Chance McGuire, 25, stands on the edge of a 650-foot concrete dam in Northern California. There is a light breeze. A lone hawk circles above the deep valley. The sound from the creek far below is faint. “Five...four...three...two...one,” counts McGuire. “See ya!” He leaps out into space. In one second he falls 16 ft, in two seconds 63 ft, and after three seconds and 137 ft he is dropping at 65 mph. The air comes rushing at his face and tearing at his clothes, and the massive gray dam is a blur. He prays that his parachute will open facing away from the dam, that the chute won't collapse, and that no ill wind will slam him back into the cold concrete. The chute snaps open, sounding like a gunshot in the valley. Now McGuire is soaring, making S turns in the air while descending toward the winding creek. When he lands safely, he lets out a whoop of joy.
Skateboarders, skiers, bicyclists, and snowboarders have all been testing the limits of their sports. Dissatisfied with ordinary tricks, bike riders now do back-flips and handstands on their handlebars. Skateboarders and in-line skaters soar off half-pipes, twisting and spinning high into the air like gymnasts. Skiers come down mountainsides so steep that it would probably be more accurate to say that they are falling rather than skiing. Extreme sports like these are gaining popularity in Europe and Asia, but they are most popular in America.
滑板、滑雪、自行车以及滑雪板运动员，都在测试着他们运动的极限。光是玩一些普通的花招已经不能满足他们，自行车手现在要做倒翻筋斗，还得撑在把手上倒立。滑板与直排轮运动员自 U 形槽高高飞出，像体操选手那样在空中扭身旋转。滑雪的人从山侧滑下，陡峭的程度与其说是滑雪，倒不如说是在坠落还比较正确。这类极限运动在欧洲和亚洲都日益流行，但它们在美国最为风行。