New sport lets residents walk the line

Okotoks: Slack lining a mix of trampoline tricks and tightrope walking

By: Roxanne Blackwell

  |  Posted: Thursday, Jun 26, 2014 06:00 am

Cole Clark has been slack lining for over a year in Okotoks and hopes that the sport will continue to catch on in town.
Cole Clark has been slack lining for over a year in Okotoks and hopes that the sport will continue to catch on in town.
JORDAN VERLAGE/OWW

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A new sport is catching on in Okotoks, and although it’s sometimes mistaken for tightrope walking, it’s unlikely that you’d ever see a tightrope walker attempt to land a back flip.

Slack lining involving a one or two-inch-wide specialized line to be secured between two trees, and the activity involves an immense amount of balance as slack liners do everything from stationary yoga poses to tricks and back flips all while poised on their line.

Okotoks resident Cole Clark began slack lining over a year ago after he saw an online video of professionals doing it. He started with a truck tie down strap, but has since moved on to official slack lines that can be soft, bouncy or stretchy depending on what you’re looking to do.

“It’s a fantastic form of active meditation. When you're on the line, there is nothing else. You can’t be thinking of anything else because you'll fall, so you are completely concentrated on what you're doing at that moment,” he said. “And it’s just such an interesting thing, you don’t see people jumping up and down on two inch wide lines every day.”

The Town of Okotoks introduced new slack lining guidelines on June 1 to help encourage the sport while also keeping public safety and tree protection in mind.

Okotoks urban forester Gordon White said since there’s a bylaw in place that prevents anyone from affixing anything to the town’s trees, the they initially told slack liners they had to take their lines down.

“They came to us and said ‘we’d like to do it, can you designate a spot for us?’ So we thought we might as well work with the community and see what we can do,” White said.

They were able to find six areas in town, including Sheep River Park, Hodson Park, and Wilson Park, where they determined the trees were big enough in circumference, as long as the slack liners use tree protection such as cardboard or blankets and don’t put screws or nails in the trees.

Clark said he agrees with majority of the guidelines that have been put in place, and is glad the Town has recognized the sport and is willing to accommodate them. He’s hoping slack lining continues to grow and catch on in Okotoks.

“There's been very wide interest whenever anybody comes by they are always wanting to try it or see how it’s done or learn something about it,” Clark said. “I would love for it to catch on, it's fantastic for anyone of any age regardless of where you're starting. We've had my 70-year-old grandmother on that thing.”

For anyone interested in slack lining, Clark said the best way to learn is to go online, watch videos, and then just give it a shot. Anyone slack lining in public is required to have a copy of the Town’s guidelines with them which can be found online at www.okotoks.ca or by contacting Open Spaces at 403-938-8958.


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