#41 Marco Siffredi

So SSOMG realized yesterday that there are a lot of sports that have not yet been mentioned in the first 40 stories that have been written.  Some of these sports, including bowling, ping pong, ice-dancing and gymnastics probably are worthy of consideration.  Another whole genre of sports also has been ignored…extreme sports.  Not knowing the real definition of an extreme sport, I went looking for information and came up with the following references: white-water rafting (which by the way SSOMG has participated in, not knowing it was considered extreme at the time), hang gliding, alpine skiing, waterfall kayaking, cliff diving, base jumping and running with the bulls.  I guess what makes an extreme sport qualify as an extreme sport is that you have to be risking at least limb, if not life, during the competition. 

So in order to keep the extreme sports fans happy, I have decided to tell the short story about Marco Siffredi, who’s sport of choice, descending Mount Everest and similar peaks by snowboard, definitely qualifies in this category.

In 1979 Marco was born into a mountaineering family.  That probably is good thing if you are planning on making extreme snowboarding your favorite pastime.  Marco started young and by the time he was 20 he was one of the premiere snowboarders in the world, having made several “first” descents of the well known Alps around Chamonix, France.  Over the next two years Marco prepared for the ultimate first descent, the 29,000’ Mount Everest.  Coincidentally, one of Marco’s competitors (how many could there be?) Stefan Gatt decided to make Everest his goal as well.  And so, in addition to one of the most difficult climbs in the world, with the intent to make one of the most dangerous snowboard descents in the world, Marco had the added the stress of getting there first and beating out Gatt.

As history tells it, they both ended up with credit for the first descent of Everest.  After separate, 4 day ascents to the summit by both snowboarders they approached the downhill differently, and so were awarded what we can call a “tie” in making the first descent.

The following year, Marco again prepared for an even more difficult descent of Everest, this time down the route known as the Hornbein Couloir.

Starting his ascent of Everest very late in the year, he reached the summit after a very difficult climb, and just in time for some failing weather conditions.  Although discouraged by his Tibetan sherpas from making the descent Marco pressed on.   Starting the downhill in a blinding snow storm, the sherpas followed but soon lost sight of Marco who had disappeared down the slope. 

Marco Siffredi was never seen again.

Such can be the life of an extreme sports competitor.  Sometimes you swing and miss.  In some sports, you get a second chance; in extreme sports you may not get another look at the pitch.

SSOMG is not too sure about extreme sports guys.  Are they competing with the victory in mind, or are they pushing life’s envelope hoping for the ultimate victory?  I am sure there are many explanations for this.  Marco was 23 years old when he disappeared.  The thing that seems most extreme about his story is that he was extremely young to be going over that hill. 

SSOMG applauds the competition and the healthy aspects of all sports; we are just not too sure about crossing the line of what seems like logic and good judgment; seems Marco may have just crossed that line, swinging away with no 2nd pitch in sight.

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