A mixture of gymnastics, break dance and street culture. This is how you would describe the sport of freestyle skiing. At the Westsite handball club in Riekerhaven, young people show their athletic skills. An on-field course is built for flips, backflips, and other daring tricks.
Each athlete shows what he can do in about half a minute. Each “run” is accompanied by a pumping stroke. About two hundred spectators attended the Amsterdam Urban Sports Week event (see box), including parents and friends. The jury decides who can call himself the best in the Netherlands.
Among the women, Noah Deorgina Mann (17 years old) is the top candidate. The student – who will start on 5 havo next school year – won a gold medal at the World Games in the US last month for “Method,” a section about creativity and the quality of tricks. She also won a silver in the “Speed” section, which is about how quickly the course is completed. In Amsterdam it’s all about “style”.
The man herself admits that she is the biggest candidate. “It would be crazy to win the gold at the World Cup and not be the best nationally.” But her first run isn’t going smoothly. She is the only one in the field of participants that oscillates. Get up quickly and keep racing. The jury is moderate, because the guy qualifies for the final. She takes revenge with a stunning and flawless performance and becomes a Dutch champion.
After high school, the guy, who lives in Delft, wants to become a professional. This amazing sport is sponsored by Red Bull. The sweet, refreshing drink also helps a person. In addition, a man can also earn money as a stunt woman in movies. The day before the competition, she participated in an American production selection.
Freerun, like mountain biking or snowboarding, is a fairly young sport. It will be an exhibition sport at the 2024 Games in Paris. The guy thinks that the best thing about free running is that she can apply her own style. “I’ve been doing a lot of dancing. I’ll repeat it. There is no limit to what you can show.”
Because of the big jumps and hard descents, injuries seem to be the order of the day, but the paramedic on duty rarely takes any action: he must cool off three times with snow.
“I’ve been following sports for about five years,” he says. But little happens. Occasionally I see some muscle or joint problems, especially in the ankle and wrist. Once there was a tibia fracture, but these guys train a lot. They know what they’re doing.”
To overcome fears
The man is now free of injuries. “I once passed on crutches, but it wasn’t for free jogging. I fell down the stairs.”
In addition to great physical control, freerun also requires mental skills, says Mann. “You have to conquer your fears, because you know you can fall.”
What is remarkable is that all the athletes have a “nice” relationship with each other. It rains with fives and fives after someone runs a good race. Or there is a word of consolation when things go wrong, as with a human’s first run. And, of course, there’s the congratulation as Mann’s tears welled up after her victory.
Urban Sports Week
The Dutch Freerunning Championships will take place on the opening day of the Amsterdam Urban Sports Week. This is an event with sports that are mainly played in an urban environment like Amsterdam. In addition to free running, it is also about skateboarding, Knockout Bana (football fight where you have to play someone through the legs) and 3×3 basketball.
The event lasts ten days and spreads across all regions. In addition to competitions, there are introductory meetings with different sports. The program can be found at uswa.nl.
The event, which is being organized for the fifth time, is financed by the Amsterdam municipality. One goal is to get young Amsterdammers to play sports, even if they don’t have a big budget at home. Since you don’t need any material for free jogging or 3×3 basketball, sharing is easily accessible.
Alderman Sofiane Mbarki (Sport, PvdA): “Urban sports are growing in popularity, especially among Amsterdam’s youth. This is important because exercise and sports are not only good for physical and mental health, but also help in connecting with others.”
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