The Outside Prognosticator: Really Quite Stupid

May 2, 2004
Outside Magazine
Outside magazine, January 1996

The Outside Prognosticator: Really Quite Stupid

Is this any way to travel?

"What I do is fall," says Dan Osman, explaining his routine of climbing high on a fixed object or up a rock face and then leaping into the void, relying on carefully rigged, extra-elastic ropes to prevent him from going splat. "I'm the world record holder--last February, I did a 650-foot fall off a bridge in California. A friend who's into physics said my bones would be broken just by the force of the stop, but they weren't.

Aw-right! The inventor of, uh, organized falling and one of its few current practitioners, the 32-year-old Osman is an accomplished climber who's earned his stripes with notable free solos around the country. We respect his moxie, but the sport's dubious merits and obvious dangers (Osman had already lost a skilled friend who died while attempting a fall) force us to declare it a Stupid Pastime (TM), our term for the alarming, ever-expanding roster of outdoor activities that meet all of the following criteria:

  • They seem silly at first glance.
  • They seem idiotic at second glance.
  • If the gods are smiling, they could lead to a few jerky frames in a Mountain Dew commercial
Osman foresees success on all fronts--more fallers, organized competitions--and he may be right. "That could make for great television," ESPN publicist Josh Krulewitz says when told about falling. Which raises another question: Is there anything ESPN2 would not consider a televisable sport? "Well, we heard about one that involved lighting people on fire," answers Krulewitz. "That didn't make it."

Put Sizzle in Your Single-Track

"It has a big ol' flame coming out the back," says Bernie Schreiber, an Albertville, France-based American who's developing the Kamikaze Regulator RP 220, a hydrogen-peroxide-powered rocket bike that can reach 126 mph in six seconds. How's she handle, Bernie? "I don't get on it myself."

With No Giant Soda Cans, Can It Truly Be Called Freestyle?

They plunged hundreds of feet while "riding" snowboards and kayaks, and crowds loved "freestyle bungee jumping" at last year's inaugural Extreme Games. As Chris Stiepock, the event's PR director, sarcastically notes, "Fans could look and say, 'Hey, I can do that.'" But at this year's Extremes, slated for June in Rhode Island, "serious" gymnastic flops will replace comical stunts. Here's hoping displaced competitors--like the guy who jumped inside a 50-gallon Mountain Dew can--find venues that respect their art.

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