stair-step terrain and drop-offs. He just started competing in races for the Mountain Bike Association of Arizona.

"If you've seen these trails, you know that you can get messed up pretty bad," he says. "You have to know what you are doing."

Since it is his first year racing, he competes at the beginner level but plans to move up to the sport level next year.

"Me and the guys just dust the competition," he says.

Bair wears a helmet and knee guards when he bikes, a good thing since last time he raced, he took a spill over the handlebars, known as a "header."

Bair has never had a serious injury. He says, however, that while pre-riding the last race, a woman went over her handlebars and had to be air-evacuated to a hospital. He had to help carry her out.

In these types of sports, injuries are relatively common, and the athletes involved have to know how to bounce back from a nasty accident and face the inherent risks.

Landers says after a bad injury, some athletes may have fear problems but most just have to retrain and, to some degree, go back to the easy tasks until healed.

He says, however, that it is unlikely an injury would set back most extreme sports practitioners. The personality type that gets involved in these sports is one that loves the endorphin rush and adrenaline surge, and one that usually prepares well in advance.

From the looks of the kayakers, climbers, skiers, bikers and divers at ASU, Landers' typology holds.

These young men and women do not see their sports as inherently dangerous, as long as they are prepared, outfitted and in shape. As a group, they look risk straight in the face and then kick its ass.

Reach the reporter at katerine.kelberlau@asu.edu.



Print This Story, click here

Sponsors
RC Helicopters


Copyright 2001-06, ASU Web Devil. All rights reserved. No reprints without permission.

Online Editor In Chief: Jolie McCullough | Online Adviser: Jason Manning | Technical Contact: Jason Wulf

Contact Info | Privacy Policy