Freerunning In The Ice City

Most of us have trouble keeping out feet when it gets frosty out there let alone anything that requires quick and sudden movement, however one person who takes it all in his stride quite literally is famous freerunner Jason Paul who recently took on the spectacular Ice City in China.

For the first time in its 33-year history, the world’s largest ice city was the playground for one of the planet’s leading freerunners, as Jason Paul travelled to the North of China in to reinterpret his sport in a completely new way. The 23-year-old German from Frankfurt brought fascinating images: freerunning on ice–Freezerunning!

Temperatures in the Chinese megacity of Harbin constantly fall below minus 25 degrees Celsius in wintertime, but do the residents let it get them down?  No chance, in fact the capital of the Heilongjiang province celebrates the frost: Since 1985, Harbin has held the annual ‘International Ice & Snow Sculpture Festival’.

Harbin’s fairytale ice world covers an area as big as 12 football fields. When temperatures fall below zero in the end of November, 10,000 workers and ice sculptors start to build gigantic towers, impressive palaces, huge bridges and high cathedrals made of ice blocks. They gather the ice bricks from the frozen Songhua river which separates the city in a southern and a northern half.

Having seen images of Harbin on the internet Paul thought it would be the ideal place to freerun……but the unfamiliarly icy terrain and the freezing cold brought several challenges for Jason. Is it even possible to freerun on glassy ground at minus 30 degrees Celsius?  Turns out the answer is very much yes, although the extremely cold temperatures required an extensive warm-up, and every freerun on the icy structures demanded full concentration and absolute precision.  Each move had to be perfect, as the hard and slippery ice left no room for mistakes as there was nothing to hold on to if a trick went wrong.

But being one of the best freerunners in the world, Jason Paul wanted more than just showing off his most spectacular manoeuvres.  He didn’t just want to use the Ice City as the backdrop for outstanding images - the idea was to take freerunning to the next level, and do things that are only possible on ice, and I think it’s safe to say he accomplished this.

Take a look at the video below, and for more about Jason Paul and freerunning click here for his Red Bull page.