It’s summertime in Chile, and Santiago’s parks are filling out with people picnicking, playing guitar, reading books, and taking part in the latest outdoor craze: slacklining.
The sport found its way to Santiago five years ago and today there are about 7,000 people that practice slacklining in Chile. “Slackers” enjoy the activity as it is simple to set up and offers a good balance of outdoor exercise and technical skill.
Slacklining was born in the 1980’s by rock climbing enthusiasts Adam Grosowsky and Jeff Ellington of the United States. They strung up a flat piece of nylon webbing between two anchor points and found that due to the flat nature of the line and flexibility of the material they could perform tricks that couldn’t be accomplished on a standard tightrope.
The slack, in the slackline, allows “riders” to bounce on the line providing the ability to perform aerial stunts such as flips.
Practitioners must be weary of what trees they use to set up the slacklines; it is recommended to find a trunk that can support at least 290 pounds (130 kilograms) of weight. Trees that are at least twelve inches (30 centimeters) in diameter are ideal in most cases.
As well as being popular with outdoor enthusiasts, the sport is great for young executives looking to get in a quick workout on their lunch break because the equipment required, a slackline and a ratchet, can easily fit into a backpack.
You can find people slacklining in Parque Bustamante, Bicentenario, Padre Hurtado, Inés de Suárez, and anywhere that has sufficient space.
Within the slacklining world, subcategories include: urbanlining, tricklining, highlining, waterlining, and slackline yoga. Highlining is performed at high elevations and is considered to be the pinnacle of the sport.
Waterlining is when the slackline is positioned over water and is an ideal way to work on new tricks such as flips. Slackliners can be found setting up their lines over pools, rivers, lakes, and even the ocean between old dock posts.
There is an annual slacklining World Cup several Chileans have competed in.
Slacklines can run anywhere between US$20 (CLP$9.500) to US$100 (CLP$47.500) depending on width of the line, skill level, and brand.
For more information on slacklining in Chile check out Slacker.cl.
Written by Michael Dash