SNOWMASS VILLAGE - When the days in the snow park - riding rails and flippin' turns - come to an end and the snowmelt gives way to fields of green and soaring temperatures, hipsters in the valley have to find alternative ways for staying cool. Some bust it up at the skate park, others hit the gondola for some downhill madness, and others, well, balance on a string.
If you have ever seen the documentary "Man on Wire," you probably have an idea about what the art of slacklining is all about: a thin line, no more than an inch-and-a-half-thick, hanging between two objects multiple feet off the ground - and a very brave soul balancing in the middle of it. What? OK, so it's not for everyone. But ever since Justin Daleke's childhood friend Ben Seebeck brought a slackline back to their hometown in Washington state last offseason (and tied it 30 feet off the ground), the outcome was simple: They couldn't get enough.
With this simple string of webbing, Justin and Ben's summers in Snowmass are complete as they spend their days tying up the slackline in the grass outside their apartments and walking (pun intended) on a thin line.
Snowmass Sun: You consider yourself a snowboarding junkie in the winter. How does this activity replace your desire to be on the board?
Justin Daleke: It was one of those things where you try it once and run with it. We started slacking close to the ground at first to get our footing. Once we had that down we started to increase the height, and that was when it really became addicting.
SS: How often do you slackline? Have you turned any other friends on to the activity?
JD: I would say we set it up about two to three times a week. Most of our friends have tried it, and it usually draws quite a crowd each time we do it.
SS: What would you say is the main attraction to the sport?
JD: Like any sport, it's not something you can become good at right away - it requires a lot of practice. I think the main excitement over it was whether or not I could actually do it and become good at it. For me, it just sort of clicked.
SS: What kind of similarities do you find between slacklining and snowboarding? Have either sport's skills carried over to the other?
JD: I find slacklining to be the main tool for improving my skills on a snowboard because it works all eye, hand and body coordination. When you are balancing you have to rid your mind of all other things, it's like meditating. My overall focus has improved tremendously.
SS: Since you started, have you gotten good enough to do any tricks?
JD: (Laugh) I mainly just want to get across, but I'm workin' on it.