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X-Rated in Prime Time
Action sports shows are catching big air time at several
networks, but NBC is taking the most daring leap of faith with
its plans for Adrenaline X

Picture this: snowboarders being dropped from a crane into a
25-foot quarterpipe, then lounging later in their
6,000-square-foot "cabin" in Jackson Hole while the cameras
continue to roll. Or this: Motocross freestylists one-upping each
other with jumps and flips off 40-foot-high ramps, then, trailed
by a video crew, heading to their Airstream trailers in pursuit
of some off-course intrigue. Does this sound like prime-time
network television fare?

It does to NBC. The Peacock, encouraged by the big-air ratings of
snowboarding and aerial skiing at the 2002 Salt Lake City
Olympics, is planning to air two episodes, each an hour long, of
Adrenaline X this summer, though which prime-time slot the show
will fill has yet to be determined. The network hopes viewers
will connect with athletes like Jim Rippey, a snowboarder,
skateboarder and freestyle snowmobiler who was the first to
perform a backflip on a snowmobile, and Doriane Vidal, a French
snowboarder who won a silver at the 2002 Olympics. "The Olympic
coverage created all these stars," says Adrenaline X executive
producer Ben Silverman. "We thought, Why not bring them back to
prime time?"

Adrenaline X will be hosted by Troy Hartman (a former X Games
gold medalist in skysurfing) and former Miss USA Kimberly
Pressler (who was one of Stuff magazine's "101 Sexiest Women in
the World" but has no apparent athletic credentials), and is
billed by Silverman as part action-sports competition, part
reality show. The first episode centers on eight snowboarders,
four male and four female, who will compete in coed pairs for a
prize of $50,000. The competitions include a big-air game of
P-I-G, in which contestants try to match each other's tricks,
plus the aforementioned crane drop into a quarterpipe. To give
the program its reality-show twist, the athletes will be filmed
while they live together, The Real World-style, during the
three-day competition. Silverman has shot a second episode with
eight top freestyle motocross riders in the Nevada desert. If the
two shows are hits, Silverman will extend the concept to other
action sports such as skateboarding and surfing.

NBC is not the only network eager to get into the action-sports
game. The youth-friendly WB Network will air Boarding House:
North Shore as a six-week series beginning June 18. The show,
produced by Eco-Challenge and Survivor creator Mark Burnett,
follows seven pro surfers who lived together in Hawaii as they
competed in last December's Vans Triple Crown of Surfing. Fox
Sports, meanwhile, has had modest success with its two-month-old
54321. The daily half-hour show, which is billed as an
action-sports version of SportsCenter, is hosted by pro BMX rider
Kip Williamson and former lingerie model Leeann Tweeden.

The appetite for action-sports programs among teenagers has shown
no sign of abating. In the just-released ESPN Sports Poll, 79.3%
of 12- to 17-year-olds called themselves fans of extreme sports,
the highest of any sport's category. (The NFL was second,
baseball sixth.) "These are the shows that the youths are
watching," says Tom DeCabia, executive vice president for ad
buyer PHD. "I don't think extreme-sports TV is a genre that is
burning itself out by any means. It keeps reinventing itself, and
it keeps delivering the audience." --Pete McEntegart


Through Monday only one of the six competitors in the Flora 1,000
Mile Challenge--in which participants run exactly one mile every
hour for 1,000 hours over the London Marathon course (SI, March
17)--had dropped out. Two notable developments after the 700-mile
mark: Rory Coleman, one of the three remaining men in the field,
complained that he had gained weight since the beginning of the
competition, and Shona Crombie-Hicks was consistently running
six-minute miles more than two thirds of the way through the
event, the finish of which coincides with the start of Sunday's
London Marathon. Each competitor who completes the six-week jaunt
will receive £7,000 ($11,200). He or she can then run in the
marathon, and the first male and first female from the Flora
group to finish, if it's in less than seven hours, will each run
off with an additional £3,000.

Olympic moguls master Jonny Moseley jumps into competitive sailing

Jonny Moseley, 1998 Olympic freestyle skiing champion and current
MTV host, has set course toward a new goal. After finishing
fourth in the moguls at the 2002 Winter Games, Moseley has
bounced back to his first love: sailing. Moseley, 27, who will
team up with his older brothers, Rick and Jeff, is training for
the Audi Melges 24 world championship regatta to be held in
October in San Francisco.

"I love sailing," says Moseley, who in January pulled out of
ESPN's Winter X Games, reportedly to put in some training time on
the water. "I grew up sailing every day, and it's something I can
do into my gray years."

The Moseleys plan to enter several Bay Area regattas to prepare
for the world championship. "We race at least once a month," says
Rick. "We were all over the place last year, but we're getting
there. We're hoping to do pretty well at the world championship."
After that Jonny hopes to return to the Olympics--on water, not
snow. --John Clarke Jr.

Because it's there doesn't mean the world's tallest unclimbed
peak will be conquered soon. Or does it?

Of all the renowned peaks in the Himalayas, not Everest, not K2,
not Annapurna, but rather Gangkar Punsum in the tiny Buddhist
kingdom of Bhutan might represent mountaineering's crown jewel,
if only because, at 24,806 feet (7,561 meters), it remains the
world's tallest unclimbed mountain. For all but a few months
since 1979, Bhutan--wary of the cultural and environmental
pollution that mountaineering has generated in nearby Nepal--has
banned the sport, and most top climbers believe the ban won't be
lifted in the near future. However, the climbers might be wrong.

There is a small but growing movement among Bhutanese government
officials to reopen the kingdom to climbers as early as 2006,
though only on a limited basis. "We get so much interest from
outsiders wanting to go up our mountains, and finally we decided,
Let's look for a way to accommodate them," says Thuji Nadik, the
joint director for plans and programs at Bhutan's Department of
Tourism. "We're considering a plan to open peaks reaching as high
as 6,000 meters."

That proposal may not sound like a big deal, as the country's
tallest peaks would still be off-limits, but opening the window
even a crack into Bhutan's thin air would be a monumental
development. "Bhutan has the most prized collection of closed-off
mountains in the world, and a lot of expeditions will head for
those peaks if the policy changes," says Doug Scott, the famed
British climber who summitted 22,274-foot (6,789-meter) Jichu
Drake in 1988, when Bhutan briefly lifted its ban and granted
climbing permits to a few select expeditions.

Bhutan's National Assembly--which will make the final decision on
the lifting of the ban--is certain to encounter stiff resistance
from the country's religious mountain villagers, who believe the
presence of foreigners on their sacred peaks in the past
infuriated the mountain deities and was responsible for the
destruction of crops and natural disasters that befell the
region. That outcry prompted the 1979 ban. "The [ban] was a
reflection of our belief that humans don't have to conquer
everything," says Uguyen Tshering, Bhutan's foreign secretary.

Not every climber would disagree. "I remember Bhutan as an oasis
of sanity," says Scott. "It seemed like the government was really
running the country for the benefit of the people rather than the
financial gain of individuals. If they open the door to climbing,
I'd be surprised if they can find a way to contain it so that it
doesn't grow out of control and destroy the culture." --Rick Lipsey

COLOR PHOTO: FRED FOTO RISKY PROGRAMMING Rippey, the first to do a backflip on asnowmobile, will star in NBC's new series, which will be hostedby Hartman and Pressler (below).


COLOR PHOTO: NATHAN BILOW NO MO' SNOW Known for his "air grab" (top), Moseley has now takenthe helm as a sailor. THEN