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Student group walks the line with hobby

David Gerad / Senior Lantern reporter

If you were armed with the task of walking across an elastic-type rope tied between two trees, could you pass? What if you saw someone not only walking across, but jumping, running and bouncing on the same rope, could you do the same?

Do you possess the ability to concentrate as well as utilize the strength it takes to maintain your balance on the line?

If you are a member of Slackliners at Ohio State, you do.

The rope is actually called a slackline, used in slacklining, a sport that has been well-known in the climbing community for decades. Now if you picture someone in the Oval at OSU with a slackline tied between two trees, the thought might be familiar.

In spring of 2011, the student group Slackliners at OSU came into existence. The president and founder of the club, Andrew Jylkka, a third-year in environmental science, said he got the inspiration for the club one day before class when he was watching slacklining videos.

“I learned slacklining here, people have been slacklining here for years so I figured if there was enough interest I could start a club,” Jylkka said. “It started with a Facebook group and they got on me to talk to OSU and make it an actual club.”

Despite being fairly new around campus, the club now has more than 80 members on Facebook. Adam Bush, a fifth-year in mechanical engineering and an officer for the Slackliners, said about 10 to 15 core members make up the foundation of the group.

“I didn’t even know what (slacklining) was until I saw people doing it on campus,” said Chad Gillis, a third-year in criminology.

Bush said slacklining isn’t just limited to the trees, it’s actually composed of many different variables as well as multiple styles of slacking.

“There is longlining, highlining and tricklining,” Jylkka said. “I like to longline, which means I’m trying to walk across a line that’s 150-200 feet long but my goal is to get up to around 500-600 feet.”

Jylkka said highlining is done between a gap high in the air, like a canyon.

“There are so many more variables to highlining like the wind or anxiety that my anchor isn’t clipped in correctly,” Bush said. “I consider highlining past the point of no return so if you fall, you’re going to be seriously injured or not going to make it.”

Jylkka said the club has slackers of many styles and is open to slackers of any style. They meet Friday afternoons, weather permitting, at Goodale Park between High Street and Neil Avenue in Columbus’s Short North for a slack session.

Jylkka said, the slackliners at OSU have been going to Goodale Park this year instead of campus or the Oval because they are currently not permitted to use university trees due to paragraph five of the Rules Governing the Use of Outdoor Space at OSU, which states, “No bills, signs, or banners may be attached to university furniture, trees, or light poles,” meaning the club cannot set up slacklines on campus.

“After I questioned the rule, I was told that Ohio State is worried that our slacklines might be damaging to the trees and, therefore, they don’t want us to use them,” Jylkka said.

The slackliners are currently in negotiation with OSU’s administration to see if there is any potential solution to the rule, which would allow them to use the university’s trees.

“We know people have independently been using OSU’s trees this year,” Bush said. “But, as a group we promote the use of tree protection out of respect for Ohio State and to avoid any damage of the trees.”

For now, the Slackliners will have to stick with using the trees in Goodale Park until further decisions are made.

“I didn’t realize Ohio State had rules like that,” Gillis said. “If I wanted to slackline, I didn’t expect I wouldn’t be allowed to on-campus.”

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