You name it and they'll jump it

By Barnaby Sharp

Heart-stopping antics have the crowd gasping

Luke Smith defies gravity with his mid-air manoeuvres.
Luke Smith defies gravity with his mid-air manoeuvres.

Standing atop a 15m ramp waiting to throw yourself down must be a nerve-racking experience.

But you'd never know it with these guys.

The Nitro Circus rolled into Auckland last Saturday night at North Harbour Stadium and amazed everyone with their daredevil antics and heart-stopping stunts.

I mean, who wakes up in the morning and decides to do a no-handed backflip ... on a freestyle motocross bike?

For these athletes, this is their bread and butter. And the near capacity crowd were blown away by what they saw.

Two of the Nitro boys, Kiwis Luke Smith and Nick Franklin, received a rousing reception, especially Smith, who had his jaw broken in an incident in downtown Auckland a couple of days earlier.

But the biggest cheer undoubtedly went to Jason "Wheels" Fotheringham, a wheelchair athlete who has refused to let his disability get in the way of his dream.

Wheels rolled down the ramp and flew through the air. He didn't quite make the landing, but it didn't matter. In that instant he had a new legion of fans and admirers.

If you could think of a thing to ride, these guys have been there, done that.

Motorbikes, BMXs, skateboards ... so passe.

Chillybins, children's scooters, trikes, boogie boards and of course a wheelchair. They even tried to launch themselves into a Zorb after trying it out down in Rotorua. From Rotovegas to Las Vegas, nothing is beyond this lot.

One of the rising stars of the freestyle motocross world, Frenchman Thomas Page, was able to contort both himself and his bike into the most amazing positions and angles.

This was real heart-in-the mouth stuff ... a fall from 15m is not going to end well. And they didn't shy away from showing the crowd just what happens when that occurs, with some sickening replays of broken bones. All part of the fun for these guys.

The ringleader of the Nitro Circus show, Travis Pastrana, may not have been there but his cohort of extreme athletes ensured that this was a night to remember.

- NZ Herald

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