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Walking the wire

On Saturday, Dec. 11, Outdoor Activities hosted a slacklining event in the BYU-Idaho Center’s main gym. Several dozen students gave the rope-walking sport a go during the two hours the event was open, some experienced and some trying it for their first time.

“This is an opportunity for people to take a break from school, try something new and exercise,” said Lucas Johnson, a sophomore studying recreation management. “It’s really tricky to stay looking up, and not at your feet. That helps a whole lot with balance.”

Slacklining is similar to tightrope walking but has two key differences. First, rather than using a taut wire, slacklining uses a wide strap, making it much easier to balance on.

The other important difference is in the title; the strap is hung with some slack. While tightrope walking uses a completely taut line, the looseness of a slackline allows for the bouncing and mobility required for certain tricks, such as flips and spins.

Isabel Shaw
Isabel Shaw has been slacklining occasionally over the past year, and here shows off her improved balance on the slackline. Photo credit: Isaac Dixon

“I started doing this because I wanted to improve my balance, but now it’s kind of just for fun,” said Isabel Shaw, a junior studying recreation management. “The only advice I’d give is to try to focus on having a line between your big toe and the rest of your foot. If you focus on that, it kind of makes it easier to balance.”

When the weather is warmer, slacklines can be seen strung between trees in parks or posts around town, but during these colder months, it becomes necessary to do it inside. This event provided five lines open to any student’s use.

Deeply focused, Will Hutchinson takes another step forwards as he balances on the slackline.
Deeply focused, Will Hutchinson takes another step forwards as he balances on the slackline. Photo credit: Isaac Dixon

“After I did it once, it was pretty fun, so I decided to come back,” said Will Hutchinson, a freshman majoring in recreation therapy. “Once you try it for a little bit, I don’t think it’s too difficult. It can seem a little hard at first, but it’s always fun to try something new.”

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