How do you do a back flip in a wheelchair?

Extreme Sports Image Gallery Aaron Fotheringham performs a back flip in his wheelchair. See more pictures of extreme sports.
Photo courtesy Aaron Fotheringham

They say that necessity is the mother of invention. This is true in the case of skateboarding and the extreme sports that followed. When waves were nonexistent in Southern California in the 1970s, surfers took to the streets on skateboards. Skating in Los Angeles parking lots worked for a while, but it became clear that verticality was key to the evolving sport. Empty swimming pools met this need, and they soon gave way to half pipes and the invention of the skate park. The park at Carlsbad, Calif., credited as being the world's first, opened for business in 1976, and the world of extreme sports hasn't been the same since. Skate pipes got taller, ramps became steeper and skaters soon found themselves leaving the "rim" of the pipe and catching air. Things only went up from there.

At the same time, motocross and BMX were coming into their own. Suddenly, kids who weren't interested in baseball or football could choose from a new breed of sport. Competitions and corporate sponsors legitimized the sports of skateboarding and inline skating, along with BMX and motocross. Then, the creation of the X Games brought it all together in a tidy and highly marketable package.

Extreme athletes are known for creating new tricks that push the limits of gravity. That spirit of innovation has resulted in a continuous evolution of these relatively young sports. Such is the case with extreme athlete Aaron "Wheelz" Fotheringham. Seventeen-year-old Aaron has invented an entirely new sport that blends the worlds of BMX and skateboarding with a unique twist. He calls it "hardcore sitting," an admittedly odd name for an extreme sport. But when you consider that Aaron has spina bifida and has been in a wheelchair since he was 8 years old, it all makes sense.