While there’s no data defining which is the world’s most dangerous sport, there are a few that are high on the list of sports that definitely wouldn’t be called safe. Any time a sport tests physical limits and involves exposure to the elements, especially harsh elements, it can be considered extreme. These activities can cause a host of injuries, from broken bones to brain damage, and even death. Yet, these extreme sports are rising in popularity, despite the dangers. Here are five popular extreme sports that are gaining traction around the world.
Volcanoes are usually regarded with awe, and often from a distance. Volcano surfing, also known as ash boarding, goes against the norm. Riders hike up a volcano and “surf” down on a small piece of plywood or metal. What could go wrong? Riders could fall and suffer cuts from the volcanic ash, breath in poisonous gas, or get hit with molten lava. Still interested? Cerro Negro in Nicaragua is the most popular volcano boarding slope, followed by Mt. Yasur in Tanna, Vanuatu. Both are active volcanoes, and while Cerro Negro hasn’t had an eruption since 1999, Mt. Yasur sees eruptions almost every day, which adds to the thrill.
Ever dream of flying like Superman, no strings attached? With a wingsuit you can, though you might pay for it with your life. The suits are often called “bat suits” or “flying squirrel” suits for their resemblance to the fuzzy creatures once you’re falling from the sky, arms and legs wide. Fabric between the legs and arms creates a surface area that keeps you from plummeting too quickly, and essentially lets you fly through the air on the wind. Usually, wingsuit flyers jump from an aircraft or BASE-jump exit point, then spread their wings and fly. In a perfect execution, a parachute eventually deploys, though there have been numerous instances of malfunction.
Elevator surfing made headlines last year when a 20-year-old artist in New York City was found dead in an elevator shaft after a surf session gone wrong, and his death wasn’t the first from the sport. The activity, which is increasing in popularity, involves riding on top of elevators, and sometimes even jumping between moving elevators. Surfers run the risk of getting stuck between the elevator and the sides or top of the elevator shaft, and could also slip and fall tens of stories at any time.
To give you an idea of how dangerous cave diving is, the National Speleological Society says a dive you return from is a successful dive. That’s not very reassuring, but the sport is immensely popular among those who love the underwater world and a bit of a thrill. Divers delve into caves that are filled with water, which hold a unique set of fauna and entice divers from around the world. Yet, the dark waters mean divers are at higher risk of getting lost or attacked by an animal without warning, and air loss is also an issue. The San Marcos Area Recovery Team says that more than 500 people have died in cave diving accidents just in Florida, Mexico and the Caribbean since 1960.
It doesn’t make sense for a human to get on a raging bull and try to hold on, but that’s what bull riding is all about. This sport has been popular for years, but is seeing a resurgence among extreme sport enthusiasts. Bulls can weigh more than 200 pounds and are known to not only throw riders, but stomp on them afterward, causing broken bones and internal injuries.