When Action Sports Meets The Solar Eclipse | From Danny MacAskill in Skye to Skiing the Arctic Circle
“If I live a full life, there’ll still only be three chances to try and chase a photograph like this..."
There aren’t many things cooler than a solar eclipse; the moon appearing directly in front of the sun and plunging the entire planet into darkness as a result. That is pretty spectacular.
Know what's even more spectacular though? Mountain biking in front of a solar eclipse. Or skiing in front of a solar eclipse. Or slacklining in front of a solar eclipse. Or cliff diving in front of a solar eclipse. Or - well, you get the point.
With last night beckoning the arrival of the most visible solar eclipse in the United States since 1918, there was a window of opportunity for the best in the world do get out there and do their thing. The eclipse was visible in an enormous 70-mile-wide, 2500-mile-long zone across America.
It's not easy though. Remember, if you're aiming to get a shot with the solar eclipse, you have about two and a half minutes. It's hard enough without the added issue of getting a mountain biker or a slackliner in frame. That means there aren't a whole lot of photographs and videos that come out of the solar eclipse in adventure sports - but what does come out is damn good.
So, without further ado, here are some of the biggest, baddest, most-beautiful action sports moments filmed or shot in front of a solar eclipse in the past few years, and of course, the stories behind them.
1) Slacklining the Solar Eclipse | Alex Mason at Jackson Hole, Wyoming, USA (2017)
Slackliner Alex Mason rigged a line through the famous Corbet's Couloir at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort in Wyoming with the help of "Sketchy" Andy Lewis - a slacking legend known for performing with Madonna in the 2012 Super Bowl halftime show.
"Crossing the couloir was the most amazing and surreal experiences of my life," said Mason. “Highlining is already so out of my comfort zone, so it was really intimidating to take this on during total darkness... But I'm so glad I did. Such an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime experience."
The line that Alex walked was 23 metres long and 150ft from the ground with 10,000ft exposure, at an elevation of 10,450ft. We’re glad we left this one to him.
His slacklining efforts were shot by National Geographic photographer and explorer Keith Ladzinski.
2) Skiing the Solar Eclipse | Svalbard, Norway (2015)
This one is our pick of the bunch.
If you found the logistics of watching a solar eclipse tough enough already, spare a thought for pro skiers Cody Townsend, Brody Leven, Chris Ruben and photographer Reuben Krabbe with Salomon TV.
They decided that rather than sit at home and try and see the thing from their window, they’d head on over to Svalbard in the Arctic Circle to grab some footage and photographs, on the off chance the weather was clear.
In the film above, Krabbe says: “If I get to live a full life there’ll still only be three chances in my lifetime to try and chase a photograph like this, and who’s to say I get those chances and that it’s not cloudy there."
(Really obvious) Spoiler: They get the photograph. Watch the film above to see exactly how. A stunning adventure.
3) Mountain Biking the Solar Eclipse | Danny MacAskill in Skye, Scotland (2015)
This actually first started as a photography project, leading to the shooting of Danny MacAskill riding his mountain bike in Skye during the total eclipse in Scotland during 2015.
The breathtaking shot was taken by Rutger Pauw on the rider’s hometown of Skye. Between ‘The Ridge’ and this amazing snap, the tourism board up there must be just about ready to build MacAskill a statue.
It wasn’t just a matter of point and click, though. The concept behind the shoot had been the brainchild of Pauw for some time.
“I saw a picture by a photographer in Austria," he told Red Bull. “He used a really long lens – a 1000m lens to shoot the moon with a guy on a bike airborne in front of it.
“It’s a bit like the scene in ET: if you can find a point between you and the moon that actually fits that focal length, then it looks amazing."
When Rutger heard that the biggest solar eclipse in 16 years was about to arrive in Skye then, he got Danny on board, and despite the risks they managed to get the shots they needed.
4) Diving the Solar Eclipse | Helena Merten, Orlando Duque and David Colturi in McMinnville, Oregon, USA (2017)
Australian cliff diver Helena Merten joined Orlando Duque, David Colturi and Andy Jones for some solar eclipse cliff-diving from a 20-metre platform in McMinnville, Oregon.
“I was so excited, I was literally shaking," said photographer Dustin Snipes. “I knew we had such a small window to nail the shots but we did it. The experience was everything I could ask for."
Their dives were captured by Snipes via high-optical quality front-surface mirrors with current Red Bull Cliff Diving men’s leader Duque one of the jumpers.
“It was one of the craziest dives I’ve done in my entire life," said Red Bull Cliff Diving veteran Duque. “We knew it was going to be dark, but not that dark! Having one shot at this dive made it that much more exciting."