April 7, 2015 | BOULDER, Colorado
Omer Mei-Dan has jumped off more cliffs than he can count — not to mention helicopters, skyscrapers, and bridges. Just don't call him a skydiver.
An orthopedic surgeon and extreme sports athlete, Mei-Dan, 42, is a BASE jumper — one of an estimated 1,500 to 3,000 worldwide who jump from the fixed platforms for which the sport is named: buildings, antennas, spans, and earth. Skydiving is a cakewalk by comparison.
Because BASE jumpers leap from much lower altitudes, they often have mere milliseconds to deploy their parachutes. And for leaps that involve hazards below, like craggy mountainsides or steel structures, the risks are exponentially greater. To guide and control their falls, jumpers often don wingsuits, which make them look like bats or flying squirrels.
Perhaps not surprisingly, BASE jumpers are killed with alarming regularity. Even a tiny mistake or misfortune — a gust of wind, impeded visibility, an equipment mishap — can mean sudden and violent death.
But that's all part of the thrill.
"I like being afraid, I like the fear, I enjoy it," Mei-Dan told JTA in an interview in Boulder, where he lives with his wife and three children. "In BASE jumping, every small thing dictates life or death. It makes me feel vibrant. Extreme sports athletes have the ability to sustain, cope with and enjoy the amount of stress other people would define as bad experiences."
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For more information, contact:
University of Colorado Department of Orthopedics
Anschutz Medical Campus, Academic Office 1
12631 E. 17th Avenue, Mailstop B202, Aurora, CO 80045
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