UNDERBELLY is a web series created by Uproxx to offer a high-octane, no-holds-barred look at the underside of sports. It’s about more than the sports themselves, as the series details the athletes that live — and in some cases give their lives — for the sports they love. What drives athletes to engage in activities that will never garner sponsor dollars, contracts or the adoration of fans?
It’s rarely discussed, but the logistics behind a fifteen-second clip of a BMX biker getting ridiculous air off a ramp or a snowboarder leaping from a helicopter down a mountain are more like a military operation than a party, often done as much for the sake of a sponsor promotion as for the desire to push sports further. It’s joyful work, but it’s work, and it can be lonely when it’s just you, a board, and some cameras.
GKC Fest is all about getting back to the joy and community of action sports. It’s about keeping alive the spirit of underground sports done for the sake of saying you could do it in the face of staggering risk, not because a sponsor asked you to. Founded and run by Olympic snowboarder Trevor Jacob, GKC (Gettin’ Kinda Crazy) is a place for extreme sports athletes to get together and try the stuff they can’t do at work, to worry less about getting the shot and focus more on the sheer joy of being in motion. The fest is filled with the shared exuberance of friends exclaiming, “Did you just see what I saw?”
It’s also completely f*cking insane looking, done with the full knowledge of the risk and the possible consequences. In this first episode of Underbelly, we take a look at GKC Fest — not just for its stunts, but to admire the human bonds that surround it and the courage it takes to do something for the sheer joy of doing it.
Finally, we’d like to take a moment to commemorate Johnny Strange, who appears in the video, and Nitro Circus member Erik Roner. Both left us too soon — Strange in a windsuiting accident, Roner is a skydiving accident — and will forever be remembered by their friends for their love of sports.