It’s action sports madness at JACKALOPE 2018

Jamie O'Meara

It’s a monster, alright. Named for the mythical part jackrabbit/part antelope creature of lore, JACKALOPE — Canada’s largest action sports festival — drew 22,500 adrenaline junkies to Olympic Park last year. They’ll be looking to beat that feat this year with a stellar lineup of action sports stars and innovative and exhilarating activities.

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Lights, camera, participaction!

Now in only its seventh year, Montréal’s JACKALOPE - Action sports festival will play host to 230 athletes competing in seven sports over the course of three days (August 17 to 19). Spreading out over the Esplanade Financière Sun Life of the Olympic Park, the festival consists of international calibre competitions in several sports including skateboarding, BASE jumping, rock climbing and fixed gear cycling. Also taking place are numerous demos in a variety of disciplines and a head-spinning array of participatory sports and other activities designed to keep both athletes and attendees active and entertained.

Girls ramp up the action

At nine years old, Japan’s Sky Brown is not only the hottest name in women’s skateboarding, she’s also the youngest pro boarder in the world and will represent Japan when skateboarding makes its Olympic debut in Tokyo in 2020. In the meantime, your chance to see the soaring sensation before she hits double digits comes when she presents at JACKALOPE’s World Cup of Skateboarding competition, the only stage of the World Cup that’s held in Canada. This year, the event has achieved prize parity, and will award $10,000 each to both the women’s and men’s champions. Among other prominent female skateboarders appearing are the U.S.A.’s Jenn Soto and Brazil’s Mariah Duran, who chalked up first- and third-place wins respectively at the most recent SLS World Tour (the most important street skateboard competition series in the world).

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The Birdman and the Hoffman drop in

At last year’s JACKALOPE, the biggest name in the history of skateboarding performed a 45-minute demo on a 14-foot half-pipe constructed specially for the occasion, wowing the 10,000 spectators in attendance. So how do you follow that up? Easy: do it again. Legend Tony “The Birdman” Hawk makes his return to JACKALOPE this year for another vert demo, and his won’t be the only big name on the bill. BMX freestyle phenom Mat Hoffman will also be performing a demo, and there’s reason to be excited. Not only does his resumé include clearing 26.5 feet above a 24-foot-tall vert quarter pipe (i.e., more than 50 feet above the ground), Hoffman is credited with the invention of more than 100 tricks, such as the Flip Faki (a backflip that includes landing backwards) and Flair (backflip with a 180-degree turn). And he is the only person to successfully execute a no-handed 900 in a competition.

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For three days, life is a competition

In addition to the headlining skateboarding competitions, the pros of bouldering (a variant of rock climbing that features no ropes, no harnesses and, evidently, no fear) will be scaling a custom three-faced wall at a climbing competition organized by Allez Up Climbing/Escalade. There will also be the Vélo iBike FXD Gear criterium, a fixed gear crit (laps around a closed circuit) with both men’s and women’s categories. And, of course, the highest of highlights, the Jump Off BASE jumping competition, which sees participants leaping from the top of the Olympic Stadium’s epic and iconic tower and trying to land on a target bullseye on the Esplanade. In 2016, JACKALOPE hosted the very first BASE jump from the tower, the tallest inclined tower in the world, and this year they’re stepping up the audience experience using drones to broadcast the jumps on giant screens in real time. The jumps will take place each night of the festival, wind permitting.

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Something for every attention span

In addition to advancing action sports, JACKALOPE’s stated mission is to inspire people to participate in sports and stay active. And have tons o’ fun. Take part in loads of free activities including slacklining, yoga, water gun fights, freestyle soccer, rock climbing and a skate park with a mini-ramp for beginners. There’s also a pop-up up shop for grabbing the latest skate gear, and an assortment of Montréal’s famous food trucks to satiate hungry sports fans. And important to note: little JACKALOPians — kids 10 and under — get into the fest for free.

Jamie O’Meara

Jamie O’Meara, blogger

Jamie O’Meara is a writer for The Montreal Gazette, C2 Montréal, Moment Factory and more. He also manages the PR Team at the Just For Laughs Comedy Festival and is the former Editor-in-Chief of alt-weekly newspaper HOUR Magazine.

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