Tuesday, October 27, 2009

BASE jumping is no longer exclusively a men’s domain, as a handful of women show

White men can't jump? Women can't jump? Says who? The 'glass' ceiling has long been broken...

Tuesday October 27, 2009


JUMPING off cliffs and mountains is no longer something only for the men, as more women have stepped up to such extreme challenges.

During the recent KL Tower International Malaysia Jump 2009, a total of 80 participants signed up to jump off the 380m-tall tower, and among these brave souls were a handful of women.

Like their male counterparts, the women feared nothing; they just wanted to get up there and have fun. What was more interesting was that almost all were first-timers in Malaysia.

Free fall: Sverdlenko raising her arms in her first dive off the tower.

Russian Larisa Sverdlenko said she had heard about the tower jump from friends who had participated in the annual event, and it had prompted her to make her maiden trip to Malaysia to participate in it, too.

“I have never come to Malaysia before, so this is like a holiday and diving trip,” said Sverlenko, who was formerly a skydiver in the Russian national team, The Ladybirds.

The 39-year-old, who now works as an instructor in the wind tunnel, training aspiring skydivers, said she decided to take up BASE (buildings, antennas, spans and earth) jumping as she found it more interesting.

“We get to see more things, such as tall buildings and a general view of the city, being a base jumper,” said Sverdlenko, who has recorded 150 BASE jumps in Russia, Norway, Italy and Switzerland.

She said the KL Tower Jump would be her second tower jump, the first being the Ostankino Tower in her home country.

New fun activity: Mancino is a full-time professional skydiver and is now moving on to BASE jumping with her boyfriend.

Meanwhile, Wioletta Roslan, 34, from Sweden, who was also on her first trip to Malaysia for the event, said the weather here might be a little warmer than it was in other countries but it suited her fine.

“I have no complaint, it is my kind of temperature here.

“It is also easier to jump in this weather,” said Roslan, who took up skydiving when she was just 19 years old.

Roslan, who works as an oil rig inspector, said flying allowed her to be “alive” and made her feel that there were no limits in life.

“Even if the things l enjoy doing may be seen as high and scary, I love it; every level of height gives a different kind of excitement to jumpers.

“If I had to pick a favourite, it would be the wingsuit flying I did in Switzerland — it made me feel like I was flying with wings attached to me!” said Roslan, who has completed some 600 BASE jumps.

Italian skydiver Roberta Mancino said she had only taken up BASE jumping recently after having been a skydiver for the past nine years.

Mancino, a popular sports personality in her home country, had logged an impressive 5,500 skydives before embarking on being a BASE jumper with her boyfriend Jeb Corliss.

“It is something new and fun which I look forward to each time, whether it is from a tower or mountain,” Mancino, 29, said during the trial jump session recently.

Among the countries participating in the Jump this year were Italy, New Zealand, India, Ireland, Denmark, Russia, Holland, Norway, Turkey, Canada, Indonesia, China, Singapore and Malaysia.

Besides the usual day jumps, KL Tower also allowed the professionals to do night jumps, a new addition to the BASE jump circuit this year.

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