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Nitro Circus documentary explores extreme risks of viral motorcycle triple backflip

(Nitro Circus/YouTube)


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SALT LAKE CITY — Nitro Circus produced a documentary showcasing the skill, efforts and dangers behind what has been hailed the "biggest jump in action sports history."

The triple backflip, completed by Australian Josh Sheehan, was the first of its kind. It's particularly spectacular considering there are only four people who have ever landed a double backflip, according to Nitro Circus, and Sheehan is the only one who performs it regularly.

A special 37-foot ramp was built for the triple backflip, set at an 85-degree angle, which helped Sheehan take off at 50 mph and fly 90 feet into the air.

"Josh definitely put everything on the line here," said extreme sports superstar and Nitro Circus pioneer Travis Pastrana. "In Nitro Circus, it's all about risk and reward, and a triple backflip maxes out on both. It requires total commitment in addition to an incredible amount of courage, strength and skill. To see Josh crush it was amazing."

Sheehan's triple backflip got top billing and overall praise earlier this year, including over 11 million views on YouTube.

"After all of the stress and apprehension, it was such a relief to finally land the triple," Sheehan said. "In the moment I was just so focused. There was so much adrenaline it felt like time slowed down. It was only days later that the full extent of what happened set in."

While the stunt is beyond impressive, and while it's obvious that it's inherently dangerous, only a handful of people behind the scenes truly understood the risks involved. To remedy that, Nitro Circus made a 90-minute documentary called "Road to the Unthinkable." It not only documents the Sheehan's triple backflip, as seen in the film's intense teaser trailer, but it puts it in the context of "fifteen years of progression in the always-evolving sport of freestyle motocross."

This is the second feature in a multi-year deal with NBC sports Nitro Circus — a company founded in a Utah garage in 2003. The partnership already aired another documentary, "Revolutionary Day," about the record-breaking quadruple backflip on a BMX bike, and it will air an eight-part reality series, "Nitro Circus: Crazy Train," that debuts on Oct. 15 on NBCSN.

"Road to the Unthinkable" airs Saturday, Sept. 12 at 8:30 pm PDT (after NASCAR) on NBCSN.

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Martha Ostergar

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