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Crazy Cliff-Diving Competition Comes To Texas

cliff_divingjpgThe first time I visited Acapulco, like any tourist I wanted to see the famous cliff-divers leap from the craggy heights of La Quebrada 135 feet into the foaming Pacific below. I learned a life lesson that day: Never be stupid enough to jump off a cliff like that. You’ll break your neck! Not everyone has learned that lesson, though—in particular, the newest breed of cliff divers now fighting it out in the 2014 Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series. Next stop on the series tour: Possum Kingdom Lake, Texas, 80 miles west of Fort Worth, on June 6-7. 

In the Cliff Diving World Series, competitors make four leaps from 90 feet—three times the Olympic diving height. Their fearlessness is as impressive as their artistry as they flip, bend, twist, and otherwise contort themselves while hurtling to what looks like sheer doom at speeds of more than 50 mph. Divers are judged on aesthetics and degree of difficulty, including their initial leap, the number of twists and somersaults they make, their position during the somersaults, and their entry into the water. Among the judges at the Texas event is four-time Olympic gold medalist Greg Louganis, perhaps the most famous diver in the world.

Possum Kingdom Lake, a reservoir on the Brazos River, was chosen for its dramatic twin cliffs, known as Hell’s Gate, that form the entrance to a placid cove. The U.S. event will see 14 male divers, as well as eight women in the first World Series for females.

The World Series tour kicked off in May in Havana, Cuba. The Texas competition is the second event, followed by dives in Inis Mór, Ireland (June 29), Kragerø, Norway (July 11), São Miguel, Azores, Portugal (July 26), Bilbao, Spain (September 20), and Niterói, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (October 19).

Mark Orwoll is the International Editor of Travel + Leisure. You can follow @orwoll on Twitter or Like him on Facebook.

Photo by Camilo Rozo / Red Bull Cliff Diving

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