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The first time I witnessed my roommates slack-lining, I thought that they would end up street performing or joining the circus.
But their hobby is a growing phenomenon. If you watched this year’s Super Bowl Halftime show, you may have seen slacklining pioneer Andy Lewis perform with Madonna. Now the sport is expanding around the CU campus. Slackers can be found in the fields at Williams Village and Norlin Quad between any two trees. Every Friday afternoon around one, the school’s very own Slacklining Club meets behind Hale to partake.
At first glance, slacklining looks like tight rope walking, but it’s much different. A slackline is 1-inch or 2-inch webbing that is latched between two trees or vertical supports. The line is less taught than a tight rope, giving the line dynamic movement like that of a trampoline.
Zach Duckworth, an 18-year-old freshman business major and slack-lining fanatic, explained that slacklining started in the 1980s in the Yosemite Valley by climbers who walked on chains. Over time, chains evolved into webbing that was eventually made tighter. Slacklinging then developed into other forms, such as slackline yoga, urbanlining, tricklining and highlining.
“I’m always amazed at these people, they can do things I would have never imagined before.” 19-year-old junior chemical engineering major and member Peter Chen said (though he did have some tricks up his sleeve).
Members make slacklining look easy. However, there is no need for newcomers to be intimidated. Spencer Roberts, a 22-year-old junior ecology and evolution major, said the club creates a very friendly community.
“Everyone wants to help each other get better,” Roberts said.
Peter Wanberg, a 20-year-old junior business management major, said he was intrigued by the club when he saw them practicing on campus, so he decided to try it out.
“It’s the first time I’ve been out here, and I’ve already learned something.” Wanberg said.
Their impressive display often deceives people who have never slacklined before. For many, getting up on the line is a challenge. Weston Roberts, a 19-year-old sophomore international affairs major, said that getting used to the line takes “practice and diligence.”
“It exercises both the mind and the body,” Roberts said. “The entire sport is about conquering your fears.”
For many slackers, it’s more than just hard work. For Duckworth, it is a type of meditation and stress relief.
“No other sport requires the razor of focus that slacklining does,” Duckworth said. “You have to learn to rotate your body in all sorts of movements and land back on 1-inch or 2-inch webbing.”
If you want to experience this dynamic sport, the club allows anyone to join at any time. All you have to do is show up. Their Facebook group is open to all and has information about both formal and informal meetings.
Aside from the club’s weekly meetings, there will be another opportunity to participate on Oct. 12. The club will be holding a fundraiser, Slacking For Trees, to preserve rain forests that have been slashed and burned. The event will be held at Norlin Quad with a $15 fee for those who would like to compete.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Sharon Cleere at Sharon.firstname.lastname@example.org.