Extreme Sports: Pushing the Limits BY: Kristin Jessen

Extreme sports have grown tremendously in popularity over the last decade. Limits have been pushed and goals have been achieved. Some people may think sports have limits based on what their body can physically achieve. There comes a time in any sport when people think something can’t be outdone. Where there’s no room for improvement, or how something can’t be outdone. Well, that’s what some people think, with the correct amount of training, motivation, and adrenaline, limits can be reached in extreme sports. Humans have it in their souls to go beyond their limits when it comes to something their passionate about. Being an athlete in the extreme sports world athletes need to be loving what they do or it could be life threatening. It’s what drives humans from the inside to do better. Extreme sports have not decreased in population in the last 10 years. With a younger generation and more highly equipped gear these athletes are naturally better just based on age and equipment. At events such as X-Games or the Olympics audiences are starting to see athletes compete even at ages like 14 and 16. Extreme sports are naturally attractive to some which leads limits to be. Do humans really have a limit when pushing the extremes of extreme sports?

Mechanics, equipment and human capabilities are all being pushed. Sometimes it seems humans are naturally drawn to extreme sports and dangerous decisions. It’s part of human nature to seek fulfillment from one’s passion. Passion is what drives a lot of extreme sport athletes. They feel as if it is what they were put on this earth to do. When an athlete has a passion that is driving them they believe they must excel at it and do anything and everything they can do for it to happen. Athletes have personal goals, athletic goals, and goals maybe they are required to meet for certain sponsors. Sports such as base jumping, helicopter skiing, and cave diving are considered to be the topmost extreme with over so many deaths per year. Yet, despite the risk to human safety, records are being shattered, limits are being stretched, and physic expectations are being pushed. Death doesn’t scare most athletes in the filed of extreme sports, again because it is their passion. Factors such as environment, health, and technology have a huge impact on whether an athlete can compete to one’s full potential.

Humans have grown into powerful machines over the last decade, breaking records and setting unbeatable scores. Training has become more intense as personal trainers have learned how to effectively train athletes. Extreme athletes like those who perform in the Olympics are required to be physically fit for the event. This requires days off to be spent in a gym and trying to improve one’s health. Improved health and wellness knowledge has helped athletes to better prepare their bodies in order to perform at their best. Trainers who are in charge of putting these athletes through their workouts are just as passionate about their career than the athlete performing his/her are. Equipment used in training has become more modern and more specific to certain genders and body shapes. Gear for heli-skiing or snowboarding is designed specifically for men and women in order for them to use it to their full potential but also to ensure 100% safety. A healthy diet and exercise routine has so much power on an extreme athlete’s overall performance. With the right training, success becomes second nature. With the correct training, diet plan, and equipment it is easier and more believable for these extreme athletes to hit their goals, break their limits and push the boundaries.

Extreme sports such as snowmobiling and dirt biking have limitations to their equipment. Dating back 10 years ago, most extreme sports athletes could only do little to no flips on snowmobiles. Technology in equipment design has advanced further than ever before, allowing athletes to go beyond the limits of what used to be. One may think a snowmobile rider has limitations because of the weight of the sled, but industrial design has out showed the market that they can design slimmer, sleeker gear which will enhance an extreme athlete’s performance. Designers and manufacturers will always be collaborating to create the lightest, fastest and most powerful machine possible. Events such as the X Games prepare their courses with the intent for extreme athletes to push their limits. Metrics such as building the jumps the extreme athletes are using have a huge impact on how many rotations they can possibly do. Snowboards are designed many different ways all for different terrains which gives an extreme athlete an advantage to have the right equipment for the right environment. Rock climbers are gaining new technology and knowledge with tying knots, heavier duty ropes that are actually lighter than previous kinds. Any sort of improvement with equipment has a huge impact on the industry buying it, but it also creates an open door for extreme athletes to push their limitations even more.

Environmental factors also play a huge role in the limitations of extreme sports. Sports such as heli-skiing and surfing rely on natural factors like wave size and snow base. In order for a surfer to break a world record, break pressure and wave size play a key role. Other environmental factors such as temperature can play a big part in extreme athlete performance. Surfers may not perform to the best of their ability in water that is too cold. Likewise, snowboarders may not perform their best in negative temperatures. A lot of athletes in the winter aspect of extreme sports do a heavy amount of traveling so they can perform their sport all year round. Surfers also do quite the amount of traveling because of the storm seasons and wave action along the coasts. The environment that one feels the need is best for them to achieve their goals is were the athletes will travel. Environmental factors such as elevation come into play and can impact how far an extreme sport athlete can go. Athletes who flirt with high altitude are at a disadvantage as they receive less oxygen; this increases the potential for dehydration, hyperthermia, and other adverse effects caused by exposure to poor air quality. Some athletes train in harsh conditions in order to become more familiar with the risks of the sport they are engaging in. When gravity places certain uncontrollable limits on athletes, they are able to turn their focus to improving on other factors, such as speed. As soon as a sport reaches its limits, something similar evolves, bringing with it a blank canvas waiting for records to be created – and then broken.

Injuries and deaths have become a huge problem in extreme sports, which is something that events such as the X Games, the Dew Tour, and the Olympics have taken into high consideration. Event organizers and sponsors have begun to draw boundaries for competitors in order to make their performance as safe as possible. The crowd wants to see athletes go above and beyond traditional routines, cheering and becoming excited when a crash occurs. What the audience isn’t aware of is the life-long injuries and traumatic experiences these athletes then must suffer with. With a fire burning passion for the sport one is playing they don’t look at the negative side.

Companies will always be improving equipment in order for athletes to perform well. Technology and research will improve, as well, so athletes will always have access to the newest and greatest equipment. Limits will always continue to be pushed further and further. It may seem as if a sport cannot go beyond its top records but, as humans, we are always adapting and becoming greater, faster, and stronger. One sport reaching its full potential will only serve to spark the eyes of adrenaline-seekers who will evolve a new sport with limits to create and break all over again. There will not be limitations to any extreme sport for equipment, environmental factors, and technology is always improving. There is great room for improvement in every extreme sport it is just taking the right steps in order to get there. In order to break the limits athletes will have to take the risk to train more.

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