Phenomenal achievements and a mark left forever on their sport. That's what's in store for the extreme sport athletes we're introducing you to today.
While extreme sports continue their rise, with the appearance of certain disciplines at the Tokyo Olympic Games This summer, we're zooming in on some of the top athletes. They've left their mark for a long time, so the next time we tell you about Tony Hawk's 900 or Kelly Slater's 11 titles, you'll know who we're talking about.
Kelly Slater, a surfing figure for decades
When you think of surfing and extreme sports, the image of the "King" immediately comes to mind. And with good reason. The 49-year-old American holds 11 world championship titles (including the record for the youngest and oldest male champion) and no less than 55 World Tour rounds won. In 2019 at the age of 47, Slater also awarded himself his third "Vans Triple Crown", a major competition in the surfing world. If he is no longer really in the race for a new world crown against the youth, the Floridian is making resistance. Let's remember that he entered the WCT in 1989 (yes, you read that right).
Notoriously, Slater owns a wave pool in Lemoore, California, which now serves as a round of the world championship, the Surf Ranch Pro.
Tony Hawk, father of the 900
10 gold medals at the X Games, that's the number to remember about Tony Hawk. At 53 years old, he is the father of about fifty skateboarding tricks, mainly on ramps. At the 1999 X Games, Tony Hawk was the first in the history of skateboarding to perform a 900 (two and a half turns in the air). For the past 20 years, his name has been associated with a series of video games that have sold more than 30 million copies. A man with a heart, the Californian created the "Skatepark Project": 10 million euros were used to create 600 skateparks around the world, for populations poorly equipped to practice this sport.
Kilian Jornet, "the ultra-artist
At 33, Kilian Jornet has already made a lot of noise. Ski-mountaineering, mountaineering, ultra-trail, mountain running: the Spaniard is a jack of all trades and above all an outstanding athlete. He holds several world records, such as the ascent of Mont Blanc in mountaineering, the Denali or the Matterhorn. Eight times world champion in ski-mountaineering, four times winner of the Skyrunner World Series, no competition seems to resist him. Not even the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (three victories) or the Grand Raid de La Réunion which he has already won. An exceptional record of achievement that has earned him the nicknames of "extraterrestrial" or even "ultraterrestrial". And the title of Adventurer of the Year which was awarded to him by National Geographic magazine in 2014 and 2018.
Rachel Atherton, monster on a DH bike
Now it's time for the ladies with downhill racer Rachel Atherton. She has five world champion titles and six world cups to her credit (with 39 runs won). In 2016, she broke Anne-Caroline Chausson's record of 10 consecutive World Cup runs won by a woman. That season, she won all the stages. The Englishwoman is now associated with her brothers Dan and Gee, also professional mountain bikers, within Atherton Bikes. They have started to manufacture their own brand, under their own name of course. A family business!
Candide Thovex, the Frenchy king of freeride
It is with great pleasure that we include a Frenchman in our selection. Candide Thovex, a native of Annecy, is a major figure in extreme sports. A freeride and freestyle ski specialist, he has won six X Games gold medals and one silver. He became partly known thanks to a 36-metre jump over a 12-metre ravine in Alta, USA. Since then, the rider's videos have attracted millions of internet users, like One of those days below.