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What Is The Oldest Extreme Sport — Is It Still Popular Today?



What Is The Oldest Extreme Sport Is It Still Popular Today?

Extreme sports aren’t usually about being first. Scrapes and bruises are the only things resembling an official score, and most practitioners will tell you they do it for the thrill, the discovery and the challenge. However, the question of “Who’s first?” can lead to some interesting stories, so let’s look at who is first on the podium today, and then see who was first on the scene!


What is the most popular extreme sport in the U.S. today?

A recent study by Storage Cafe looked at how interest in extreme sports evolved over the past year, as restrictions continue to wind down and people settle into a new life. According to the study, the three big sports that attracted the most interest from Americans were skateboarding, mountain biking and rock climbing.

Skateboarding absolutely dominates the rankings on average, there were 600,000 online searches for skateboarding each and every month in the U.S. Nevermind California, skateboarding claimed the entire Sun Belt and then some!

Across the Western United States wherever skateboarding wasn’t on everyone’s minds mountain biking took the top spot. Legendary trails like those in Moab in Utah, Hermosa Creek in Colorado and, of course, all of “Wydaho” made sure of that.

But the top two spots may not remain on the podium for long. Searches for both sports got fewer and fewer as the study’s 12 months progressed. Is it a sign that the rankings will change in the next years?

It’s tough to say, but that’s not what’s happening to the third most popular extreme sport! Rock climbing searches skyrocketed over the course of the year, nearly doubling in volume! If that sounds nuts, wait until you hear about Alaska searches for rock climbing in The Great Land increased five times over!

But the Big Three didn’t win everywhere. Kansas and Missouri favor the longboard over the skateboard, and New Hampshire seems to be proportionally more interested in surfing than California.

It’s easy to understand their popularity when you also think of the relatively low cost of entry for these extreme sports. However, there are others that require more investment, maintenance and care for equipment, not to mention proper storage for off-seasons. In Florida, for example, jet skiing is the top extreme sport in online searches, while in North Dakota, Minnesota and Maine the best way to get your kicks is by snowmobile.


What was the first ever extreme sport?

Now we know which are the most popular today, but which extreme sport is the oldest? If you’re a big fan of bungee jumping, you might argue that your favorite was the first. In Vanuatu, men jump from wooden towers up to 100 feet high, with elastic vines tied around their ankles. While the exact dates aren’t known, it’s been going on for a few centuries at least!

But a few centuries aren’t going to cut it. We need to rewind back a few millennia!

You’ve probably heard of volcano boarding and were then promptly disappointed to learn it didn’t mean riding a surfboard over molten lava. Today, you can head out to Nicaragua and ride your board or sled down the volcanic slopes of Cerro Negro, but for 2,000 years, Hawaiians have been doing that right in their homeland, using long and slender sleds to descend the volcanic slopes.

But skiing goes back even further than that 8000 years back, in fact, as the first archaeological findings would suggest. No word yet on whether they used them for sick jumps, but they certainly proved useful for hunting and crossing terrain efficiently.

You may think that’s it, but there is one more and it blows all others out of the water by a factor of hundreds. The oldest possible extreme sport is an activity we’ve been doing since before we discovered fire!

Depending on how far back you’re willing to go, rock climbing, and climbing in general, has been essential to human life since before we were even human. It allowed us to shelter from predators, reach riper fruit and greener valleys, look out over the land, wonder at the possibilities and cross the barriers of our surroundings to conquer the world.

It’s no wonder rock climbing is riding a new wave of popularity. We’ve had it in our genes allalong!


We hope you enjoyed the article ‘What Is The Oldest Extreme Sport — Is It Still Popular Today?’ What is your favourite extreme sport? Let us know!


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Jacob graduated with a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Reading. An avid footballer, he spent time under the FAW academy programme as well as Cardiff Corinthians. Later going on to play for his university and Wellington United whilst residing in New Zealand. He currently resides in Frome, Somerset. You can contact him at [email protected]


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