The special kick with a unicycle
Today, more and more people define themselves through their leisure time. They are looking for the special “kick”. Faster, fancier and more dangerous – extreme sports are moving more and more into the center of our society, among others as a result of the increasing use of social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube. Extraordinary experiences are shared through various social media platforms and let others participate in the stimulus of the extreme and speed. However, what drives exceptional athletes to risk their health and lives repeatedly? Is it the attraction to risks, the pursuit of fame or something completely different? And who are the characters behind those athletes?
Gerald Rosenkranz is one of those exceptional sportsmen. The young man from Graz, Austria, is among the best unicyclists worldwide. He is active within the disciplines “Downhill”, “Uphill”, “Cross-Country” and “Trial & Street”. A downhill race on rough terrain with an average speed of 40 kilometers per hour on a unicycle is no problem for him. At the age of 24, medals from world championships and Austrian championships are already part of his collection.
With the PUMPS magazine, the tall Grazer spoke frankly about his passion and gave a deep, honest insight into his extreme sport.
Originally coming from the discipline of cross country – mountain biking, Gerald exchanged the bike with a unicycle at some point in his youth. Time passed as he started to get a feeling for the new device, but quite soon he was jumping on boardwalks and across other barriers, eventually entering the alpine terrain. Why? For him personally, it was this extra challenge. Downhill unicycling is so much more difficult and requires enormous skills regarding physical aspects, balance, and technique. The wish to become better every day got him addicted and has lead him to where he is today – among the best unicyclists in the world.
It is sometimes quite difficult to define whether sports activities count as some form of extreme sports or not. In Gerald’s opinion, it gets pretty close if you have to push yourself every time to do something. Just thinking of upcoming downhill races gives him an uncomfortable feeling, sometimes even before he starts. But once he sets off all this is forgotten. The focus on the track is so strong that he does not give a single thought on how dangerous this sport actually is. The feeling during a downhill ride is unique, he can feel every single root or stone on the track. He is just totally in the “flow”. “I guess other people have to take drugs, in order to get this feeling. It is just extremely addictive”, he says. His motivation is that he does something that others do not dare to do and he wants to become better in it every single day and try new things.
As a real professional, Gerald knows exactly about the danger lurking in every competition and race. A few years ago he would not give a single thought about what could possibly happen, but with advancing age, this has changed. During performing his passion and, of course, his focus on the sport outweighs such thoughts, but before the start and after passing the finish line, they are occasionally on his mind. This does not mean he is scared, but he just shows enough respect towards nature, competitors, and hikers, who also regularly cross the tracks.
"I think, without respecting nature and the tracks, it can get very dangerous."
Despite numerous national as well as international successes, his answer to the question of his greatest success comes within fractions of a second: his successful mastering of the “Dolomitenmann”. The “Dolomitenmann” is an annual relay competition in Lienz, Austria, and is considered one of the toughest team competitions worldwide. The relay consists of four different sports: mountain running, paragliding, mountain biking, and kayaking. As the first participant ever, Gerald started on a unicycle on the mountain bike route in 2015. Hardly anyone had believed that he could master this challenge. It has been really the hardest task of his career so far. For an entire week after it, he was not able to run and walk properly.
"My parents did not want me to become a downhill mountain biker, but they never mentioned unicycles."
Statements like "You cannot do it" or "It's absolutely impossible to …" push Gerald even more. One reason is that he got a lot of antipathies, when he was still in school. Fellow students offended him when they would see him practicing. When he was out with friends on the weekend, some people, for example, would just greet him with "ohh the unicyclist". But those negative experiences did not break him and he learned a lot from them. In this life, he still has tons of plans. After finishing a bachelor’s degree, he aims to pursue a master’s degree in sports sciences and also looks for a job suitable for his personality. A 9 to 5 office job would definitely not fit. He is definitely not lacking motivation, since unicycle journeys, extreme tours, alps crossings etc. are part of his daily routine. We wish him all the best for his future and are sure to be hearing from him again soon.