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Epic Flail

Epic Flail

Danny Hamen

I am atop a 70-foot wooden landing, the timbered horizon of Butler, Ohio set before me in full view, a scenic panorama flanked by low, rolling hills and a buffet of marshmallow clouds in my sights.

At my feet, I am confronted with steep, lubricated slide that finales into a goliath human takeoff ramp, shooting its victim 25 feet into the air and into an underground pool.

The only guidelines I am given is to get a running start, dive headfirst, and to not look down once I am airborne, as it will cause me to careen forward and land on my face. As I make my way to edge of the structure, I look down with worry. Surely, no one has died on the Slip N’ Fly I remind myself, but goddamn a belly smacker sure seems painful.

In truth, the Slip N’ Fly is actually just a repurposed ski ramp designed by and for the true adrenaline freaks of Ohio. It belongs to the Ohio Dreams Network, an action sports training camp for 7 to 17 year olds. In order to practice tricks, like a no-hander 360 can-can, (you can’t make this shit up) riders would take their extreme ride of choice, be it a pair of skis or a BMX bike, down the ramp, landing safely into the swimming pool below. Well, one hot summer day, a 14-year-old camper facetiously suggested that they turn the trick ramp into a slip and slide for a day. Enthralled by the suggestion, camp owner, Chris Ashcraft, ran straight to Home Depot, bought a shit-ton of black tarps, and voila, the prototype of the Slip N’ Fly was birthed into creation.

As you can imagine, it wasn’t really that safe at that time, and only the adults were aloud to do it. Eventually, they decided to contact some builders and engineers to come up with a more permanent solution. That solution? A top-secret propriety, super slippery material that shoots its riders down the slide with comfort, grace, and a ludicrous amount of speed. For a while, the slide was just for the campers, until the adults started throwing private parties. Slowly but surely, the parties grew, until over 200 friends and acquaintances toppled one final private bash, triggering Ashcraft and his business partner, Justin Travis, to start throwing official events.

Soon, the slide sparked viral attention, the official “Legendary Slip N’ Fly” YouTube video now boasting well over a million hits. The first of its kind, The Slip N’ Fly has also been featured on popular fail compilations, such as Fail Army, of riders unsuccessfully completing their front flip and falling in excruciating looking positions.

Want to ride the Slip N’ Fly? Well, there are two events happening this month. First off is the Slip N Fly Country Fest on August 13. The official flyer depicts a gentleman wearing a turquoise studded cowboy hat and a Confederate flag button up shirt, viciously shredding a silver Fender held up with a yellow police line guitar strap. This, I would say, sums up what to expect at the country fest: A lot of good ol’ boys and girls playing honkytonk hits, and a lot of flying and falling.

Next up is the Sports and Music Fest, held August 19 – 21. Sponsored by New Belgium, there will be a full beer garden, camping, live music, and a lot of midair smiles. Tickets are going fast for this one, so get yours today if you want to face the Slip N’ Fly in the flesh.

Fortunately for me, I get to watch my tour guide, Bobby “Thor” Peterson—a ripped, longhaired thunder god of man—barrel his way down the slide before me. He skids down on his knees and wrists, whooshing forward like robotic ski dog, ramping into the air, and doing a couple back flips while he is at it, gracefully landing into the water feet first.

Easy right?

Now it is my turn. Being told to jump headfirst, belly down, essentially off a cliff is as intimidating as it sounds. I take a deep breath, step ten paces back, and pray to God. I start running forward, hesitate at mouth of slide, and kind of just plop my body onto the polymer luge. I glide downward, shrieking all the way to the entrance ramp. As I launch into the air, I focus on the horizon, try to not look down, and to give the Triple H, “Suck It” move a try. Splash!

Yeah, I was hooked. Over and over, I run up the stairs, fling myself down, and try to not scream obscenities in front of the children campers. All hail the Slip N’ Fly I say—truly an extreme wonder of the world, right here in rural Ohio.

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