It looks almost like a dance.
Hands wave from side to side overhead as his feet glide over the webbing, seeming to float in the air with ethereal grace. At the end of the line he turns sideways, bounces once as if on a trampoline and becoming airborne in a back flip before his feet land firmly back on the ground.
When asked why he likes to Slackline, Will Zimmermann a senior environmental studies major, said “I do it for the back flip,” but added, “I also like how it is really good for your brain!”
Slacklining is a sport of movement and balance, while requiring a Zen yoga mentality. It usually involves a piece of tubular climbing webbing of varied thickness strung between two stationary anchors, such as trees. Slackliners walk along on the webbing.
It was first pioneered in the Yosemite Valley by climbers over twenty years ago, but only recently has it seemed to really take off.
On a given day at the Norlin Quad, there may be multiple lines set up simultaneously on different parts of the field, all of them jam packed with slackers and spectators. Having just gotten into the sport myself over the summer I decided to set up my own line to see what kind of attention I attracted.
I started setting up my line daily on and around the Norlin Quad. Everyday immediately after setting it up people stopped to watch as I tediously tried to make my way from one end to the other. Most people stared at me as though I was some kind of circus freak but I was also surprised by how many people stopped to ask if they could hop on. I quickly found out that there is no such thing as a solitary slacker on the CU campus; I made new friends daily.
Most of the people I met were beginners such as myself who had a hard time just standing up, not to mention taking a few steps. When asked what it felt like the first time he stepped on a slackline, fellow slacker and junior fine arts major Matthew Ziemke replied, “I was completely out of my element, I couldn’t stand on it.”
Some people I met, such as Zimmermann, had honed their skills to near perfection. The first time we met he promptly jumped from the ground onto the line, walked from one end and then back, dismounting with a back flip. Eager to learn, I asked him for pointers and in no time I too was jumping from the ground onto the line.
Slackers always seem eager to offer advice and to help the inexperienced. I have yet to meet a slacker who is stuck up about their talents. This social aspect of slacklining is great, with people pushing each other to excel all the while having a blast.
Sarah Lockwood, a senior communication major, describes slacklining as, “walking on a trampoline of focus without boundaries.”
Focusing seems to be the main theme people bring up most about the sport, it seems to calm the mind. For it is only after your mind is clear that you can truly feel what it means to be in balance with the line, which for me feels like dancing on air.