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Thrills a minute in new sports

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I was, like, having an epic day, right up until I got bullwinkled. Conditions were aggra, so much so that I nearly nancied out. Instead, I hung with it and ended up looking like a complete hodad anyway.

If the above paragraph sounds like a foreign language, you're probably over 35, or at least under 35 with no experience in the extreme sport of bodyboarding.

You may want to get up to speed on that. There's a big new sports world out there, and it doesn't involve Bob Costas or even Kobe Bryant. It's a world of wild risks and unparalleled thrills. Cal Ripken Jr. wouldn't understand.

Remember when keeping track of sports was easy? There were football, baseball, basketball, golf, tennis, skiing, swimming, boxing, etc. Each sport had its vernacular, but most of the time it was self-explanatory: i.e., knockout, warm-up, strike-out, hit, slide. Now other sports are now coming along at a, well, extreme rate, each with its own colorful terminology.

Just deciding what is a sport is even becoming difficult. Bored with the traditional fare, thrill-seekers have ventured into areas unknown. For example: all-terrain boarding. It involves a board similar to a surfboard or snowboard, with large pneumatic tires. You can roll through the mud, along a highway or down a mountain.

Need more thrills? Try street luge. That track at Bear Hollow is for wimps. Street luge debuted at the ESPN Extreme Games in 1995 and is similar to the original sport, except it's done on a street, with no walls except maybe a highway guard rail.

Last May, "Wildman" Tom Mason attempted to set a street luge record along Traverse Ridge in Draper. He could only get going 80 mph.

He didn't set a record, but he undoubtedly scared the daylights out of the horses in the neighborhood.

His friend, Billy Copeland, did set a record in the rocket luge (a souped up street luge), reaching a speed of 98.5 mph.

Ever consider sky surfing? I didn't think so. About 20 years ago, skydivers began experimenting with boards during free fall, lying flat and clinging to the sides. Now they stand up and surf the air.

Maybe you've tried ice diving. Or not. Traditionally the domain of professional salvagers, it has become a sport, too. Using diving equipment and special gear to stay warm, participants seek out frozen lakes or even polar ice caps to explore.

One of my favorites, though, is the old-fashioned sport of marathoning — with a twist. This one involves Mount Everest. Participants fly 16 hours to Kathmandu, followed by a 10-hour bus ride to the trail head. Then you hike for 16 days in mountain terrain to the start line, where temperatures are a brisk minus 20 degrees.

The race starts at 17,500 feet above sea level and involves running downhill for 9,000 feet and then uphill 4,500 feet to the finish line.

Race organizers have been known to lose as many as 15 percent of the participants to altitude sickness before ever reaching the start line.

Another extreme option: BASE jumping. The acronym stands for building, antenna, span (bridges) and earth (cliffs) — the places from where participants leap. They strap a parachute on their backs and climb something high.

BASE jumpers have gone off the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Eiffel Tower, Empire State building, Golden Gate Bridge and Statue of Liberty, as well as the cliffs near Moab.

Biggest problem: You're likely to get arrested when you land.

BASE jumpers generally adhere to one rule: It's easier to get forgiveness than permission.

Kite buggying, wakeboarding, paintballing . . . who's to say what qualifies as a sport? An Israeli couple recently set what they hoped would be a world record by kissing for 30 hours and 45 minutes. Sport, recreation or stupid attention-getting gimmick? You be the judge.

True story: A restaurant in Texas invites diners to eat a 4 1/2-pound steak, baked potato, salad, shrimp cocktail and a dinner roll. If done within an hour, the meal is free.

Sounds like an extreme sport to me.


E-MAIL: rock@desnews.com