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When you think about “extreme sports,” you probably have loud music and an energy-drink logo in mind. Skydiving isn’t like that, though. It’s definitely different from your mental image of “extreme”–and it’s different in ways you’re going to like.
Before we get into this, we have to define the phrase “extreme sport.” We would argue that any physical discipline is “extreme” when it forces you to acknowledge your place on the risk continuum. An extreme sport isn’t a casual pursuit. It requires its athletes to train–to stay current, honing skills and learning obsessively–in order to stay in one piece. It forces focus. It invites interdisciplinary cross-training. It encourages venturing out into the world in pursuit of new places to pollinate its practices. It fosters the development of new equipment; new methods; new modalities.
Most of all, though, an extreme sport cultivates the bonds between its practitioners. The difficulties and dangers of the sport–as well as the soaring highs–tend to crystallize communities. An extreme sport fertilizes adventure with love. Sure, that sounds like hippie nonsense, maybe–but ask anybody up here in the sky. They’ll tell you it’s true.
How does skydiving stack up to the other sports in the deck, then? Let’s take a look.
Most sports that are recognizably “extreme” require the athlete to come prepared with significant prior experience and gear. Take mountaineering, for example: You’d better be a badass rock climber, handy with a rope, comfortable at altitude and fully kitted with ultra lightweight bivvy stuff. (And you’d better be able to hike circles around your standard gym bunny, to boot.) Want to try free diving? I hope you’ve been swimming since babyhood and working on your breath holds for years. All the scuba experience goes without saying, no? Even paragliding-which is rather comparable to skydiving, as far as the tandem experience-requires days in a classroom before you can even stand on a rolling hill and hold your own wing overhead.
So here’s the thing: On inspection, most of the sports that qualify as “extreme” come with an experiential price of entry, even if you’re just looking for a taster session. Skydiving, however, miraculously does not. While it’s a done thing to spend every weekend from now until eternity getting awesomer at it, you can technically make a skydive under your own parachute on the very first day you show up. That’s a pretty fun fact.
As knowing the future is rather, well, impossible–we only have the statistics of the past to guide us as to the advisability of our actions. That said: being able to look at well-collated statistics to guide decision-making is a benefit available in very few “extreme” sports. If you look into this, you’ll quickly discover that extreme sport safety records have a tendency to range from non-existent to totally unscientific.
With skydiving, however, you have the numbers to know what you’re getting into. Here, the Federal Aviation Administration the USPA, or United States Parachute Association have been carefully collecting data for many decades. The USPA has compiled that data into a very navigable, well-organized format. You can have a look at all of it yourself, right now.
Most “extreme” sports are lone-wolf activities, right? Skydiving–well–isn’t. A skydive is less like a lonely summit and more like a cross between a carefully choreographed dance number and a freefalling frat party. It’s full of hugs and high-fives and smiles, and a weekend day (in the summertime, at least) generally ends around a barbecue, with someone getting pushed into the pool. Skydiving athletes tend to be warm, friendly, and inviting to new jumpers. At the Wisconsin Skydiving Center, we take special pride in our welcoming atmosphere and our come-on-in community.
Ready to give extreme sports a shot? We recommend skydiving! We sure do hope you’ll consider making your first-ever jump at the Wisconsin Skydiving Center.