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European Extreme Sports!


Extreme Sports in Europe:

It’s good to see the bonds of friendship between the various European extreme sports communities grow and strengthen. We are all richer for it. Extreme sports in Europe have been revolutionised by the age of cooperation that was ushered in by the creation of the European Community. Professional skaters from Spain, German rock climbing elites, Italian BMX riders and French parkour practitioners can all freely move throughout the community in the pursuit of developing and enhancing their skills, art and trade. However, it would be totally wrong to assume that the E.U. has brought about an amorphous hegemony in the world of European extreme sports. Love Extreme Sports takes a look at which extreme sports are most popular in the European Union’s “Big Five” – The U.K., Germany, France, Spain and Italy.


The United Kingdom:

Mixed Martial Arts:

MMA is booming in the U.K. UFC and BAMMA regularly sell-out some of the country’s biggest venues and arenas. British stars of Mixed Martial Arts are having a significant impact on the world stage. Countless local and regional Mixed Martial Arts clubs have sprung up across the U.K. in the past 10 years.

BMX and Skate:

It is becoming increasingly common for large towns and cities in the U.K. to provide BMX / Skate park facilities. Over the past 6 months and despite of cuts in government spending, literally hundreds of parks have been given the green light by local authorities. Packed-out most days, these facilities are in big demand.


Kite Surfing is definitely a boom sport in the U.K. Less than 3 years ago few Brits would have known much about this particular extreme sport, but these days it’s pretty difficult to ignore it. If you live anywhere near the coast or a large lake / estuary, the sight of kite-surfers zipping across the waves has probably become very familiar.

Cycle Sports:

8 out of the 19 gold medals won by Great Britain at the 2008 Beijing Olympics were awarded in cycling events. Mountain Biking in particular is a favoured past time for many Brits. The U.K. remains a world and a European leader when it comes to professional cyclists and international competitions.

Windsurfing / Surfing:

The U.K. was the birthplace of windsurfing. The sport evolved from the waters that separate the Isle of Wight from the mainland. From out the waters of the Solent emerged the world phenomena that is modern windsurfing. Add to this the fact that Agatha Christie was the first person  in Europe to surf standing-up on a surfboard (according to Cornish legend) and you can easily see why the U.K. has a solid claim to be the home of European surfing.



Martial Arts:

In France, martial arts are a national obsession. This is particularly true of Judo, which is practised regularly by an astonishingly large section of the French public. However, Muay Thai, Jiu Jitsu and Capoeira have all put down strong roots on the other side of the Channel.


It should come as no surprise that the nation that gave the world the art of movement, should remain its spiritual homeland. For many, many years, Parisians have vehemently  rejected being restrained and restricted by alien forces. Parkour is perhaps the ultimate expression of this collective psychology. It creates a world in which Parkour participants regain control over their physical environment.


Canoeing is hugely popular in France. Almost one million French men and women regularly go canoeing and there are over 700 specialist canoeing clubs throughout the country. It seems particularly fitting that canoeing became an Olympic sport at the 1924 Paris Olympic Games. At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, France secured two medals in canoe events.



Italians are famous for their love of motor-racing. Italian teams will often dominant at Grand Prix and Italy has produced some of the world’s leading Formula One drivers. The passion does not stop with cars. Italians also have a deep passion for motocross, producing many of the world elites, including Davide Guerneri, Tony Cairoli and Stefy Bau.

Mountain Biking:

Italy has the Alps. The best the U.K. can muster is the Highlands of Scotland. Perhaps this explains why Mountain Biking is so hugely popular in Italy. The nation has certainly contributed it’s fair share of cycle legends over the years – including Gino Bartali and Fausto Coppi . Italy plays host to the world famous Giro d’Italia, which, together with the Tour de France and the Vuelta a Espana, forms part of the Grand Tours, the world’s premier international cycle championship. Despite Italy’s impressive cycling pedigree, the U.K. still roundly beat its Meditteranean cousin in the cycling medal tally at Beijing 2008.


It’s not enough that the Italians have fantastic beaches, amazing weather, incredible food and wine and an abundance of beautiful historic cities, they’ve also got to have the splendour of the Alps on their doorstep. I call this plain greedy myself! The Italian Alps provide the lucky population of Northern Italy with the perfect excuse to take up skiing. May be this is the reason why skiing is so massively popular in Italy. Well over 2 million Italians can be classed as active skiers, with plenty more regularly indulging in snowboarding and ice climbing.



Passion courses through the veins of the average Spaniard like cholesterol courses through the veins of the average British lorry driver. It should therefore come as no surprise that sports with a good deal of exuberant passion and flurry are often embraced and taken firmly to the collective Iberian bosom. There are few extreme sports that are as passionate as Capoeira. Not quite dance, not quite fighting, Capoeira is as much about lifestyle and ideology as it is about physical practice. Capoeira is massively popular in Spain, having been exported from Brazil to the Spanish peninsula many years a go.


Kilian Martin, one of the very best skateboarders in the world, is from Spain. He is emblematic of the massive surge in the popularity of the extreme sport en Espana. Spain looks set to become a major player in the world of professional international skateboarding. Many of the future kings and queens of skateboarding will have learnt their craft on the dusty Spanish plains.

Martial Arts:

Other than Capoeira, several martial arts are very popular in Spain, including Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Judo and wrestling. Spanish martial arts fighters are amongst some of the best in the world.


Snow Sports:

The largest state in Germany is Bavaria, which boasts some of Europe’s finest Alpine terrain. Mountain living has contributed to the Germans becoming world leaders at many snow sports, including alpine skiing, cross country skiing, bobsleigh, snowboarding, speed skating and ski jumping. The nation has spawned many a skiing legend, including Ulrich Wehling, who became the first male competitor (outside of skating) to win three consecutive medals in the same event at the 1972 Winter Olympics.  Germany finished second in at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, with a total of 30 medals.

Rock Climbing / Mountaineering:

With the Eastern Alps on their doorstep and infamous summits, such as Zugspitze, the Watzmann Peaks and Madelegabel, freely available to the German people, it should come as no surprise that the Deutschlanders are European leaders at hiking, mountaineering and rock climbing.

Canoeing / Kayaking:

At the 2008 Olympics the Germans kept the pressure-up on the U.K., often finishing narrowly behind the British competitors. Canoeing and Kayaking are both extremely popular in Germany and the country came boast some of the best rivers for the sport. Germany also has some excellent locations for white water rafting.


*** Photograph By Playing Futures ***

Tags: Europe, European Extreme Sports, Extreme Sports, France, Germany, Italy, Most Popular Sports, Spain, U.K.

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