Two Extreme Sports Made Less Scary For Those With (Gulp!) Hesitations

Have you ever wanted to try an extreme sport but were afraid to go it on your own? Well, here's some good news: there are several sports you can do in tandem with another more experienced practitioner. Here are two of them.

Tandem Downhill Skiing

You might be saying, "Now wait a minute--downhill skiing isn't really an extreme sport." But it is if you want to cover black diamond territory as an absolute beginner. The answer is a tandem ski setup.

There are actually two types of tandem skiing. One is for two experienced skiers who share one set of skis. Forget about that one if you're a novice.

The kind of tandem skiing you want is where an experienced skier stands in the front steering and handling all the difficult maneuvers, while you sit in the back enjoying the ride. The equipment is so comfortable and safe that you can even cover trails that have been run by medalists at the Olympics.

This type of tandem skiing is ideal for the physically disabled or the autistic, as well as the just plain chicken. Here are some tips to remember when signing up for tandem skiing or sending a family member:

  • It's easy to go from hot to cold very quickly. Wear layers to accommodate changes in temperature, especially at the top of the hill.
  • Expect to be required to wear a helmet.
  • If sending someone with a physical or mental disability, explain the process to the skier, and be sure to let the instructor/leader know about their partner's limitations.

You can appreciate tandem skiing as your only way of sampling the sport, or you can try it to see if you would like to work up to being able to ski on your own.

Tandem Skydiving

Skydiving is a sport that is definitely extreme all the way around, but you can make it safer and less terrifying when you do a tandem jump. In tandem skydiving, you are harnessed to a qualified, experienced instructor who is responsible for deciding when to jump, when to open the parachute, and where to land. They're also able to handle any emergencies, like deploying a second chute if the first one should fail.

The advantages of a tandem dive are as follows:

  • You can test the sport out with little risk to see if you like it.
  • No extensive training is required.
  • You don't have to worry about anything--just savor the view.

Know that on a tandem dive, you won't be able to use your own camera, as the Basic Safety Requirements of the US Parachute Association see it as a safety hazard.

Who knows? You may like skydiving so much that once you complete your training, you'll be the one taking newbies down on their jumps!