Slacklining has become a popular trend at BYU by offering students a chance to conquer a unique, extreme sport.
Slacklining, which involves balancing and doing tricks on a looser version of a tightrope, has gained traction with fans due to the sport’s challenging nature and versatility.
Ryan Hansen, a computer science major, has been slacklining for about six years and said he was drawn to the sport because it was unique and challenging.
“I like slacklining because it’s a way to push myself,” Hansen said. “Excelling at it is actually a lot more difficult than it looks, so it takes a lot of practice and determination to get good.”
Hansen said the growing sport also gives participants the opportunity to meet people and make new friends.
“It can be a very social activity,” he said. “Most of the time when I’m slacklining with a group of people, I’m introducing them to the sport and teaching them how to do it. It doesn’t even take much planning — all you need is a slackline and a couple of trees. So, it’s a good excuse to get outside without having to go run a mile.”
Spencer Pond, a biology major, was introduced to the sport while on his mission. Pond said he enjoys pushing himself to master new tricks on the slackline.
“People notice when you’re up on a slackline doing all these crazy tricks,” Pond said. “It kind of makes you feel like a ninja.”
Pond also said that many male students may use slacklining as a sort of mating ritual at BYU.
“I think a lot of guys here do it to get noticed by girls,” he said. “It’s something that can make you look really cool, if you’re good at it.”
Melody Wood, a family and consumer sciences education major, said the sport’s versatility can attract all kinds of people.
“It’s a different sport, and there are so many directions to take it — highlining, waterlining, tricklining,” Wood said. “The competitive edge and self-mastery elements to slacklining make you constantly want to get better at it and try new things.”
Wood noted that although the sport is mostly dominated by men, an increasing number of women are joining in the fun.
“At most of the legitimate competitions, there are generally one or two girls on the roster for every 10-15 guys,” she said. “But it’s definitely a growing sport and gaining a bigger following among girls.”
Wood said she believes slacklining is popular at BYU because of the release it offers students.
“I think specifically at BYU, where we don’t necessarily have vices like drinking or partying, the sport can offer a good alternative stress release,” she said. “Basically, slacklining is my drug.”