Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Ski flying: Another extreme sport getting off the ground

Extreme sports are as intriguing as they are exciting and dangerous. Why do people do the things they do? Because they can. There are even those who can ski down a slope toward a cliff, then lift off the snow and start flying. Incredible. Observe:

Norway's Halvor Angvik and Jokke Sommer call it "speed flying," though it's been referred to as ski flying -- a more apt name, we believe. By whatever name, it's insane, like most extreme sports.

Asylum.com featured the pair (who are in the above video) and the sport in a post earlier this month. They told Asylum it was a combination of ski flying and speed riding (speed riding: check this intense video out). To the layman, it looks like a cross between skiing and paragliding.

The fliers use high-performance skydiving canopies that are already opened and take a "running" start like a paraglider. Then off they go down the mountain faster than you and I would want to go down a mountain.  

Angvik talked to Asylum about the dangers of the sport and the importance of minimizing them.
"It seems to me that too many people have decided that humans should stay on the ground and those who don't should be considered careless and suicidal," he told Asylum. "It's obvious that it's dangerous to impact a solid rock wall at 100-plus miles per hour, but I'd rather focus on what preparations and rules I want to set for myself to make sure I don't end up hurt."

Good thinking.

Subscribe to Outdoors 720 by Email

Follow Outdoors720 on Twitter at @outdoors720

Other interesting posts...
Surfer breaks erroneous Guinness surfing record, or did he?
Lindsey Vonn impersonates Sharon Stone for ESPN The Magazine
The next Tony Hawk is already soaring to new heights

Monday, November 29, 2010

Wildlife featured in National Geographic Photo Contest

A lion gets ready to pounce on a giraffe. Photo by Alex Tan

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then you’ll find a book’s worth of incredible photographs being entered in the 2010 National Geographic Photography Contest.

The Big Picture, a Boston Globe blog, posted 47 of the entries, which fall under these categories: people, places and nature. In case you want to enter, the deadline is Tuesday.

Photo by Linh Dinh
They are fascinating and captivating. The HD-like quality is no doubt impressive.

Among the collection posted on The Big Picture: A close-up of bees, a lion ready to jump a giraffe (above photo), a lazy brown bear, a porpoise seemingly with purpose, a great blue heron with dinner on its beak (left) and two giraffes symmetrically opposite each other with a tree centered in the distance (photo below).

Yes, about that photo of two giraffes with the centered tree. One person in comments flat-out recognized it as a phony, saying it was photo-shopped. Hmmm. Upon closer examination... Well, what do you think?

We’d hope the judges can recognize a phony when they see one, but irregardless of this questionable entry, you’d be doing yourself a favor by taking a look at this marvelous collection of photos, made all the more impressive when seen in their original sizes.

Photo by Niko Saunio

If you really want to get into it, you can even rate the photos, which have been coming in for nine weeks. To do so, go here. Or go here to see The Big Picture's samples. Enjoy.

Subscribe to Outdoors 720 by Email

Follow Outdoors720 on Twitter at @outdoors720

Other interesting posts:
Yellowstone's version of UFC: The Bear vs. The Bison
Video: See a dog go fishing and catch a salmon

Surfing legend Kelly Slater gets a bronze statue

Photo by Tom Dugan/ESM

Surfing icon Kelly Slater might be afflicted with Rodney Dangerfield disease in the mainstream media, but he’s been getting a tremendous amount of love from the surfing community, one trying to force its will on the Fourth Estate.

For instance, GrindTV Outdoor suggested a few months ago that Slater could be the best athlete ever.

And now someone on the Surf Station message board is promoting Slater for Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year. There’s even a Facebook page called “Get Kelly Slater on the cover of Sports Illustrated and ESPN Magazine.” (Incidentally, if you want to vote for Slater, you can at SI’s FanNation website.)

If nothing else, at least the 10-time world champion Slater will be remembered in bronze.

Earlier this month, the city of Cocoa Beach, Fla., unveiled a 9 1/2-foot bronze statue of Slater, posed atop a surfboard.

In a write-up of that honor, Surfline.com referred to him as the Master of the Surfing Universe. On that there is no question.

Subscribe to Outdoors 720 by Email

Follow Outdoors720 on Twitter at @outdoors720

Other interesting posts:
Surfer breaks erroneous Guinness surfing record, or did he?
Big-wave surfers catch 50-foot waves off...Ireland?
Lindsey Vonn impersonates Sharon Stone for ESPN Magazine

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Surfer breaks erroneous Guinness surfing record, or did he?

Everybody loves to hear about Guinness World Records. They’re crazy. They’re stupid. They’re fun. Like the record attempt over the weekend in Surf City -- except for the parts that fail to pass the smell test.

This gets interesting, folks.

Swell.com announced it was flying in Guinness officials last Saturday to judge Bill Laity’s attempt to break the world record for the longest continuous surfing session.

Said Swell.com: “The current record stands at a solid 24 hours, set by lifeguard Thomas Cannon in the warm summer waters of North Carolina. Bill will be pushing to beat that by a considerable amount.”

Oh, he beat it by a considerable amount, all right, if he indeed surfed as long as it is claimed.

Laity, 37, of San Clemente set a potential world record for longest continuous surfing session at 26 hours, emerging from the water at 9:26 a.m. Sunday, according to Michael Figueroa of Swell.com (via the Orange County Register).

He did so in the surf off Huntington Beach, Calif., battling rain, wind gusts between 20 and 40 mph, storm swells surging from all directions, water temperatures in the low 60s, air temperatures in the low 40s -- and only getting five-minute breaks every hour.

By Swell.com’s count,  he caught 147 waves, or five to six waves an hour. Kudos, Mr. Laity, kudos. What a feat! But you know, you could have stopped after 16 hours and had the record by plenty.

Why? Because the world record is actually 15 hours, 2 minutes, at least according to Thomas Cannon.

Cannon, a senior at Gardner-Webb University in North Carolina, was featured on Oct. 9 by the school newspaper on GWU-Today.com. He was attempting to surf for 24 hours, but he said it got too rough so he quit early.

But since no previous record had been set, his newly established record stands. Or does it?

It may not even be a record as of today. According to that Oct. 9 article, Cannon said he still needed to edit the video of his attempt and send it in to the Guinness World Record people. He said he’d do it by Christmas, and Guinness says it takes 6-8 weeks to verify.

So was there even a record for Laity to break? Uh, probably not.

Oh, but the plot thickens.

What’s amazing is that Swell.com would pay between $4,780 to $7,966 to bring a Guinness adjudicator on scene to verify the record on the spot. According to the Guinness website, that's the going price if you want its people there. Now, the folks at Swell.com wouldn’t just say they were bringing in Guinness judges just for the publicity would they? Naw, of course not.

But it is interesting that the record wasn’t instantly verified by the Guinness adjudicator as is Guinness protocol. The certificate is supposed to be presented on the spot. Curiously, there was no publicity video of this presentation, and Swell.com’s post-event recap only said it "is believed to be a new world record.” Hmmm.

No worries, Swell.com, your employee could still become the world-record holder if he follows the Guinness requirements for verification. Either way, you got the pub you wanted (or at least some; see above video from "Good Day L.A.," and listen to the "We assume a lot of shrinkage" comment by in-studio host Steve Edwards -- yikes!).

Listen, we take nothing away from Laity and his achievement -- 26 hours of continuous surfing? Crazy. Stupid. Fun. Way to go.

But really, it kinda amounts to a fraternity prank, where you tell a brother the record for eating hot chili peppers is 12 and he eats 13 only to find out there was no record.

As for Cannon, if his record becomes official, he’ll have to wait to see if it survives Laity’s application.

A funny aside: GWU-Today.com asked Cannon if he was worried about any ambitious surfers trying to break his record before he makes another attempt at a 24-hour surfing record.

“I feel kind of safe until next summer because no one’s going to try to do it during the winter,” he said.

Well, somebody did -- and beat you by a large margin. We think.

Now, if you guys want a really impressive surfing record to shoot for, try the one listed here.

Subscribe to Outdoors 720 by Email

Follow Outdoors720 on Twitter at @outdoors720

Other interesting posts...
Big-wave surfers catch 50-foot waves off...Ireland?
Skier Lindsey Vonn impersonates Sharon Stone
You won't guess what the Pope just blessed
Yellowstone's version of UFC: Bear vs. Bison

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Boy fishing in Australia reels in a stick of dynamite

Jokes about fishing with dynamite have been around as long as there has been fishing and dynamite. We laugh at the joke and then try to catch fish the old-fashioned way: with a rod and reel.

Who knew not everyone was joking?

A boy was fishing with his father on the bank of a river in Bassendean's Pickering Park in Perth, Australia, earlier this month when the kid made a startling catch, according to a Tuesday report from InMyCommunity.com.au.

At the end of his line was a white tube marked "explosive."

The report said that police were called to the scene and seized the object before notifying the bomb squad. Quite frankly, I believe I would have notified the bomb squad first, but, hey, that's just me.

Divers found several more explosives when conducting a search of the river.

Bomb response supervisor Sgt. Jodie Pearson told InMyCommunity that this was the first time in her 12 years with the bomb squad that explosives had been reported found in the river. She said police believed the explosives were dumped illegally, which begs this question: Could explosives ever be dumped legally?

Nobody knew where they had come from.

"The most likely thing is that someone just wanted to get rid of it and dumped them in the river," Pearson said.

Or somebody was fishing with dynamite, albeit unsuccessfully, which would sort of ruin all dynamite-fishing jokes in the future. 

The above photo of a fisherman in Vietnam kinda already proves it's not a joke.

Subscribe to Outdoors 720 by Email

Follow Outdoors720 on Twitter at @outdoors720  

Monday, November 22, 2010

Lindsey Vonn impersonates Sharon Stone for ESPN The Magazine

Lindsey Vonn made her name as the most successful ski racer in U.S. history, yet her talents go beyond the steep slopes.

The girl can act, as evidenced by her appearance on the final episode of "Law & Order" earlier this year.

And she can do a pretty good impersonation of actress Sharon Stone in "Basic Instinct," as evidenced by the photo to the right.

Vonn is the cover girl for the Nov. 29 issue of ESPN The Magazine and -- though she's already been on the "Today" show, "The Tonight Show," "The Oprah Winfrey Show" and "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" -- she is quite thrilled about the whole thing.

From Vonn's Facebook page:  "I'm really excited to be on the cover of this months ESPN magazine! In the picture I am impersonating Sharon Stone from the movie Basic Instinct. Here is a pic of the cover shot. What do you guys think, could I be her stunt double? :) LV."

Yes, you can Lindsey. For a closer look at the cover shoot, check out this video:

OK, now let's see Sharon Stone impersonate Lindsey Vonn on a ski slope.

Subscribe to Outdoors 720 by Email

Follow Outdoors720 on Twitter at @outdoors720  

Other interesting posts on Outdoors 720:
Red Sea shark attacks: One victim thought it was a dolphin
Kayaker terrified by shark
Skateboarding in Afghanistan

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Bicyclist stunt-artist video goes viral on YouTube

If there is such a thing as poetry on a bicycle, this is it.

As reported on GrindTV Outdoor the other day, street trials pro Danny MacAskill offers “a surreal, stunt-filled bicycle journey from Edinburgh, Scotland, to the rider’s hometown of Dunvegan in Skye.”

It's a video that belongs in some sort of festival for short films -- the Banff Film Festival, perhaps? The eight-minute film is called "Way Back Home," and here it is:

Subscribe to Outdoors 720 by Email

Follow Outdoors720 on Twitter at @outdoors720  

Thursday, November 18, 2010

You won’t guess what the Pope just blessed

One wouldn’t think Pope Benedict XVI cares one way or the other about snow skiing. Oh, but he does. In fact, he just blessed the sport.

MetroSnow.co.uk reported Wednesday that a group of Italian ski instructors visited the Pope at the Vatican on Monday. Pope Benedict raised his hands (maybe, we're not really sure) and he told the group:

Pope Benedict XVI
 "Your engagement as 'ski masters' helps to boost certain capacities, for example steadfastness in pursing aims, respect for the rules, tenacity in confronting and surmounting difficulties.

"In all sporting activities, a person understands better that their body should not be considered an object ... but that it allows them to express themselves and establish relations with others.

"In this way, the balance between the physical and spiritual dimensions leads one not to idolise [sic] the body but to respect it."

Wow. Thoughtful. Insightful. Incredible.

So was he actually blessing the sport of skiing or merely giving his blessing for people to enjoy the sport? Sounded like he blessed skiing. And skiers.

Either way, the Pope definitely approves of gliding down mountains of snow. And, yes, he was an avid skier in his younger days.

Wonder if he’d bless skydiving.

A nod of the ski cap to Outside  for the tip.

Subscribe to Outdoors 720 by Email
Follow Outdoors720 on Twitter at @outdoors720  

Other popular posts at Outdoors 720:
Maui shark-attack rescue caught on video
Great Outdoors Awards 2010
Wildlife rescue: Saving deer cost pair $90 apiece

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Escape from Alcatraz? No, just a boy taking a swim

Alcatraz Island, shown in this pachd.com photo, looks close to
the shores of San Francisco, but it's farther than it appears. 

A 9-year-old boy accomplished what Al Capone, George “Machine Gun” Kelly and hundreds of other prisoners could only hope to achieve but never did.

He swam two miles from Alcatraz Island to the shores of San Francisco.

On Sunday, Daniel Bessonov of Saratoga made the trip in 41 minutes, and he’d have been quicker had he and swim coach Jordan Wood, who swam with the boy, hadn’t overshot their target of Aquatic Park.

Instead, the two landed at a beach near the Golden Gate Yacht Club, adding a half-mile or more to what should have been a 1.5-mile swim.

The San Jose Mercury News documented the story and includes video of the swim on its post. Definitely worth a look.

Alcatraz was used as a federal penitentiary from 1934 to 1963 and during that time no prisoners ever escaped. They tried, of course, despite the strong and unpredictable currents of San Francisco Bay.

According to Wikipedia, 36 men (including two who tried to escape twice) made 14 unsuccessful escape attempts. Of those, six were shot and killed during their attempt and three were lost at sea.

Gary Emich, another swim coach who followed the pair in a boat, told the Mercury News: “It’s a myth and mystery, that’s its allure. You couldn’t escape from Alcatraz because of the sharks and cold water and the current.

“The treachery of the currents is what makes it dangerous. That’s why the prisoners couldn’t do it. They would have had to know the tide cycles.”

National Park Service photo
Advantage Bessonov. The waters appeared calm and inviting the day he swam. A week earlier and the currents would have been too strong, Wood said.

To be sure, Bessonov isn’t the first child to make the swim, but his coaches told the Mercury News it is unusual for a swimmer so young to want to challenge the rough waters.

Wearing a wetsuit, Bessonov handled the 57-degree water well. He also coped with swimming through jellyfish. “It felt like moving Jell-O,” he told the paper.

Bessonov, who made three practice swims in the bay, wasn’t nervous until the Zodiac carrying them to Alcatraz neared the island.

“Before I got in the boat, I thought, `I can handle this,’” he recalled. “But when I saw it was such a long distance, it was scary.”

But not as scary as it was for those who dreamt of escaping Alcatraz back in the day.

Obviously, the jitters melted away for Bessonov. He wants to try it again when he’s 10. But this time without a wetsuit.

Subscribe to Outdoors 720 by Email

Follow Outdoors720 on Twitter at @outdoors720  

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Outdoors Oddity: Boomerang returns to boy 4 months later

If you ever questioned whether a boomerang really works -- really makes a soaring U-turn and returns to sender -- well, question it no more. Here is absolute proof a boomerang really does come back to the person who throws it:

In this case, the thrower was 11-year-old Brenden Hale. As reported by the Everett (Wash.) Daily Herald,  Brenden tossed his boomerang into the air and it landed with a splash in the Skagit River in Mount Vernon. That was last June.

Brenden thought it was lost forever. But lo and behold, it returned, just like those things are supposed to do. Never mind that the return trip was, well, far more adventurous than return trips are supposed to be for boomerangs.

Last month, Brenden went duck hunting with his grandfather on the family property at Skagit Bay when he noticed a crusty-looking piece of wood on the beach. Of course it was the boomerang. Brenden recognized it by a notch on the back. It had floated down river 10 miles to where Brenden found his prized possession.

Brenden told his mom what all boomerang skeptics around the world need to hear: “Boomerangs really do come back!”

Subscribe to Outdoors 720 by Email
Follow Outdoors720 on Twitter at @outdoors720  

Other interesting posts on Outdoors 720:
Michael Keaton goes overboard
A weird state law: You can’t fish with your what?
Maui shark-attack rescue caught on video

The next Tony Hawk is already soaring to new heights

Move over Tony Hawk. For that matter, you too, Shaun White. A new skateboard phenom is in town and he is heading for stardom at the ripe old age of ... 7!

That's right, Asher Bradshaw just celebrated his 7th birthday last week and already he has a full head of steam toward super stardom in the world of skateboarding.

After all, Milk Boss Industries, which produced the video below, is already putting together a feature-length documentary on the boarding prodigy. A tip of the skateboard to Wired.com for that.

Even if you're not an action-sports fan, you'll enjoy the cute factor of this video. It's a 6-year-old Asher performing like veterans such as Hawk and White at a Venice, Calif., skateboard park:

All Asher needs now is a nickname. Birdman and the Flying Tomato are taken.

Subscribe to Outdoors 720 by Email

Monday, November 15, 2010

Video: Big-wave surfers catch 50-foot waves off ... Ireland?

Ireland is known for Guinness, leprechuans, golf, fly-fishing, the Blarney Stone, Irish stew, Oscar Wilde, luck and eyes that smile. Who knew surfing was in the mix?

Surfing? In Ireland?

It’s true, and the waves in the frigid waters off some secret Irish location last week were enough to give Mavericks off the California coast a run for the money.

Waves reportedly reached 50-feet high, and the big-wave surfers were out in force to ride them, as the video news report from a few days ago shows. Take a look:

Apparently, they called the waves Prowlers -- or maybe that's the place. It's somewhere on the West Coast of Ireland. Anyway, very cool video of some very cold surfers.

A shout-out to Adventure Journal for the tip.

Subscribe to Outdoors 720 by Email

Follow Outdoors720 on Twitter at @outdoors720  

Friday, November 12, 2010

Yellowstone's version of UFC: The Bear vs. The Bison

Perhaps blogger Timothy B. Hurst captured the moment best when he wrote, “Why did the bison cross the road? To get the hell away from the 800-pound grizzly trying to eat him.”

Ah, what a wonderful display of nature, though probably not for the buffalo trying to evade a very hungry grizzly bear at Yellowstone National Park. Talk about a Kodak moment. (We do talk about those still, don't we?)

As reported by KRTV.com, Alex Wypyszinski, a park employee whose hobby is photographing wildlife, had just dropped off his wife at work and had some time to kill, so he went searching for wildlife.

While parked on the side of a deserted road, he heard a noise from behind him, something sounding like a horse and carriage. He turned around and saw a “Discovery Channel” episode unfolding before his eyes and started shooting.

The photos -- 14 in all, and taken last April -- surfaced on the Internet last week, prompting park officials to confirm the authenticity of the photos.

“I thought I was having a hallucination or something,” Wypyszinski told KRTV.com. “[And] I couldn’t believe what that buffalo looked like.”

The bison was badly burned from wandering into one of the park’s numerous geothermal features. It eventually got away from the bear, but rangers were forced to put it down because of its injuries, according to the report.

“I’ve seen plenty of bear, and more buffalo,” Wypyszinski told KRTV. “But I’ve never seen anything like that before.”

See more yourself by visiting The Huffington Post, which has a CNN video report about the story. More photos can be seen at KRTV.

Subscribe to Outdoors 720 by Email
Follow Outdoors720 on Twitter at @outdoors720  

Other interesting posts on Outdoors 720:
Maui shark-attack rescue caught on video
How to solve crime: A past president has the answer
A weird state law: You can’t fish with your what?

Video: See a dog go fishing and catch a salmon

Every once in a while, like last week, the Skokomish River in the state of Washington will overflow its banks and improve the fishing dramatically on nearby streets.

As you will see in this video, every dog has its day of excellent salmon fishing when flooding occurs:

Naturally, this video made the rounds on all the local TV stations in the Seattle area, such as KIRO 7, and even made CNN. As we understand it, the dog's name is Honey.

So, yes, you might say this was a Honey of a fishing hole. But we won't. 

Subscribe to Outdoors 720 by Email

Follow Outdoors720 on Twitter at @outdoors720  

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Lost at sea for four years, they finally wash up on the beach

After being lost at sea for four years, they washed up on a beach no worse for wear, housed in a waterproof container like a message in a bottle.

Only this wasn’t a bottle, it was a waterproof camera and “they” were photographs taken by divers who were lost and tossed at sea off the Australian coast -- on the same outing.

Last Wednesday, The Daily Telegraph had the incredible story, which began on Dec. 23, 2006.

Scuba divers Peter Trayhurn and Geoff Tosio found themselves lost at sea upon surfacing and finding their dive boat’s anchor line had snapped. The boat had drifted away, and they were left helplessly bobbing on the surface five miles off the coast, just north of Sydney.

They spent more than four hours clinging together and fearing they’d never be found. Then, one of them decided to pass the time by taking photos. What better way to break the monotony (or thoughts about sharks)?

“I thought, ‘This is a pretty interesting experience, I should take a few photos,’” Trayhurn told The Daily Telegraph. So he did.

Fortunately, despite rough seas, the two were spotted by a tanker, rescued and returned to their drifting dive boat.

Unfortunately, their dive boat capsized trying to navigate the treacherous swells of Wooli Bar at port. They were tossed overboard. They were lucky not to have lost their lives in the wild and Wooli waters of the Bar.