Base Jumping Stunt In Norway Goes Terribly Wrong

Ouch! When base jumper Richard Henriksen decided to add a gymnastics element to his daring stunt, he expected everything to go smoothly. Unfortunately, Henriksen did not foresee the high bar he was performing his routine on to completely collapse, propelling him head first over a cliff.

According to, the father of five was performing the stunt for a television program on the NRK network in Norway when the terrifying incident occurred. In the video, you can see Henriksen make one complete flip around the high bar, the crowd cheers and then everything falls apart.

Luckily, the daredevil survived the 3,937-foot fall. Narrowly missing contact with the rock face of the cliff, Henriksen managed to open his parachute on the way down.

We’re just glad he’s okay.

Everybody loves Arirang according to North Korean news agency

It’s Arirang time! The North Korean group gymnastics festival is under way, and the crowds are predictably adoring. According to the Korea Central News Agency, the twenty-fifth batch of campers of the Songdowon International Children’s Camp “appreciated the grand gymnastic and artistic performance.” But, that shouldn’t come as a surprise because it was in KCNA.

Shockingly, the KCNA continued:

Zhaoli, head of the group of Chinese campers, said that the performance is the acme and the Korean people are demonstrating before the whole world their dignity under the wise leadership of General Secretary Kim Jong Il.

Russian campers were happy, too. Nataliya Andreyevskaya, who headed up the sixth group, “keenly felt through the performance that each country and nation can become glorious and powerful only when they have a great leader.”

And since no KCNA report is complete without this … “[Nataliya Tatarina of the first group of Russians] stressed that no force on earth can match the strength of the Korean people closely united around Kim Jong Il, the sun of the 21st century.”

[photo by yeowatzup via Flickr]

Olympic Games opening, Chinese style: The wow factor

Wow! Wow! Wow! I could go on.

Even though today’s news brought the missive of the out of character stabbing of an American tourist in Beijing, the opening ceremony of the Olympics was certainly in character.

It was amazing–and I only saw the last bit. That’s one detail about traveling; world events swirl about in the periphery until a thought passes through, like, “Didn’t the Olympics start today?” and the TV is flipped on to the right channel. I remembered the Olympics just in time to catch the finale.

The NBC TV commentators were as amazed by the ceremonial hoopla as much as I was– maybe even more. Even though they expected a spectacular showing from China, the result was brilliant.

As Matt Lauer asked about the opening, “Is it usually this way?” Bob Costas said, summarized in a word, “No.”

The synchronized acrobatics and dance routines in the final clips before the credits rolled were versions of performances I saw at the school where I taught in Taiwan– X 100, of course. Once a year there is Field Day where the entire school day is given over to athletic competitions. Each grade also performs a synchronized performance that takes hours of practice.

To see what can be done with hundreds of school kids who pay attention is astounding. I wasn’t surprised to see what can be done with adults. Still, the result was a spectacular feat of skill and wonder.

My favorite part, hands down, was gymnast Li Ning’s trip around the top of the stadium while he was suspended by cables. As he held the torch aloft, making perfectly executed running motions, a scroll screen unfurled to show a video montage of the torch’s trip around the world.

At the end, he lit the torch by lighting a fuse which carried the flame to the main torch that burst into flames. This was followed by a fireworks display like no other–several mimicked the shape of the Olympic rings.

As I said to my friend who was watching it with me, “Can you imagine, the group of people sitting in a room thinking up ideas for what could be done to light the torch? Isn’t it fantastic that someone came up with this? Isn’t it great what people envision?”

I’m a sentimental sap though. My husband thinks I should be in “Up with People.” If one puts cynicism aside, and forgets that perhaps governments stage events to show off might, to focus on those with the creativity to orchestrate such pleasure, the world does look brighter.

This video clip from the The Wall Street Journal On-Line gives an interesting overview of what the Chinese were thinking and doing on August 8 before the opening ceremonies started. Getting married and having babies were part of the activiites. It finishes with a bit of the fireworks. I wish it showed Li Ning.

Sometimes, it’s good to feel a bit of wonder and leave problems aside for a moment or two. Just call me Mary, as in Mary Sunshine. For a wonderful slide show, check out this link from The New York Times. Li Ning is number 12.