July 24, 2015 | 8:18 am | By Pants Up Easy
If you’ve watched the sports classic Remember The Titans (starring Denzel Washington), you remember the catastrophic car accident that renders star linebacker Gary Bertier paralyzed. While recovering in the hospital and trying to grasp his fate, Bertier notes hopefully: “You know, I’ve been reading on activities for people in wheelchairs and such,” he says. “They’ve got Olympics.”
Although Bertier was trying to console himself, he was still absolutely right: taking place every four years, the Paralympic Games allow disabled individuals to compete in athletic events against one another. And that’s not all that wheelchair-bound folks have available to them.
So to answer the question in the headline, yes, you can still compete in extreme sports in a wheelchair. Here are a few examples of what you can look forward to:
If you’re unfamiliar with kiteboarding, it’s fairly self-explanatory: you stand on a wakeboard or small surfboard while holding onto a power kite, then you let the wind guide you across the water. Well, seated kiteboarding takes that activity and amps up the adrenaline, because now you’re seated on the wakeboard. Sound slightly insane and reckless? Well, that’s extreme isn’t it?
And if you prefer to be chilly while risking your life, you can also try seated kite snowboarding (video contains some NSFW language).
So technically it’s not an extreme sport, but it’s still a thrilling adventure that a wheelchair can’t keep you from. You’ll be strapped to a pro skydiver, who will guide you as you plummet thousands of feet through the air.
It was hard to think of a title for this one, but what I’m basically talking about is taking your wheelchair up and down ramps, like at a skate park. Sounds pretty difficult, doesn’t it? Well tell that to 22-year-old Aaron Fotheringham, who likes to get air as he careens down ramps at the local skate park in Irving, Texas.
This sport was featured in the popular documentary “Murderball,” which was quite appropriately named. Conventional rugby is violent and cutthroat, and the wheelchair version is no different. But instead of just having their fists at their disposal, wheelchair rugby players can use their chairs to inflict pain on opponents. The results are predictably wild and entertaining.