By Bernd Hassmann
October, 10th. Catania, Italy
A very special event was taking place on the beautiful Island of Sicily: RedBull Airlines. It was already the third edition of a very unusual slackline competition sponsored by elephant slacklines where tricklines were set up high in the air (8m/25ft) above a big airbag. In order to impress the judges one had to demonstrate the ability to be creative with line transfers, show hard tricklining and bring style and variety to one’s performance.
The main difference between regular tricklining and performing on “Airlines” is that you don´t touch the ground with your heels, which is a big help when it comes to get some stability during your combos. Adaption is key here! What else is different? Obviously the height. You could really see who had participated in previous Airlines competitions and which contestant was new to this sort of format. But everybody got the chance to get comfortable with the height during their training runs. Last but not least there was a time limit for each run – 3 minutes; managing the pressure to compromise between not losing time in the course and showing hard tricks, always knowing that if you fall off, your run is over.
Every contestant had to navigate through the course, consisting of various lines. Starting off with a single, upward heading 35mm (1.4”) line, the athletes then arrived at their first challenge – transferring to a crossing 50mm (2”), which was set up half a meter (1.5ft) lower. The guys already showed some great ideas handling the first hurdle. Now it was time to go big on the single, diagonal line: freefalls, spins, any kind of buttflips – everyone scored hard there! But the next obstacle was straight ahead. Doing a transfer on one of the parallel slacklines. For the grand finale the athletes had to pull out the big guns, and they definitely weren’t afraid. Fearless and 540 transfers, backtastic, double buttflips, backflips feet to feet…it was all there!
In the end Mickey Wilson impressed the judges the most. With his solid run he toolk 1st, winning the prize money of 1500€. “Red Bull Airlines (RBAL) is the most ground breaking competition in the world of slacklining,” says Mickey, who also won the Red Bull Baylines competition this summer in San Francisco. “It takes tricklining to the air by requiring the competitors to perform their tricks much higher than normal situations.”
In 2nd place (1000€) we had Tauri Vahesaar, Jaan Roose completed the podium as 3rd (500€).
Bernd Hassmann has been slacklining for 9 years (2006), is a former trickline WorldCup participant and now works for elephant slacklines as team manager.
Photos courtesy of elephant slacklines.