7,000 or so basketball teams take to the streets of Spokane this weekend to play in the 24th annual Hoopfest. Hoopfest’s organizers have a new trick up their sleeves this year, which will bring athletes from around the world to compete in a different sport. Paige Browning has the story.
To say the least, Hoopfest staff are busy ironing final event details. For planners and competitors, the weekend of basketball games crammed into 42 city blocks is not for slackers. But this year, Hoopfest is for slackliners.
Pletcher: “They compete all year round and earn points with the World Slackline Federation, and the top ranking athletes in the globe are invited to the World Cup Series.”
That’s Jaime Pletcher, the Marketing and Events Manager for Gibbons Slacklines USA. Her company is kicking off the World Cup Series for Slacklining at Hoopfest. The extreme sport is like a mix between tight rope walking and gymnastics. Athletes do tricks across a two-inch wide webbing that’s at least four feet off the ground.
Davis: “We’ve always wanted to bring things to the event that are spectator oriented but not necessarily have anything to do with basketball, because we’re more than basketball. We have a festival going on as well.”
Gibbons popularized the sport, and had a demo at Hoopfest last year. Hoopfest marketing manager Kirstin Davis says people loved it. She says the slackline team makes competitions a lot of fun.
Davis: “A lot of the riggers are also the athletes, who are also the judges, who are kind of this tight knit family. And what I love to is that they’re all ages.”
The age range for the 32 World Cup qualifiers is 15-to-34 years old, and that includes men and women, from a dozen different countries. This is the first year Gibbons is hosting the World Cup in the U.S. It’s a four part competition, starting in Spokane, then heading to Germany, Austria, and a to-be-announced finals location.
In Spokane, Gibbons will set up a slackline arena in the Red Wagon meadows off of Spokane Falls Boulevard, featuring a 60 foot long competition line and a shorter line for anyone to try.
Pletcher says you’ll see front flips, back flips, and rotations, and the judges look for the level of difficulty.
Pletcher: “The technique, cleanliness of the tricks, creativity, and then being able to string those tricks together.”
Competitions go Thursday through Saturday, starting with a best trick run at 6:00 p.m. Thursday. As if there wasn’t enough to do between basketball games and slacklining, Hoopfest hosts it’s annual Toyota shootoff, and is bringing in three NBA mascots.
For information, go to Hoopfest.org.
Copyright 2013 Spokane Public Radio