The World’s Most Extreme Sports

The World’s Most Extreme Sports

When you think of extreme sports, what comes to mind? Skateboarding? Paragliding? Well, it turns out that there are many more that can lead to extreme injuries, and we’ve looked into them all.

Based on how likely you are to pick up a gnarly knock doing a totally radical sport, dude, this study reveals the most extreme sports in the world.

Skateboarding, mountain biking and jet skiing some of the world’s most popular extreme sports

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Extreme sports are enormously popular all over the globe, with millions of people searching for them every month. This study looked at which sports give different countries their biggest adrenaline rushes, with some proving just as thrilling no matter where you live.

The States Love To Skate

Rank Sport Ave. Monthly SV
1 Skateboarding 1,512,100
2 Mountain Biking 835,100
3 Ice Skating 492,000
4 Jet Skiing 483,100
5 Longboarding 458,100
6 Skiing 442,000
7 Snowboarding 408,500
8 Parkour 371,600
9 Scootering 368,000
10 Skydiving 311,000

Skateboarding is the most popular extreme sport in the USA, with 1.5 million monthly searches seeing people go crazy for kickflips, wallrides, and ollies. Home to the world-famous Tony Hawk, the USA leads the way for skateboarding superfans, with the sport being just as accessible for kids in parks as it is for daredevils on halfpipes.

Mountain biking is the second most popular extreme sport in the States. The off-road activity attracts over 835,000 monthly searches, appealing to people who fancy a quick cycle around a field as well as those who crave downhill pursuits across incredible terrains.

In third place is a sport that’s much less accessible without the right arena. Ice skating covers everything from intricate dancing through to high octane sprinting, and it’s searched for 492,000 times a month. Anyone who watched the film ‘I, Tonya’ will know just how extreme the sport can be.

The UK Prefers Two Wheels To Four

Rank Sport Ave. Monthly SV
1 Mountain Biking 1,832,900
2 Skateboarding 550,880
3 Scootering 368,000
4 BMX 301,110
5 Jet Skiing 136,300
6 Canoeing 115,400
7 Curling 90,550
8 Skiing 75,300
9 Parkour 74,880
10 Ice Skating 64,300

In the United Kingdom, mountain biking comes out first in popular extreme sports. Cyclists there have plenty of greenery and countryside to explore, something that surely helps attract the 1.8 million monthly searches.

Skateboarding, which is now a Summer Olympics sport, comes in second with 550,000 monthly searches, proving less than half as popular as its two-wheeled rival.

Scootering completes the top three with 368,000 searches per month. What was once a children’s hobby is now a highly competitive sport, with athletes performing death-defying twists and turns at heights two wheels rarely travel.

Australia’s Most Popular Extreme Sports

Rank Sport Ave. Monthly SV
1 Mountain Biking 673,480
2 Jet Skiing 301,480
3 Skateboarding 201,880
4 Surfing 201,140
5 BMX 201,110
6 Scootering 110,000
7 Longboarding 74,140
8 Standup Paddleboarding 74,010
9 Canoeing 49,980
10 Ice Skating 47,100

In Australia (673,000 searches per month) and New Zealand (27,000 searches per month), mountain biking leads the way. The two countries are famed for their outdoor pursuits, with an abundance of open land and luscious countryside ready for thrill-seekers to enjoy.

New Zealand’s Most Popular Extreme Sports

Rank Sport Ave. Monthly SV
1 Mountain Biking 27,170
2 Skateboarding 18,170
3 Surfing 8,130
4 BMX 8,110
5 Ice Skating 7,080
6 Skiing 6,670
7 Jet Skiing 6,650
8 Snowboarding 6,620
9 Drifting 6,610
10 Longboarding 5,420

Skateboarding also proves popular in both countries, coming in second place in New Zealand (18,000 searches per month) and third in Australia (201,000 searches per month), while watersports complete both nations’ top threes.

Australians love a bit of jet skiing, searching for it 301,000 times a month, while in New Zealand it’s surfing that gets people going. Adrenaline junkies search for it 8,130 times a month, taking to the huge waves that surround their stunning coast.

Cycling leads to more injuries than any other sport in New Zealand

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For many people, cycling is just a way of getting from A to B. But it might be a more extreme way than you think. In New Zealand, more people get injured on a bike than during any other activity, with things like cuts, punctured organs, and even stings all being common calamities. Based on the country’s extensive injury data, we can see that men run a 12.3% risk of getting injured while cycling, with women not far behind at 8.9%.

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55.9% of all cycling injuries reported involve lacerations, punctured organs, or stings - presumably from the things they’ve crashed into!

The second most likely sports injury to be reported is concussion caused in rugby union. The high-impact sport is well known for its bone-crunching tackles, and 45.7% of all its recorded injuries are those involving damage to the brain.

In fact, rugby union accounts for four out of the top five most reported injuries in New Zealand. Fractures, broken bones, dislocations, and missing teeth are just some of the risks involved with the sport.

But it’s not just the extreme sports leading to extreme injuries in the country. Soft tissue injuries caused by jogging are the cause of 7% of reported injuries, while 3.1% of injuries are fractures caused in the gym. Ouch.

Men suffer 74% of all Canadian head injuries

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Head injuries can be one of the most serious consequences of extreme sports, potentially leading to fractured skulls, concussions, or even minor strokes. In Canada, out of the 1,682 head injuries reported last year, 74% were males.

The majority of those injuries were sustained during cycling accidents, with 548 incidents leading to head damage.

However, of all biking injuries, the head only makes up 13.98%. It’s a different sort of vehicle that leads to a higher risk of headaches than anything else in Canada, with the crown going to all-terrain vehicles with 14.25%.

All-terrain vehicles, or quad bikes as they’re more often known, are designed to travel at high speeds across all kinds of land, but that doesn’t come without challenges. Going over large rocks or hitting surprise bumps can easily throw even the most experienced rider from their vehicle, leading to plenty of all-terrain pain.

Horse riding headaches for 64% of female Canadian riders

While women suffer much fewer head injuries than men, when it comes to horse riding they’re almost twice as likely. 36% of male horse-riding injuries affect the head, compared to 64% for women.

There’s a long way to fall from the back of a horse, running the risk of injuries to both rider and the animal unless you’re careful.

Rugby is New Zealand’s biggest cause of head injuries

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In New Zealand, it’s rugby union that leads to more head injuries than any other sport. 45.7% of all injuries reported from the sport involve the head, beating off painful competition from cycling (15.4%), soccer (15.3%), and basketball (5.6%).

New Zealand is one of the most successful rugby-playing nations in the world and is home to stars such as Dan Carter, Sam Whitelock, and the late, great Jonah Lomu.

Head injuries might be a risk, but that doesn’t stop the fans from loving it.

Extreme sports with extreme risks

While it isn’t always true that the more extreme the sport, the more extreme the injury - jogging, anyone? - they certainly play their part.

Unless you’re well trained, it’s always safer to stick to sports that don’t involve doing huge flips in the sky or riding on wild animals.

Methodology

To determine the most popular extreme sports in New Zealand, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the United States, the study used a list of the top 100 extreme sports. Then, the team used SEMRush to find the search volume (May 2021) of these sports in each nation. They combined the search term (sport) with “near me” to see which locations were looking for which extreme sports.

The injury data is the most recent available data from New Zealand’s Accident Compensation Corporation. Injury data in Canada is the most recent available data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information.

The number of injuries and type of injuries for each sport and the category of injury was recorded, these figures were then turned into percent, by looking at the number of each injury and dividing it by the total number of injuries. This gave us the likelihood of each injury for each sport. The popularity figures were then used to calculate the odds of getting each injury by gender. The calculation was made by multiplying the chance of getting each injury by the popularity of the sport for each gender.

The odds calculations are based on the percent change of the injury in a specified sport, as well as the popularity of the sport among men and women.

For example, 55.9% of cycling injuries are a laceration, whilst 22% of men cycle, therefore, if you get injured whilst cycling and you are a man, (55.9x22) there is a 12.3% chance it will be a laceration. Whilst if you get injured but are a woman (where popularity is 16%) there is an 8.9% chance of it being a laceration.


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