RED BULL AIRLINES 2013
Red Bull Airlines combines Tricklining with highlining. Our Teammember Friedi Kühne was one of the participants chosen to take part in this event. Together with the best trickliners of the world he roamed the Italian lanes.
I remember when at some point during our highline-trip in southern France Lukas Irmler said to me something like: “Keep some free days around the 14th of June. It's my birthday and I'm planning a really crazy event.”
He didn't want to reveal any details yet, except that highlining AND tricklining were going to come together - just my favorites amongst all the different variations of slacklining.
A couple of weeks later I got an official invitation from Red Bull. I think you can all imagine just how excited I was about this event.
A slackline course with jumplines 7m high and a security net below... Nothing like this has ever been set up before! Just according to Red Bull's taste.
The 1200 km long drive with the Elephant caravan turned out to be less exciting. Then again, with Benni, Flo and Max as fellow passengers we still had a lot of fun. Until we got lost in Naples (right, Max...) and were forced to experience the art of driving the Italian way. Another funny moment was when I asked a bunch of Italians for the way and none of them was able to speak even the slightest bit of English. (which of course didn't stop them from talking insistently and wildly gesticulating to me for 5 minutes)
But I'm getting off the point, this was supposed to be about Red Bull Airlines. Lukas had made no empty promises; the spot really looked remarkable! In a typically Italian alley there were Slacklines set up crisscross from one house to the other, so that they were easily mistaken for laundry lines from far.
Naturally, we were all eager to get going. Friday was the day when we were finally allowed to practice on the lines. Mickey Wilson went first and it was clear that he already had some experience in high-tricklining. Already during his first run he jumped from one line to the other, did some buttbounce-chestbounce-combos and even some one leg surfing one the lower lines.
At first, slacklining in 7m height without the reassuring feeling of a leash was quite an unusual feeling for me. It kind of reminded me of waterlining, only way higher and in an urban environment.
But after some minutes on the lines I relaxed and started doing jumps and buttbounce-combos.
The feeling was incredible! None of us wanted to stop, the more so as falling into the net turned out to be quite comfortable. Soon we started experimenting around and doing combos from one line to the other, etc.
In this height, the easiest trick for me (besides statics and surfing) was the backbounce. As you are unable to see the ground beneath you anyway, there was no real difference to a backbounce on a normal lowline, and I was able to land basically every try. This also led to me trying the first backbounce-transfer. In the middle of the course there was one line set up about a half meter above the other, and from that one I dropped backwards onto the lower one. The first try went surprisingly well: I landed with both feet on the lower line and instinctively grabbed the upper one for a second.
Maybe it would have worked without that :)
Soon the training showed us who really felt comfortable enough in the air, to pull off some crazy tricks. My definite favorites were Brenden and Max. Tricks such as freefall, buttflip and flatspin were absolutely no problem for them.
These two guys and Mickey also came closest to sticking the backflip: they all brought both feet back to the line after the flip and were even able to catch before falling (which is not that easy on a tight 2-inch jumpline).
Unfortunately there was not much time for practicing, because we always had to wait until the net was completely clear. Walking through the net was quite hard; just imagine walking through a swamp drunken or something like that...
The contest that we all had been waiting for took place on Saturday. Each participant got 2 runs of 3 minutes and only the best run counted. Falling into the net before the 3-minute-mark meant bad luck for the slackliner because then the run was over.
And unfortunately that's exactly what I did: after some statics, surfing and transfers I already wanted to try the backbounce transfer in my first run. But unlike during the training, that one was a complete flop :-D (as you can plainly see in the video)
Thus I landed in the net after roughly 1,5 minutes - too bad, but who gives a damn! My second run turned out better and I was able to do some tricks on each of the lines. My initial plan was to attempt a backflip as the last trick but unfortunately I didn't get that far. (Next year I'll definitely go for it!!!)
After my runs I was completely exhausted and just wanted to chill and watch the others. What an amazing event! Until that point, I had only experienced so much fun and thrill during my very first highline attempts.
The crowd was equally stoked. The narrow alley at the Naples seaside was full of people and many even watched from their balconies, which made the whole scenery look even more “picturesque”.
Max, Brenden and Mickey were pulling off one crazy trick after the other. But eventually, Benni started to rage. This was quite a surprise to most of us and I think even for himself, because initially during the training he had some problems with doing his buttbounce combos without the slight contact to the ground (just like me). However during his last run he all of a sudden landed some very difficult tricks: clean feet-to-feet 360s and transfers, backbounce and as his final trick the first and ONLY clean backflip of the whole event!!! RESPECT BENNI!
However, also the time that we didn't spend on the lines was totally awesome! Every day Red Bull invited us to lunch and dinner in one of the local restaurants! I think I don't have to go into detail about the world-renowned Italian cuisine...
Overall, that was the best time: the shared evenings, the conversations in different languages, the “socializing” basically. It was of course quite an international event: three Germans, two Americans, two Czech, one Brazilian, one Italian and one Austrian; not to mention all the Italian Red Bull staff.
The after show party really would have deserved a separate report, or even a video! But as the saying goes: what happens in Naples stays in Naples. I just want to say this: at around midnight Red Bull drove us all to the probably most awesome club of Naples. A giant open air area directly at the beach, with bars, stages, DJs and a vast dancefloor under the stars. In a VIP area we were offered one drink after the other, which of course contributed a lot to the general mood. After several hours of dancing, many funny conversations and various acrobatic shenanigans at the beach, one thing was certain: slackliners know how to party!
Overall, Red Bull Airlines was one of the most awesome events I have been to, in fact altogether one of the best experiences ever! I can hardly wait for the next time!
Thank you, Red Bull Italy for making this whole thing possible,
thanks to the great judges Elli Schulte, Jan Galek and Reini Kleindl,
thanks to Lukas Irmler for months of planing, organization and for the invitation,
thanks to Bernd Hassmann for setting the course up,
and thanks to Giorgio Carafa Cohen for taking care of our accommodation, food and the after show party!
Big thanks to Brenden Gebhart, Mickey Wilson, Danny Menšík , Lukáš Černý, Carlos Neto, Lukas Huber, Benni Schmidt, Max Hess and Florian Ebner for an unforgettable time!!!
In the true sense of the word: Slacklife!