WATCH: Jaw-dropping XDubai stunts

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Stunning stunts: The places to be in Dubai.

Breaking new ground, Mercedes-Benz Cars Middle East has teamed up with XDubai to capture some of the world’s most exciting athletes and thrill seekers undertake never-before-seen stunts for the creation of its latest film – featuring Mercedes-AMG’s venturesome A 45 4MATIC, the CLA 45 4MATIC and the GLA 45 4MATIC.

In the film, recently launched online but filmed earlier this year, stuntman Damien Walters showcases just why he is a Hollywood favourite, world-renowned skydiver and base jumper Noah Bahnson astonishingly taunts gravity, and Nick Jacobsen, kiteboarding and kitesurfing champion, shows the true meaning of adventure with a record-breaking and world-first feat from the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah’s iconic helipad.

In the record-breaking stunt, Jacobsen drives the stylish and sporty Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 4MATIC to the world’s most luxurious hotel, before fearlessly launching from the famed landmark’s helipad with only his kiteboarding gear. In doing so, Jacobsen completes the highest kiteboarding jump on record – an incredible 210m above the water, smashing his own previous world-record of 90m.

Commenting on the groundbreaking stunt, the XDubai athlete and champion kiteboarder said: “Standing on the top of the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah helipad was a once-in-a lifetime opportunity and launching from it, a global first. It took a lot of planning, precision and safety measures, but it all worked well in the end, and the experience was amazing.”

Along with the unprecedented accomplishment, world record-breaking wingsuit and base jumper, Noah Bahnson also performs a unique stunt that includes an extremely low altitude launch off a Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 4MATIC compact SUV.

Set against the dazzling backdrop of Dubai Marina, the SUV effortlessly pulls Bahnson into the air with a parachute, reaching a height of 131m before he releases himself into a breathtaking freefall towards the sea – opening his parachute nimbly at a mere 67m before floating to the ground.

Not to be outdone, Hollywood stuntman and YouTube sensation, Damien Walters is showcased inside the Mercedes-AMG A 45 4MATIC – the world’s most powerful mid-sized car – at Port Rashid, before impressively climbing out of the car at full speed onto the sunroof and leaping to grab a rope hanging from a crane.

With the Burj Khalifa in the background, Walters swings side to side as the car drifts back, allowing him to deftly jump back into the speeding car in ultimate style. Along with showcasing Walters’ skills, the stunt also highlights the A 45 4MATIC’s modern athletic design with dynamic curved surfaces and the ultimate confidence of this speed machine.

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DOWN UNDER: Less can be more with Super Rugby cut to 15

Alex Broun 10/04/2017
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Fading Force: Isireli Naisarani of Western Force charges through the Southern Kings backline.

The axe has finally fallen and three teams are set to be cut from Super Rugby next season with the tournament offering contracts to just 15 franchises.

In a major blow to a tournament widely regarded as the premier provincial competition in world rugby, two South African sides and one Australian team will exit from a format which has become decidedly un-Super this year.

In a crisply worded statement SANZAAR chairman Brett Impey admitted that, “naturally we understand that there will be some very disappointed franchises.

“But the tournament’s long-term future and the economic reality of the business at present is something that had to be addressed.”

The unwieldy 18-team schedule, which was introduced in 2016 after Argentina’s Jaguares and the Japanese Sunwolves joined the competition and South Africa’s Southern Kings returned, has been widely criticised as a once quality product has been severely diluted.

The Sunwolves have only won two matches in their first year and a half but SANZAAR knows they need to retain the market share and financial opportunities of an Asian-based side, so the pain must be felt by Australia and South Africa.

If it was solely economic reasons then surely one of the Kiwi sides would be up for the chop, but they are so far superior in rugby terms that all five franchises are safe.

Australian teams have not helped their cause with a set of disastrous results. After the weekend the five Australian franchises have played a total of 31 matches for just eight wins.

In comparison the five New Zealand teams have played 32 matches for 23 wins. In a clear reflection of the lack of form, four Australian teams currently reside in the bottom eight, with only the Brumbies troubling the top-half of the table.

The Australian team thought most likely to be binned were the eternally under-performing Perth-based Western Force who in 11 seasons have never made the play-offs and who boast a top table finish of 8th.

The irony this season is that the Force, with two wins from six, are currently ranked as the secondbest Australian team, just above the woeful Waratahs (2 from 7), the ridiculous Reds (1 from 7) and the rabble called the Rebels (0 from 5).

Melbourne’s finest, who sit in 18th spot with a points differential of -162(!), would be many pundits pick for the delete button but complicating the issue is the franchise is privately owned, which could lead the Australian Rugby Union in to a costly legal battle.

However, in a slight change of heart the ARU look set to make the death race a genuine two-horse contest with the Rebels and Force set to argue for their future.

One possibility could be a formerly mooted merger between the Rebels and the Brumbies, which would keep Super Rugby in Melbourne, while preserving the Force.

Force stalwart Matt Hodgson was moved to tears when the possibility of his side’s forced-extinction was brought up at the post-match conference after the 46-41 victory over the visiting Southern Kings on Sunday.

“The way it’s been done is probably the most annoying thing,” said the popular flanker. “Dragged on. I’ve done four press conferences this week and I’ve had one rugby question. That’s annoying. “For kids to turn up here (today) is great. But now they don’t know if the Force are going to be their future.”

Whatever decision is made it’s a massive step backwards for the XV man code in Australia and sure to have the AFL, NRL and A League bosses laughing into their glasses. Rugby fans can only hope the whole appalling mess is sorted quickly and that Super can return to rugby in Australia sooner rather than later.

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INTERVIEW: A slackliner's balancing act

Jay Asser 6/04/2017
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Nightcrawler: Mickey Wilson. Photo: Flow Events.

Not many people have the fortitude or desire to walk across a slackline anchored by two points, suspended at great heights. For Mickey Wilson, that’s a Tuesday.

The American is not only one of the most known slackliners in the world, but one of the most versatile. At Urban Beats at The Beach in Dubai, Wilson delighted the crowd with tricks and flips which few can pull off.

Oh, and he also saved a man’s life earlier this year in Colorado by using his slackline skills to shimmy across a ski lift line to detangle his unconscious friend hanging by his backpack strap.

Sport360° caught up with Wilson to ask him about the experience and his love of slacklining.

How did you start slacklining?

I grew up in Colorado with a trampoline in my backyard. My dad was a professional skier back in his youth and my mom was pretty supportive. I played baseball my whole life, that was my thing. I was pretty athletic but also pretty academic.

I went to college at the Colorado State of Mines where I was working towards a bachelors degree in physics and a masters degree in microelectronics and materials physics because I wanted to save the world with solar energy because oil is going to destroy the world.

I was skiing a lot in college, it was my main thing. I could do flips off of 60-foot cliffs and stuff. I’m probably on track to be a physicist and working in a laboratory. School got harder and I had to ski way less. That really hurt my soul and I was really looking for something and I found it, literally in the backyard of my physics department.

I saw guys on slacklines before and I thought it was stupid. Then I met a guy one day who did a backflip off the line and land back on the line. I still have the email I sent to him eight years ago: ‘Hey Josh, nice to meet you. Can you please send me the list of all the materials I need to make a slackline.’ That’s the evening my life changed forever and I became a slackliner.

You’ve been doing this now for years, but when you’re up there, do you ever get scared?

I’m scared every time I’m up there, bro. A lot of people think they’re going to go up there and there’s a harness that it’s impossible to die. There’s something inherent, intrinsic in our bodies and souls that doesn’t want to be up there.

I’m still learning lessons every time I go out on that line. You learn something about yourself, you learn something about the line, you learn something about the world. It’s the best physics problem I’ve ever encountered.

How much fitness is needed to do this?

I don’t go to gyms anymore, I just slackline. The world is my gym, man. Skiing, kayaking, slacklining, skydiving.

There is some cross training. For tricklining, aerobic and respiratory fitness is very important. For walking, it’s not as important, but for walking you need a different kind of stamina, muscle stamina. I dare you to hold your arms above your head for 40 minutes.


What could you do in Dubai with free rein and your imagination?

I’m trying very hard – because I come to Dubai, this is my sixth time – to help organise an urban highline project in Dubai. It seems so painfully obvious to me that this city should have an urban highline festival. We should have a week period where we get to put lines across a bunch of really cool buildings and make beautiful art.

I don’t think people understand the possibilities and how easy it is to rig these things. It’s not like highwire. It’s a slackline. Honestly if the Prince of Dubai let me go to two of his towers, I could rig a slackline without any preparation in less than a day. I could do it in a morning. Since starting, I’ve been obsessed with slacklining. But no one knows about it, it’s very esoteric.

The first thing when you Google your name, it says you saved a man’s life in a ski lift accident. Did your reaction just kick-in immediately?

No, no man. I was confused and everyone was playing catch-up. People aren’t in those situations. We tried to build a human pyramid and that failed. Before we did that, I didn’t realise he was choking. For 30 seconds, I thought ‘why isn’t he moving?’ Of our four friends, I got made into the story, but I was the slowest to pick up on the severity of the situation.

We had a problem and I’m a problem solver, a physics major. It’s what I do. I looked at that lift tower and I saw the cable. I didn’t see a lift tower and cable, I saw a tree and a slackline. And you know what? My slackline skills prepared me perfectly for that. I was on one of the most hardcore ski mountains in Colorado, surrounded by athletes, and nobody could do a damn thing but me.

I got a little religious about it and it made me ask my girlfriend to marry me, pretty much because of that. Now I’m getting married in August. We’re going to set up a space net over a canyon in Colorado and we’re going to get married on a space net which we weaved together. We’re going to weave a space net and weave our lives.

What’s the coolest setting you’ve ever slacklined in?

My backyard with my wife-to-be. I’ll give you a couple other ones. Rooftop of Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, 3,000 feet in the air above Yosemite Falls, first slackline ever set over the volcano Mount Etna in Sicily and one of my favourites, at my gym Progresh over an airbag.

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