by Michael Ambrose
Ryan Greenhalgh stands on the edge of a cliff, staring into the water below as the wind whips through his hair.
Taking a deep breath, he musters his courage and leaps into the great unknown.
Greenhalgh, a sophomore business major, is part of the growing movement towards pushing the envelope.
“Everyone who jumps off a cliff of any height is very hesitant,” Greenhalgh said. “But I have found that everyone who actually does it, is extremely stoked afterwards. Once they really do it they realize it’s not that hard.”
Extreme sports, like cliff jumping, have been slowly growing in popularity over the last several years, and now, with the recent advent of the GoPro cameras, the popularity of previously thought of as dangerous or crazy activities are becoming very popular.
GoPro, is a brand of high-definition cameras, built to handle and shoot extreme action that can be mounted on top of a skiers, or motorcycles helmet.
“I think GoPro cameras and that whole media part of extreme sports has just popped,” said junior creative producing major Matt Rebong, who uses a GoPro camera to film his downhill long boarding. “The public attention and public interest in extreme sports are at an all-time high. People are finally interested, they want to go rock climbing, or whatever, and use their GoPro camera to document it.”
Scott Shaffstall, a Chapman graduate, and current MBA student, believes that the GoPro offers a perspective of extreme sports previously unseen.
“I think it [GoPro] has given people a perspective of extreme sports that they would have had to experience firsthand,” Shaffstall said. “It’s opened up a world that not everyone is aware of, and now that people can see what is really like they’ll more inclined to try it out.”
Shaffstall has used his GoPro to film himself snowboarding, snorkeling and while dirt biking. Shaffstall said that he had been participating in some level of extreme sports most of his life, and uses the GoPro to remember his experiences.
“I use it [GoPro] to relive the experience myself, and to share it with my friends and family,” Shaffstall, who also appreciates how easy the device, is to use, said. “It’s so streamlined and efficient, you take the footage plug into lap top, and it’s there.”
Shaffstall is enjoys using his GoPro camera so much, after losing one in Cabo San Lucas, he had to get another one.
“I use them so often, that I had to get another one in a matter of weeks,” Shaffstall said.
Like Shaffstall, Greenhalgh has been partaking in outdoor activities much of his life, growing up the outdoor playground that is Colorado.
“I just like doing fun and interesting outdoor activities,” Greenhalgh said. “I grew up with the mountains. My parents started taking me to the slopes when I was three.”
Even with plenty of outdoor experience, Greenhalgh was nervous about cliff jumping for the first time.
“I get scared pretty easily, but I like to get scared. I like to overcome the fear,” Greenhalgh said. “It [cliff jumping] definitely takes a certain kind of person. It is not for everybody.”
Rebong and his brother started long boarding when he watched Youtube videos featuring downhill high-speed long boarding six years ago.
“I do very, very controlled downhill runs,” Rebong said. “We do it in a safe manner, with follow cars, and people posted as lookouts. When you see long board accidents on the Internet, it’s mostly beginners who think they’re bad ass.”
However, Rebong has been unable to find a group of long boarders like himself at Chapman.
“There are not a lot of us at Chapman, though there are a couple at UC Irvine,” Rebong said.
Greenhalgh, who took a group of friends to Newport Beach earlier in the semester to do some cliff jumping, has plans to keep those types of activities going at Chapman.
“It’s nothing super technical, it’s stuff anyone can do,” Greenhalgh said. “I know people will enjoy it if they try it.”