Extreme Sports Pack a Punch: Participants and fans are drawn to adrenaline-packed events

Extreme sports venues

Adrenaline junkies are always looking for a new, better, more-exhilarating sport, a different extreme of an old sport or a more-heart-pounding, less-boring way of putting their bodies to the athletic test.  Today’s extreme sports pack a punch. Whether base jumping, kiteboarding, parkour or other adrenaline-fueled activities, sports that push limits continue to grow in popularity.

“Extreme sports account for about 60 percent of our activity year-round,” said Lorrie Love, tourism sales and events manager for the Outer Banks (NC) Visitors Bureau, who said extreme sports draw hundreds of athletes, their families and spectators to the area, and keep her and public relations manager Aaron Tuell busy with a full schedule of profitable events. These elite athletes have husbands, wives, kids and parents who usually come along. For them, convenience is important. Attendees swell the attendance numbers, making sports that classify themselves as “extreme” a staple for markets across the country in destinations that look beyond traditional venues.

The Outer Banks of North Carolina draws a variety of extreme sports throughout the year, including the upcoming 13th Annual Wind Voyager Triple-S Invitational, a wake-style kiteboarding competition in which athletes and fans from around the globe compete during the June 2 – 8 event. “The Wind Voyager Triple-S is the top wake-style kiteboarding invitation-only competition,” Tuell said. “The unique shoreline formations help to make the Outer Banks a perfect spot for water sports. We consistently have the biggest waves in the U.S. There is a science to our success here … the sound is very shallow but there are giant waves on the other side of the island; consistent waves bring in the crowds.”

Trip Forman, co-founder and co-director of the Wind Voyager Triple-S, adds: “The event takes place in the Pamlico body of the sound with over 300 days a year of kiteboarding winds. We can use those winds from any direction … the shallow water of the sound provides the best conditions for wake-style boarding and for the training sessions that occur here as well.” Very few events allow a fan to watch an extreme sport and then participate in it almost immediately. That can happen at this event with clinics and workshops, which could put a beginner wakeboarder in one of the camps next to some of the world’s top athletes.

Prize money for the winner is $50,000. But the money and competition are not the only things to draw a crowd. Each year the competition and after-parties are open to the public where athletes and fans can mingle while enjoying top-notch entertainment. If fees are charged, all profits are donated to the Hatteras Island Youth Educational Fund (HIYEF). The fund supports local secondary-education students by providing equipment, supplies and experiences. Musical talent for this year’s event include The Dubplates, Ky-Mani Marley and The Roots from “The Tonight Show.” To find out more, visit www.triplesinvitational.com.

A hallmark of extreme sports events seems is the entertainment and experience in addition to the competition. “Extreme sports tend to bring in younger crowds,” said Kim Insley, public relations and communication manager for Meet Minneapolis. “Having the X Games in downtown Minneapolis gives fans access to terrific nightlife, wonderful restaurants, craft breweries, a wide variety of hotels and light rail – public transportation that connects downtown Minneapolis to MSP International Airport, so fans don’t need a car to get to the action.” “The ESPN X Games brought 110,000 attendees to downtown Minneapolis where events took place both inside and outside U.S. Bank Stadium. This was a worldwide showcase for Minneapolis with more than 240 million people watching from some 200 countries and territories worldwide,” she said. “ESPN’s own study indicated the 2017 X Games had an economic impact of more than $50 million on the area. We look forward to the X Games here through 2020. “U.S. Bank Stadium offered athletes the chance to be protected from wind and rain and have an open-air feeling thanks to the unique design of the stadium. The stadium was designed with the largest pivoting glass doors in the world, some nearly 100 feet high.”

Patrick Talty, U.S. Bank Stadium’s general manager, said, “Extreme sports bring the facility to life in a different kind of way, utilizing the stadium’s footprint both indoors and outdoors depending on the time of year. For instance, the X Games built two competition ramps into the seating sections of the stadium bowl last year, allowing fans to be very close to the athletes. The mix of events that they were able to do side-by-side in the stadium was very impressive and provided an opportunity for athletes to watch their friends and competitors in alternate competitions without having to travel to another location. It’s especially fun to work on extreme sporting events as these clients push the boundaries on creativity, while creating memorable experiences for guests, athletes and staff alike.”

Insley added, “Athletes told us they loved having all of the events on a relatively small footprint. Minneapolis, with U.S. Bank Stadium and The Commons, a large outdoor park adjacent to the stadium, allowed fans and athletes the opportunity to interact in a way that is uncommon for most sporting events.” Every year Minneapolis hosts the U.S. Pond Hockey Championships on Lake Nokomis. On the most extreme side for the region, this winter St. Paul hosted its 7th Red Bull Crashed Ice event, kicking off the season’s Ice Cross Downhill Championship. Starting at the steps of the Cathedral of St. Paul, the event packs more than a 100,000 people into downtown St. Paul every year.But extreme sports can take a toll on athletes. Just a few moments and an online video search can help a novice understand the dangers associated with risking life and limb in pursuit of personal and physical goals. Danny Chi, director of communications for Global X Games and West Coast publicity, said, “X Games Medical is [composed] of a multi-disciplinary team including, but not limited to, EMT crews and ambulances, a medical director and assistant medical director, an orthopedic surgeon, a staff of trained sports medicine professionals and certified trainers who specialize in action sports injuries, as well as safety and security teams.”

One consistent theme resounds with the professionals who book these events: if you have the facilities to accommodate one of these extreme events, make it happen.