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Extreme sports have been gaining popularity since the 1990s when the term ‘extreme sport’ was adopted by marketing companies to promote the X Games, a freestyle competition for skiers and snowboarders, and the Extreme Sports Channel was launched. A phrase attributed to Ernest Hemmingway may trace the origins of extreme sports in the 1950s, he said: “There are only three sports: bullfighting, motor racing, and mountaineering; all the rest are merely games”.
Although obviously not entirely accurate, there is some truth to Hemmingway’s words in that the three sports he lists share characteristics that have become intrinsic to extreme sports in general; a high level of inherent danger and physical exertion, specialised gear and those activities involving speed and/or height. Due to these factors, extreme sports tend to attract a younger demographic – those who like a challenge and are constantly seeking new adrenalin boosting thrills. Extreme sports are largely about exhilaration, skill and danger and tend to be individual-based with very few rules, hence why they are rarely sanctioned in schools or at sports clubs.
Extreme sports are often categorised as different from traditional sports due to their dependence on natural phenomena which cannot be controlled. For example wave height for surfers, ice quality for climbers, and wind speeds for paragliding. Consequently, it is difficult to apply the traditional sporting judging criteria and so extreme sports tend to employ their own, more subjective methods of assessment.
We cover a number of high risk sports including parachuting, downhill mountain biking, grade 4 and 5 white water rafting, paramotoring and handgliding among many others. We do not discourage participation in higher risk sports but we do advocate the necessity of insurance particularly in these sports where risk of injury is considerably higher! Whether at home or abroad, make sure you are not vulnerable to the financial repercussions of injury.