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The problem with professional skiers is that they make everything they do look effortless, especially in videos posted to social media. You’ve probably seen the social media clips of freeskier Jesper Tjäder grinding a 525-foot rail to set a new Guinness World Record at the end of May. But what you don’t understand from those 20-second clips is just how ridiculous this feat is, even for an Olympic bronze medalist in slopestyle like Tjäder.
The average rail is about 8 feet long, and if you’ve ever tried sliding one of these end-to-end, you know that’s already plenty difficult. Of course, the pros grind rails much longer than that. The previous Guinness World Record for the longest rail grind was 424 feet, set by American freeskiing legend Tom Wallisch in 2016 at his home hill of Seven Springs, Pa.
“When Tom Wallisch broke the record it looked insane. So I thought, I have to try that too,” Tjäder told Red Bull.
Six years later, Tjäder set out to break that record by more than 82 feet on a rail set up on the slopes of Åre, Sweden. Constructing a sturdy rail as long as a 50-story building is high is a remarkable feat of engineering in and of itself. According to Red Bull, who helped produce the project, sliding a rail that long could potentially melt the base of skis due to the amount of friction involved. Tjäder, who estimated it might take him up to 525 tries to nail the rail grind, brought a backup pair of skis just in case it came to that.
But it never did. It “only” took Tjäder 127 attempts over the course of three days to successfully slide the 507-foot rail from end to end and claim a new Guinness World Record.
“I’ve done a lot of tricks on rails before, but never near such a long rail as this,” Tjäder said. “Shoutout to Tom Wallisch for pushing skiing. Without him, we wouldn’t be out here sliding a 160-meter rail.”