The sport activities that involve a significant amount of risk to life and include speed, great heights, or physical exertion are classified under the group of extreme sports. These sports are characterized by an element of thrill and excitement. Stunts and dangerous feats also fall under this category. Sports enthusiasts enjoy participating in such thrilling activities. Those of the daring type take part in all types of adventure sports for that adrenaline rush, while safe-players prefer watching them. In general, extreme sports have reached far and wide and have become popular among the youngsters today.
The advancement in technology became one of the important reasons behind the emergence of extreme sports. Perhaps, the absence of the risk factor, rather the adventure element in daily living generates the need for adventure, which is best met through extreme sports. People began to engage in extreme sports mainly for the thrill involved and in some cases, also for publicity. The emergence of extreme sports can be traced back to the 18th century. They have come a long way and have become a craze.
Top 10 Extreme Sports
Hang Gliding: It is an air sport wherein a pilot flies a foot-launchable aircraft, which is known as a hang glider. The pilots maneuver the aircraft by shifting body weight or by modern aircraft control systems. Owing to the advances in technology, pilots can soar high covering large distances while also performing aerobatics. Today, the Federation of World Air Sports organizes world championships in hang gliding.
Paragliding: Closely related to hang gliding, paragliding is another flying sport. The design of the aircraft and the way of flying are similar to those observed in hang gliding. Paragliders have no solid support. They are foot-launched. Hence turbulent weather imposes a great amount of risk on the sportsperson. For efficient paragliding, a person needs to have a know-how of the aircraft design, the concept of flying, the engineering involved in the activity, and meteorology.
Surfing: The activity of going along the face of a breaking wave by means of a surfboard is known as surfing. It is a surface water sport. The variations in the designs of the surfboard and the style of riding have classified surfing into two classes namely, long boarding and short boarding. Surfing is believed to have been a part of the ancient Polynesian culture and was first observed by Europeans. Some people practice surfing as a recreational activity while others devote their lives to it. Today, it is a widely popular extreme sport.
Windsurfing: Windsurfing is another surface water sport that is practiced using a windsurf board that is known as a surfboard. It is driven by a single sail. The sport is a combination of sailing and surfing. Winds from about 15-25 knots create an ideal environment for wind surfing. This sport emerged in the late years of the 20th century. Today different types of windsurfing boards and sails are available. Robby Naish and Bjorn Dunkerbeck were among the windsurfers who gained international acclaim. Training from an early age is the key to success in windsurfing.
Ice Climbing: The activity that involves climbing up inclined ice formations is known as ice climbing. Sportspeople practicing ice climbing, ascend along icefalls or frozen waterfalls as also rocks capped with ice. Alpine ice climbing involves crossing the mountain environment while water ice climbing is done beneath waterfalls or on cliffs. Depending on the texture of the ice to climb on, and the nature of the slope, climbers determine the equipment to be carried. Ice climbers and mountaineers are members of different clubs which arrange training and expeditions for ice climbers. The Mazamas and the American Alpine Club are some of the oldest clubs in the United States and Canada.
Hot Air Ballooning: An air balloon was the first human-carrying flight technology. The first manned flight of a balloon was recorded in France in 1783. A bag in the balloon that is known as an envelope contains hot air. A wicker basket suspended from the balloon carries the passengers. In the balloons used in hot air ballooning as a sport, the envelope is made out of nylon-like material and the mouth of the balloon is made of a fire-resistant material. Air ballooning is one of the very popular extreme sports around the world.
Skydiving: Also known as parachuting, skydiving involves a planned drop from a height using a parachute. There are records about successful parachute jumps from hot air balloons in the year 1797. The sport became international only in 1951. This sport demands free-falling skills and knowledge about parachuting techniques. Today, it is among the most popular recreational activities and competitive sports.
Mountain Biking: This extreme sport comprises riding bicycles over rough terrains. Specially designed bikes known as mountain bikes or hybrid road bikes are used in this sport. Depending on the terrain to be traveled and the way of riding, mountain biking is classified into four types namely, cross-country, freeride, downhill, and street riding. Mountain biking evolved in the 1970s. Many riders of the United States claim to have contributed in the evolution of mountain biking as an extreme sport. In the honor of the pioneering mountain bikers, the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame was established in 1988. This sport involves a journey across different kinds of deserted terrains. Hence the bikers need to possess survival skills, a great amount of self-reliance, and most importantly, bike-riding skills.
Bungee Jumping: The act of jumping from a tall structure while tied to a long elastic cord is known as bungee jumping. The tall structure is often a tall building, a bridge or a crane. The free falling that is experienced in bungee jumping makes it a sport full of thrill and excitement. The cord absorbs the energy of the fall and oscillates until the energy is consumed. The oscillations of the cord make the jumper fly up and down. The first modern bungee jumping provision was made in 1979 in Bristol. But the initial commercial bungee jumping began to be practiced in New Zealand in 1986. Today, it has earned a mixed popularity among the masses.
Mountaineering: Mountaineering is one of the most popular activities carried out as a sport and hobby. It combines walking, trekking, and hiking. It originated with the intent to trek to the highest points, which were never climbed before. But it soon became a sport requiring athletic abilities. In Europe, mountaineering is known by the name, Alpinism and is largely practiced in the Alps. Some derive pleasure from expeditions over rock while others love to explore snow-covered mountains. Experience brings in expertise in case of mountaineering.
Those enlisted above, as the top ten extreme sports were included in this list based on their popularity. If they were to be enlisted based on the degree of adventure they involve, the order could have been different and would have differed from person to person as well. Here, we give you some more adventure sports that can be included among the top ones. They are some of the mentions our readers requested, we make.
Skateboarding: Born in the 1940s out of the wish to surf on flat waves, skateboarding became quite popular by the '60s. During the '70s, various skateboarding competitions began to be held and improvements were made in the sports equipment, thus promoting skateboarding as a sport. The first skateparks were built in the late 1970s, further boosting the sport's popularity. The 1990s and 2000s witnessed the introductions of tricks to skateboarding, further improvement in the gear, greater consideration to safety, more popularity, and wider participation. Today, this adventure sport enjoys a following of millions around the world.
Scuba Diving: It is an underwater sport where a diver goes underwater carrying a breathing equipment and moves with the help of fins attached to his feet. As the breathing apparatus is with the diver, he can span longer distances and remain underwater for a longer time. Scuba diving is enjoyed as a recreational activity and is undertaken in areas where rich marine life thrives. It is also a popular sport in regions of the coral reefs.
Motocross: Motorcycle trails evolved into Motocross. The sport was born in the United Kingdom from where it spread to other parts of the world. In the late '60s, the Japanese dominated this sport. The motorcycle manufacturers who boosted the sport were Japanese. In the 2000s, environment-friendly technology was adopted in the production of motorcycles.
BMX: Closely linked with Motocross, BMX is a cycle sport that uses BMX bikes. It developed in southern California in the 1970s, when kids used to bicycle on dirt tracks. The international BMX Federation was founded in 1981 and the first world championships were held in 1982. In 2003, BMX was made an Olympic sport.
If you have been reading this because of your passion for or interest in extreme sports, do let us know which one of these you enjoy the most.