Professional Freeskier Tom Wallisch Just Broke The World Record For Longest Rail Slide In History...
...and we're nowhere near as impressed as we should be.
We don't want to start mouthing off like the pocket-sized military man Napoleon Bonaparte, after he's had one too many glasses of red, but bigger is not always better. Sometimes bigger is silly. Sometimes bigger is just bigger for the sake of being bigger. Yes. It might be bigger but, aesthetically speaking, what's the point?
In the world of action sports and adventure, there's a tendency for athletes to drift towards tricks and flips that are bigger than what's come before. For evidence of this, just take another look at Billy Morgan's ludicrous quad-cork from last year. Sometimes, like in the case of Morgan's huge snowboarding effort, we have to remove our cynicism-hats and say "fair play, mate... that's really impressive."
This record-breaking rail slide from Tom Wallisch, however, has left us feeling colder than the exposed nipple of a White Walker. Objectively speaking, of course, it's the perfect demonstration of skill and balance; the kind of thing that if we attempted ourselves would conclude with us weeping our eyes out in the back of an ambulance. That being said, part of us just can't shake the feeling that it's all a bit too silly; a bit too circus.
According to various reports, this 424 feet (129 metres) rail slide is the longest one ever. And that's awesome, it really is. But just because you're sticking a big 'World Record' label on it, doesn't make something cool.
Anyone who's watched their fair share of freestyle skiing videos will know that some of the most fun stuff out there, available to view, is the stuff where it looks like the skier isn't even trying (style + easy = steezy). The stuff that's just "super chilled."
Example: Park Rat rocks up, rubs sleep out of his eyes, and casually as you like does something that while obviously difficult doesn't strike you as something they've put a lot of work into. World Records, by their inherent nature, feel completely different.
The 'World Record' label brings to mind the theme tune from that iconic children's TV show about breaking records (Record Breakers): "dedication's what you need, if you want to be a record breaker...OooOh Yeah" etc etc. And once that famous, yet highly cheesy, song is stuck in your head it's almost impossible to shake loose. This, in turn, has a detrimental effect on the thing you're watching.
We're not knocking Tom. He's a great skier. You'd be a fool to think anything less of someone who can rail slide an eye-popping 424 feet. Big congratulations to him. Jolly good show, and all that. Top banana! Cat's pyjamas! We take our hats off to you.
It's just, and this is only an opinion, we think there's an argument to be made that this type of skiing shouldn't be the be-all and end-all of skiing. If we drift into a place where athletes are doing nothing but pushing themselves to go bigger, better, longer, further, flipp-ier, or whatever...we'll end up losing the little things that make our sports so enjoyable.
Let's let the long jumpers, triple jumpers, and javelin throwers of this world worry about distance. Let the high jumpers, and the pole vaulters worry about height. Meanwhile, let's allow the BMX riders, MTB riders, skiers, snowboarders and skateboarders to just go out and enjoy themselves.
Obviously if sliding excessive distances on a rail is what Tom Wallisch wants to do, who are we stop him? In fact if sliding a long way on rails is what you, reading this now, want to do then, by all means, go ahead and do precisely that. But if you'd rather just kick about and have fun, don't dedicate yourself to something so tedious. You might break a record but, in this writer's opinion at least, it's a pretty boring record to break.