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  • Anthony Menzor, of Aurora, surfs during the open qualifiers for...

    KASIA BROUSSALIAN

    Anthony Menzor, of Aurora, surfs during the open qualifiers for the highline slackline competition at the Spot Bouldering Gym in Boulder on Thursday. The slacklining event is part of a larger competition that takes place on Saturday.

  • A man, who identified himself only as Fox, poses on...

    KASIA BROUSSALIAN

    A man, who identified himself only as Fox, poses on the line during the open qualifiers for the highline slackline competition at the Spot Bouldering Gym in Boulder on Thursday. The slacklining event is part of a larger competition that takes place on Saturday.

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If you go

What: The Spot’s bouldering series No. 3: The Highball

When: Noon to 9:30 p.m. Saturday; slacklining starts at 8 p.m., bouldering finals follow

Where: The Spot Bouldering Gym, 3240 Prairie Ave., Boulder

More info: $10 for spectators. Go to thespotgym.com or call 303-379-8806

Spectators can always count on an eyeful of acrobatics at The Spot Bouldering Gym’s competition series, but the eye-candy at this Saturday’s event will include Boulder’s best slackliners pulling off feats of balance high overhead.

The slackline — a narrow, flat nylon line that competitors will walk, jump and flip upon, and probably off — will be strung 18 feet above The Spot’s springy floor.

Not that the competitors will hit the floor if they fall. They’ll be tethered to the line, of course.

Brett Merlin, marketing and membership coordinator for The Spot, says the highline slacklining competition — which falls in the middle of the bouldering competition, during scoring for the finals — has become one of the biggest spectator events of the gym’s already popular four-part bouldering series. The last highline competition, in January, drew a big crowd, he said.

“They’ll take these big huge swinging falls, which are fun to watch,” Merlin said.

One of the slackliners who was asked to compete in the invitational event, Scott Rogers, 22, said that as the sport has progressed, slackliners have started doing increasingly gymnastic moves.

“We have a good congregation of really athletic slackliners that are able to do a lot of really cool tricks on the lines,” Rogers said. “In the past, it’s just been ‘walk across the line and do a few small tricks,’ but now that people are getting better, they can perform bigger tricks,” like back flips and jumps.

Rogers has been slacklining for seven years.

“It’s a lot harder than it looks, and it’s a lot harder than we make it look.”

Adam Broadbent, who works for The Spot and will be a judge in this year’s competition, said the highline presents a unique mental challenge. People learn to slackline just a few feet off the ground, but for some, the progression is to gain more and more air under their feet.

“It’s a totally different head game when you’re on the highline,” he said. “People who are throwing amazing tricks close to the ground, most of those people are floored the first time they try to walk a highline. And I mean mentally floored.”

Rogers, a Boulder resident, does a lot of highlining in Boulder Canyon and near Golden. The highest one he’s walked on was 3,000 feet above the ground in California.

“At that level, there’s so much exposure, it’s really mentally taxing,” he said.

Slacklining’s popularity has boomed, but it’s not a sport to go pro in — yet. Andy Lewis, 23, one of the competitors for the Saturday competition, is about as close to pro as you can get. He has traveled to Europe for events and works at the Boulder-based U.S. distribution center for Gibbon Slacklines. He also teaches slackline lessons.

“There’s not really a pro slackliner stage yet, but we’re getting there,” Lewis said. “I’m trying to at least create a stage for myself.”

Lewis is going to do demos and help instruct slackliners after all of the competitions end Saturday night. But he’ll be teaching close to the ground.

“Slacklining is not only my hobby and my love and my passion now, it’s my job.”

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