The teens — Austin Oliver, Haden Hamilton and Ezra Taylor — have been friends since they were 6 years old and have formed a slacklining team called The Cleveland Slackers.
The Cleveland Slackers have become so adept at the twisting, bouncing, swinging and walking on the slackline, they’ve caught the attention of a major company and were invited to a national tournament in Richmond, Va., this month.
Their practices on video have been picked up by the Gibbon Slackline Co., which represents the boys, and is featuring them on www.gibbonslacklines.com. They have been placed on a development team.
Slacklining is the act of balancing along a narrow, flexible piece of webbing which is low to the ground and usually anchored between two trees. Originating in the climbing world, slacklining has evolved into a cross trainer, backyard activity and sport all its own.
Slacklining can be traced back to climbing camps in Yosemite National Park during the mid 1970s. Climbers would stay there for weeks blazing new routes and in their time on the ground they starting rigging climbing rope to walk across.
They found that the activity improved their core strength, balance and movement for climbing — and was fun.
Gibbon has fueled the next generation of slacklining by making it easy and accessible to everyone. The 2-inch webbing and ratchet tensioning design make the Gibbon line friendlier to walk on and easier to set up. No additional tools or rigging are needed; just the kit and a couple of trees and you’re ready to go.
The company has also introduced slacklines (jib and surf) that are made of trampoline material. This new more dynamic type of line has led to a branch of the sport known as tricklining. Now, competitions are held all over the world ranking the best trickliners.
Gibbon has not forgotten its roots and has designed slackline-specific 1-inch webbing that can be rigged traditionally or with the ease of Gibbon hardware.
In the May competition, the Cleveland Slackers will have the opportunity to become members of Gibbon’s professional team.
The competition will include world champion slacklines such as Andy Lewi, who did the slackline at the halftime show with Madonna in 2012.
The teens, who practice their slacklining skills at Tinsley Park in Cleveland, can be found there most weekdays and weekends. “They usually draw a crowd,” said Carol Oliver, Austin’s mother.
View their videos at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=V4L5WzqBaHI; www.youtube.com/watch?v=LxINNPe50_U; and www.youtube.com/watch?v=WHITUa-neYO.