Outdated park ordinances are gone in Boulder, Colorado, and a new, permanent slacklining course is in the works, paving the way for the emerging sport in one of the nation’s top outdoor destinations.
Eight Boulder parks are adopting the city manager’s new rules.
“Up until now, slacklining has been illegal in most cities, and slackliners have had to fly under the radar. Now we have a path to ‘legitimacy,’ if you will,” Justin Wagers, a professional slackliner, tells GrindTV.
Slackliner Tyler Shalvarjian, a recent graduate of the University of Colorado Boulder, represented the Slackers at CU club in talks with Boulder Parks and Recreation to encourage the shift, which will allow more people to try the balancing act in a casual park environment.
“Finally I can slackline without getting ticketed!” Shalvarjian, who was fined $250 a couple of years ago for rigging a line over 300 feet in Boulder’s Martin Park, tells GrindTV.
Jeff Haley, manager of planning, design and community engagement for Boulder Parks and Recreation, tells GrindTV that the updated rules are working well. He’s heard of no citations since the rollout several months ago.
The loosened guidelines — which benefit recreational slackliners, but don’t accommodate professionals training on high- or longlines, or trickliners who are forbidden to perform their flips publicly — vary by park.
“The goal all along was to allow slacklining in Boulder at select areas,” Haley says. “We’re not in the business of providing these elite experiences. Our goal was a recreation-based approach for youth, parents and families just getting into the sport.”
Tree types and spacing differ in each outdoor space, meaning each park has a different “level” of available slacklining. “Lines can be placed on certain trees in certain parks up to different lengths,” Shalvarjian says.
He recommends Scott Carpenter Park, on the city’s east side, for beginner to intermediate slackliners. At Martin Park, the scene of Shalvarjian’s past crime, he can now enjoy practicing on his favorite lines, up to 330 feet long.
With the allowances, however, come clear restrictions to protect people and parks. One of the biggest is mandatory tree protection at each webbing loop. But this can consist of anything from a towel to a pair of jeans, says Shalvarjian.
Another significant change is that for any lines over 50 feet long, slackers must place visible safety tags or flags along the line to ensure people passing through can see it. There have been some liability cases with people getting hurt after unintentionally biking or walking into slacklines.
It’s a small price to pay, says Shalvarjian, who now leaves tags on his lines for ease. Slacklining is allowed only during park hours, and all lines must be removed after use.
With this new window of opportunity, the slackline community is investing in a permanent course at South Boulder’s Tantra Park.
Boulder Parks and Recreation agreed to install a small, four-pole slack course for lines between 15 and 100 feet long if the community could crowdfund half the fee ($2,500). The co-op worked, and Boulder-based Slackline Industries confirmed in a press release that it provided the park’s design and expertise from professional athletes.
“The permanent course in Tantra is going to be great. Not only will it create a new space to practice slacklining, but it provides a spot for community building among slackliners,” Wagers says.
“When you look at other cities that have spots like this — [like] Santa Monica, California — you see these amazing communities where slackliners enable and encourage each other to progress both physically and mentally.”
When the installation opens in November, the slackline course will be the first of its kind in town. However, Shalvarjian points out that while surrounding schools and neighborhoods might use it, Tantra Park is “not a destination spot in Boulder and is far out of the way for most potential users.”
Haley counters that it’s a pilot of sorts. “We are always trying to engage youth population, and slacklining is a trend that we’ve seen recently in these age groups. If everything goes well, we would like to consider this [slackline course] for all of our parks and could start integrating it as we redo them.”
There’s no doubt that the pioneering course and updated rules are accommodating slacklining. But is Boulder truly setting the tone for the sport’s future?
“I’m from LA and they don’t like slackliners out there,” Shalvarjian says. “I’d say Boulder is slightly ahead of the times.”
More slacklining stories from GrindTV