What makes an extreme sport ‘extreme?’


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A report by Global Industry Analysts found that participation in extreme sports is on the rise worldwide.

The report attributes the rising popularity of extreme sports to the fading impact of the recession coupled with increased consumer spending, and the fact that a whole bunch of people are getting into it. It also could be that everyone is blowing off steam that’s been building since the recession started, but we’re no experts. It just seems baseball doesn’t have the same soothing effect on a frustrated soul as perfecting a Superman Seat Grab mid-air on a motocross bike.

So what makes a sport “extreme?” There’s no set definition, but think of any sport that’s outside the norm (e.g., basketball, football and baseball) that’s adrenaline-packed, full of danger, speed-driven and chock full of stunts. The top five most popular extreme sports, according to the report, include in-line skating, skateboarding, paintball, snowboarding and mountain biking. See our top three favorites below.

The extreme sports industry can thank the hardcore enthusiast for the boost in sales of gear, apparel and accessories. The popularity of elite athletes and the inclusion of snowboarding in the Winter Olympics and exposure to ESPN’s X-Games have helped the industry too.

According to Transworld Business, the 2012 Winter X Games proved to be the highest-rated and most-watched Winter X Games ever telecast on ESPN.

Extreme canoeing, anyone?

HellaWella's Top 3 Extreme Faves

Snowmobile freestyle

Ever see BMX bike rider front-flip in mid-air? Well apparently snowmobiles are no exception! Snowmobiler Heath Frisby made history with an impressive front flip on a snowmobile at this year's Winter X Games. See the stunt here.

B.A.S.E. jumping

B.A.SE. jumping stands for Building, Antenna, Span (like bridges), Earth — four categories of objects from which a B.A.S.E. jumper can jump. It's a type of low-altitude sky diving, which requires a parachute or wingsuit, but you get to jump off of various points, such as El Capitan, a rock formation that rises more than 3,000 feet above the valley floor in Yosemite National Park. Modern base jumping was invented by Carl Boenish when he jumped off El Capitan in 1978.

Street Luge

You can get up to speeds varying from 40 mph to 97 mph. Downhill. On your back. Lugers use a modified skateboard or, due to it’s growing popularity, use professionally built boards specifically made for the sport. They control their speed and direction using their bodies. (Way to work the core!) Street luge had its beginnings in Southern California when skateboarders learned they could gain more speed by laying don on their boards. The first professional race was held in 1975 in Signal Hill, Calif., and hosted by the U.S. Skateboard Association.

Tell us: What's your favorite extreme sport?