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Daredevils push boundaries in film series

By: Anna Borowiecki

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Oct 10, 2012 06:00 am

SPEED CLIMBING – Reel Rock: Race For The Nose is a film about climbers racing to be the fastest to scale the Nose route of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park.
SPEED CLIMBING – Reel Rock: Race For The Nose is a film about climbers racing to be the fastest to scale the Nose route of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park.
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Radical Reels
Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival
Sunday, Oct. 14 at 7 p.m.
Arden Theatre
Tickets: $20/adults; $15/students.
Call 780-459-1542 or purchase online at

Are extreme sport enthusiasts putting a claim on fame, or is the triumph of achievement their main goal?

Many seasoned professional stunt athletes risk life and limb to perform jaw-dropping feats that leave devoted fans in awe.

Seemingly devoid of a centre of gravity, these thrill makers cheat death constantly, performing impossible feats in highly-choreographed manoeuvres often practiced for weeks, months and possibly years.

Some of the world’s best heart-stopping action comes via the 37th annual Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival’s travelling movie. In cooperation with the National Geographic Society, the Banff Centre is touring Radical Reels 2012, a spectacular display of stunts in natural landscapes. Now on a 63-stop tour, it lands at the Arden Theatre on Sunday, Oct. 14.

Clocking less than three hours with an intermission, Radical Reels presents 11 mini-films custom-edited for maximum impact. Baseliners, mountain bikers, kayakers, mountain climbers, skiers and snowboarders test their limits through death defying tricks in some of nature’s most beautiful surroundings.

“They’re crazy. They’re intense, but that’s the goal,” says Meaghan Stewart, Banff world tour program co-ordinator. “For the audience it’s nice to live vicariously seeing the things we wouldn’t do.”

“At the same time it pushes me not to take unnecessary risks, but to question our abilities and how we test them,” adds Stewart, a dedicated mountain skier.

Most of the extreme sports are familiar but others are new creations. In Concrete Dreams, extreme sport athlete Danny Strasser provides a stomach-lurching display of bobtrack downhill skateboarding, a sport that didn’t exist until he invented it.

“You see Danny in Sarajevo (Bosnia) skateboarding on a war-ravaged decommissioned bobsled track. He wears protective equipment and says his concentration is 100 per cent, which in his eyes is as safe as driving a car,” Stewart said.

Miller’s Thriller: Ski BASE highlights another new sport – parachute-assisted ski BASE jumps in the back country of Jackson Hole, Wyo.

“Most of us will never do it, but it’s fun to watch. It’s also a tribute to a great community we can relate to as outdoor enthusiasts,” Stewart said.

As witnessed in Reel Rock: Race for the Nose, mountain climbers need to be fearless. In this wild competition, climbers try to break a speed record scaling the Nose route of El Capitan, a 3000-foot vertical granite monolith in Yosemite National Park.

“The first time climbers tried it, it was done in several days. Now it’s climbed in under three hours. They have ropes and they are protected. But their whole technique is developed around speed climbing. It’s not something all climbers do. It’s an elite sport, a niche sport for the superstars of climbing.”

Instead Art of Flight, the biggest budget snowboarding film ever produced, takes viewers on a mind-blowing trip to Alaska. It stars the legendary Travis Rice, who miraculously survives extraordinary feats in Alaska’s equally legendary natural beauty.

In equally adrenalin charged environments, kayaker Rush Sturges paddles through huge waterfalls, remote areas and some of the most challenging white-water from Mexico to Iceland, risking drowning and battering.

“This section focuses on exploration and big waterfall drops. It has sweet music and enthusiastic, sincere paddlers. The love of the sport really shines through,” Stewart said.

Not only are the high velocity drama endurance challenges on the screen inspiring, but also the jewel-like natural beauty can quite literally take your breath away.

“I always leave wondering what the human capacity for exploration is,” Stewart said. “But mostly Radical Reels is fun and very communal. It’s fun yelling ‘yahoo’ with friends and 300 other people and that’s what makes it so great.”


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