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What Were They Thinking? For the athletes on these pages, the adventure never ends. But when we asked them to put some of the most over-the-top moments of 2002 into their own words, even they were left wondering...

Dec. 16, 2002
Dec. 16, 2002

Table of Contents
Dec. 16, 2002

What Were They Thinking? For the athletes on these pages, the adventure never ends. But when we asked them to put some of the most over-the-top moments of 2002 into their own words, even they were left wondering...

7/12/02
Marc Audap
Kjerag, Norway

This is an article from the Dec. 16, 2002 issue

"I'm falling backward with my camera mounted on my helmet," says
the 29-year-old French base jumper. "When you take the last step
off the cliff, it's really calm. You feel like you're in space
because you don't fall right away. You just sort of hang for a
few seconds before starting to accelerate. This cliff is more
than 3,300 feet high, so we had 20 seconds of free fall before we
had to open our chutes. That's pretty long, which is good because
the longer the fall, the safer the jump."

8/2/02
Drake McElroy
Cleveland

"This move was from the Gravity Games. It's the corpse, a move I
pioneered a few years ago," says the 21-year-old motocross whiz.
"I was doing some bar hops, and a friend said, 'Dude, wouldn't it
be cool to do a bar hop and then lie flat on your back?' I was
like, 'Yeah, that would be cool.' It's pretty automatic now. But
then I look at a picture like this, and I say, 'Damn, that's
crazy!' I'm in the zone, completely calm here, but when I watch
my friends trying something this gnarly, I can't help but get a
little nervous."

11/25/02
Laird Hamilton
Jaws, Hawaii

"I've been riding Jaws for 10 years, and this was probably the
best day we've ever had," says the world's most famous big-wave
surfer of the world's most famous big wave. "I might've ridden
100 waves that day. Dropping into a swell like this is like
jumping out of a plane. At the high end you're going up to 50
mph, then you freefall and apply all that speed to getting an
edge. Being on the inside looking out is the sensation that draws
us to do this, to experience being in the middle of all this
energy, all this raw power. It's a lot scarier looking at it now,
from the outside, and realizing just where I was and what I was
doing."

2/2/02
Missy Eide
Lahaina, Hawaii

"It's so easy!" says the 19-year-old big-wave surfer. "I've been
surfing almost since before I could walk. My friends and I are
always messing around and trying different things, and I think I
started doing this about three years ago. I do it mostly on
slower days. I don't even think about it now. It's just, like, if
a wave is ending I'll do a quick headstand. It looks a lot harder
than it really is and doesn't require a lot of effort. I just do
it real quick."

3/16/02
Carlo Travarelli
Snowbird, Utah

"I do this for a living," says the 27-year-old freestyle skier,
"but I'll admit, I was scared on this one. First, I had to labor
up the mountain in snow up to my chest, and then I had to wait 20
minutes because the photographer needed the clouds to break so
that he could get the right light. Then, like that, the
photographer's yelling 'Go!' and everything's a blur. It's weird
because you can't see the landing area [55 to 60 feet below]
until you hit the jump, and you're praying that you don't go left
and land up in the trees. Fortunately, I didn't go left. Ate one
of my ski poles, but stuck the landing."

10/18/02
Hans Rey
Rubicon Trail, Calif.

"The Rubicon Trail became famous as a passage for gold miners
during the California Gold Rush," says the 36-year-old extreme
mountain biker. "Today it's well-known as a must-do trail for 4¥4
jeep junkies. Big boulders and huge granite slabs litter the
trail, making it hard enough to walk, let alone drive--or ride a
bike--over. On this day my friend Brian Lopes, who's a Biker X
world champ, and I decided to ride the most notorious parts of
the trail. Here I'm just playing around, catching a little air.
But don't be fooled. The ride might have been only 25 miles, but
it took us all day. I still can't believe that jeeps can pass
through here."

COLOR PHOTO: PHOTOGRAPH BY COREY RICH [INSIDE COVER] THE VIEW FROM '02 A look back at some of the year's over-the-top images, described by the athletes in their own words 5/30/02 Tim O'Neill The Rostrum Roof, YosemiteCOLOR PHOTO: PHOTOGRAPH BY MARC AUDAP/D.P.P.I.COLOR PHOTO: PHOTOGRAPH BY LARRY KASPEREK/NEWSPORTCOLOR PHOTO: PHOTOGRAPH BY ROBERT BROWNCOLOR PHOTO: PHOTOGRAPH BY ERIK AEDERCOLOR PHOTO: PHOTOGRAPH BY SCOTT MARKEWITZCOLOR PHOTO: PHOTOGRAPH BY SCOTT MARKEWITZ