CNBC ORIGINAL DOCUMENTARY EXPLORES HOW THE EXTREME HAS BECOME MAINSTREAM AS AMERICANS PUSH THEMSELVES TO NEW LIMITS
ONE-HOUR ORIGINAL DOCUMENTARY REPORTED BY CNBC’S CARL QUINTANILLA
ENGLEWOOD CLIFFS, N.J., June 8, 2015 – From flying off a mountain in a “wingsuit” to nailing a triple back motorcycle flip to kiteboarding 40 feet in the air, CNBC, First in Business Worldwide, examines the extraordinary growth of extreme sports in a one-hour documentary, “The New High: Extreme Sports,” reported by correspondent Carl Quintanilla and premiering on Thursday, June 18th at 10PM ET/PT. In just the past few years, entirely new sports have been invented as more and more money, time and passion have been pumped into a rapidly developing industry.
Quintanilla travels to Salt Lake City to meet three members of the “GoPro Bomb Squad” – Neil Amonson, Marshall Miller and Jesse Hall – and watches as they jump from Notch Peak, 9,000 feet above sea level, wearing wingsuits and soaring at speeds of up to 120 miles an hour. The group is paid by camera maker GoPro to live out their passion of skydiving, BASE jumping and wingsuit flying. After Amonson used one of the company’s cameras on a BASE jump and posted the video to YouTube, GoPro took notice, eventually signing him and his friends to its roster of 130-plus athletes. Sponsorships of elite athletes have helped raise GoPro’s visibility and have sent revenues soaring over the last five years.
CNBC boards a ship headed to the Bahamas for a three-day cruise where 1,400 fitness fanatics participate in a Spartan obstacle race. “Spartan Race” is just one of the competitors in the field of obstacle course racing, a growing cultural phenomenon which also includes “Tough Mudder” and “Warrior Dash.” Together, it’s a business expected to take in $350 million in entry fees alone in the U.S. in 2015. Carl Quintanilla participates in the three-mile, sixteen obstacle race, complete with a fire jump, barbed wire crawl and spear throw. He speaks with Joe De Sena, a former Wall Street trader who created Spartan Race in 2010. De Sena’s tough love philosophy: “You have to get people right to the line where they wanna quit. And if you get to that line and then bring ’em back, that’s an experience they’ll never forget.”
CNBC also meets action sports legend Travis Pastrana during a stop on his 40-city North American Nitro Circus tour, which is expected to bring in some $35 million in ticket sales. Pastrana has earned 17 medals in the X-Games and is the first person ever to complete a double back-flip on a motorcycle in competition. His Nitro Circus arena show consists of 40 performers in constant motion, soaring through the air on everything from motorcycles to skateboards – and even a wheelbarrow. Ranked among America’s most promising new companies, Nitro Circus has quickly grown into the biggest and most successful live action-sports show of all time. According to Pastrana, the secret to its appeal is three-part: “You go as fast as you can. You go as high as you can. You go as far as you can.”
Quintanilla heads to Maui to get a first-hand lesson in the extreme sport that has become a favorite of the tech elite – kiteboarding. He speaks with prominent venture capitalist Bill Tai and pro kiteboarder Susi Mai – who together are the force behind “MaiTai Global” – part extreme sports camp, part network of the top minds in tech where entrepreneurs, investors and pro-athletes come together to kite, party and make deals. “There’s a certain kind of person that will look at a pro rider flying through the air and think, ‘I could do that,'” explains Tai. “And I think that’s exactly the kind of person that goes into a startup.” Quintanilla follows two “MaiTai” first-timers hoping to find backers for their new product, and speaks with a former SVP at Twitter who’s come to Hawaii looking to invest in the next great tech idea.
CNBC also profiles 31-year-old Amelia Boone. By day, Boone is a bankruptcy attorney in Chicago, but on weekends, she sheds her corporate skin and competes as one of the best obstacle course racers in the world. Her drive to win is extreme: just eight weeks after undergoing knee surgery, Boone ran in a 24-hour long race, covering 75 miles and winning the women’s division. CNBC cameras cover Boone in action at “The Spartan Beast,” a 12.5 mile race in New Jersey where competitors trudge 4,800 feet up muddy ski slopes and tackle 32 obstacles. Boone wins the race 20 minutes ahead of the next female finisher. Her proven strategy: “Bring myself to that brink – and keep pushing.”
Along with these astonishing pursuits, there is also the very real element of danger and even death. CNBC examines the risk involved in some extreme sports. Since 1981, more than 250 people have died in BASE jumping accidents alone. Quintanilla talks with several athletes featured in the hour about walking the fine line between adrenaline and actual danger.
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