Extreme sports bring out the best in athletes

Extreme sports capture the imagination of all spectators. They have also become the hallmark of a new generation of athletes.

Recently the Mountain Dew Winter Tour competed at Mount Snow, Vermont. Olympic veterans and teenage newcomers hit the slopes for four days of exciting freestyle skiing and snowboarding.

The athletes are as interesting as their sport. Those from winter climates have been on the mountain since they began to walk. They are unconventional in appearance, motivation and approach to sports.

“These competitors are divided equally between gender and range in age from 15 to 35 years old. All are in excellent physical condition. They have no off-season because it’s always snowing somewhere,” said B. J. Caretta, the Mountain Dew Tour director.

Financial reward is not a motivating factor since prize money and sponsorship support is miniscule when compared to the big three of baseball, basketball and football.

As in all extreme sports, these activities are physically demanding. Airborne maneuvers like the “Ollie,” “Backside Rodeo” and “Half Cab” require tremendous core body strength and coordination. Often competitions are held at high altitudes where oxygenation demands are greater.

Despite the competitive nature of sports, these individuals are very supportive of each other and are challenged more by pushing the limits of their abilities than by scoring points.

Extreme winter athletes are passionate about their sport and respectful of all those involved, including support staff and fans. They mingle with the crowds in between events, hold free clinics for children and contribute to local charities as part of their tour.

Psychologically, athletes who combine passion and a sense of giving back to their sport have the most satisfying and successful careers. Retired professional athletes rarely consider money as a yardstick for success.

Sports today have developed into a way of earning a living. In some sports, it is more about a lifestyle that all athletes can learn from.

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