Rollerblading's 'Superman', Chris Haffey, is the master of death-defying stunts
Air-time fun: Chris Haffey says being on the Nitro Circus Live team is a dream come true. Picture: SPORT THE LIBRARY/JEFF CROW.
WHEN you're standing on the top of the drop-in on the Nitro Gigant-A-Ramp, about to attempt your trademark double backflip 180 in front of an arena packed with thousands of screaming fans, rollerblader Chris Haffey says the best thing to do is to not really think much at all."You know honestly, it all happens so fast, you don't have time to think," he says.
"You know what you're gonna do -- you just drop in, you can't hesitate."
Easy words when you're the man the global rollerblading community calls "Superman".
As the only inline skater on Travis Pastrana's global arena extreme sports spectacular, Haffey's presence on the tour is proof that one of the most popular extreme sports in the '90s is making a bit of a comeback.
Once a familiar sight on both the streets and television, rollerbladers never really went anywhere -- they just disappeared from the public eye, with the industry lacking the corporate sponsorship of other big-ticket extreme sports such as skateboarding, BMX and snowboarding.
Chris says he definitely notices a buzz building around the sport again in his travels across the globe.
"Yeah, I don't think we're seeing it yet in number and sales, but in terms of when I'm going places, I'm seeing a lot of people who used to skate getting back into it, and lots of new skaters, too.
"It's gaining a lot of momentum again and there is a lot of positive stuff going on, but we're kinda yet to see that flow on to the companies in sales of skates or stuff like that."
Skating with Nitro Circus Live is quite different from what Haffey would do on the streets or at a normal skate park, with a selection of giant precision-designed launch ramps tailored for landing huge, death-defying tricks.
"It's definitely its own beast," he says.
"It's honestly what I have the most fun doing right now, skating stuff like that. Whether it's mega ramps or big skate parks in general, I just like things where I can get a lot of air time.
"If I had to pick anything to do a show with, it's definitely the Nitro Gigant-A-Ramp. It's one of those things you've got a healthy fear of, every time you drop in you're in a serious situation. That seriousness lends you to focusing more on what you're doing. With anything else in skating, you have your falls, but it's generally the funnest thing ever."
Aside from the skating itself, Chris says being on the Nitro Circus Live team is nothing short of a dream come true, taking him everywhere from in front of 20,000 at London's O2 Arena to right here in the tropical paradise of Cairns on a weekly basis.
"It's the best job I could ask for," he says. "The last couple of years it's been one to three months each year, but it seems like we're going to be on tour for quite some time. We have lots of plans for stuff, we're leaving for Europe in less than 10 days. It seems like a huge amount of time on the road, but that's fine with me. I'm having so much fun on the tour. Come down and enjoy it."