The 20 Most Gnarly Wipeouts in Sports History

Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistMarch 22, 2011

The 20 Most Gnarly Wipeouts in Sports History

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    Karen Wilson/Getty Images

    We watch sports to be amazed by feats of athletic prowess, to see poetry in motion, to be rendered speechless by acts of contortion and strength that the average person could never duplicate.

    We also watch for the wipeouts.

    Be honest, when somebody eats it, you may look away, cringe or join your friends in a collective "OHHH, that HAD to hurt!" while you squirm in your seat. And then you find the clip on YouTube, watch it 20 times, and post the video on Facebook which prompts at least 10 people to "Like" or comment on the video.

    Wipeouts are universally entertaining and evoke curiosity in people like few other things. I mean, Ninja Warrior rocks, but it's not just because of the athleticism of the successful athletes, or the dramatic announcing.

    The wipeouts are incredible!

    So in that spirit, I've gathered 20 of the gnarliest wipeouts from sports. Some will make you laugh, others will make you wince, and a few will make you wonder how greater injuries weren't sustained.

    But one thing is for certain -- you won't be able to look away.

20. Go-Cart Fail

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    We start with the humorous. If this was Mario Kart, a star here would have blown this track up!

    As it were, what started as a go-cart race quickly turned to an unexpected round of bumper cars.

    Initially, when I saw this, I thought it was your average Tuesday on the New Jersey Turnpike.

19. 2007 Tour De France Traffic Jam

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    We continue with the pile-up theme, here at the 2007 Tour de France.

    Clearly, the French—with "insider information" from Floyd Landis—blamed this crash on Lance Armstrong's steroid use, despite the fact that Armstrong was retired.

    Oh, who am I kidding? Nobody in this country cares about cycling.

18. Nick Corrales Dunks Himself

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    This is not your typical timeout entertainment. Watch as Nick Corrales of the Phoenix Suns Gorilla Verve Sol Patrol pretends that he is a basketball.

    I recommend skipping to the 1:40 mark on the video.

    The dunk would have been impressive, except I'm fairly certain Blake Griffin could have done it without a trampoline.

    Plus, it was offensive goaltending.

17. Red Bull Flutag

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    Remember when your mother asked, "If all of your friends jumped off of a bridge, would you do it?"

    And you rolled your eyes at the metaphor and mumbled, "No mom, of course not."

    These guys thought it sounded like a great idea.

    My personal favorite is number four at the 0:49 mark. Imagine being the guys that flipped over the Flutag!

    And how great is it that all of the other guys jump in after, like little lemmings?

16. Michael Jackson, the Soap Box Racer

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    One Red Bull event deserves another, this time of the Soap Box variety.

    This is near and dear to my heart, since I witnessed this live. It was rainy, cold and miserable October day in Philadelphia, but nobody cared.

    Mostly because the majority of the crowd was drunk by about 10:00 that morning.

    But the highlight, by far, was this particular soap box. It's hard to tell here, but the gentleman on the back was dressed as Michael Jackson. They must have hit that hay bale going close to 30 miles per hour.

    It was epic.

15. Michel Bourez Face Plant

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    This is why I prefer boogie boarding.

    Or, you know, avoiding the water altogether and just sleeping on the beach.

14. Wakeboarder Has Separation Anxiety

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    This clip comes from the 2005 World Wakeboarding Championships in Hungary.

    Dude, let go of the rope!

13. Shaun White Says Hello to the Halfpipe

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    The audio is a bit ahead of the video here, but White's forehead lines up directly with the lip of the pipe.

    Does anyone have any Excedrin?

    White not only shook off this spill from his practice run, he won the SuperPipe event!

    Put that in your pipe and...never mind.

12. Raimana Van Bastolaer Takes a Bath

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    The Tahitian surfing legend met his match at the infamous Teahupoo break in Tahiti, French Polynesia.

    Every time I watch him engulfed by the water, I am convinced that the wave resembles what the hand of God must look like.

    Van Bastolaer made the news last year, when he almost lost his head to a ski jet.

    Again, this is why I boogie board.

11. Todd Brooker Tumbles Down the Hill

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    Alexis Boichard/Agence Zoom/Getty Images

    This video is insane.

    Brooker's now-iconic crash at the 1987 World Cup in Kitzbühel, Austria ended his career.

    He most recently covered alpine skiing for NBC during the 2010 Olympics.

10. Vince Byron Face Plants on the Pipe

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    And you thought belly flops were painful?

    Though Byron gave the crowd quite a scare at the 2010 Summer X-Games, remaining unconscious for a few minutes, the 20-year-old Australian somehow managed to get up and walk away under his own power.

    These guys are cut from a different mold.

9. Inexplicably, Mike Lee Tries to Ride a Bull

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    Honestly, who thought it would be a good idea to start riding bulls? How many marbles have to be missing to do this?

    Here are a few other ideas that make absolutely no sense whatsoever:

    - Playing basketball with a live beehive

    - Seeing who can stay between a mama bear and her cubs the longest

    - Stepping into a boxing ring with Mike Tyson

8. Hermann Maier, Human Flier

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    Watch as Hermann Maier attempts flight during the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano. A few days later, he won gold in the giant slalom and Super-G events.

    To review, Maier suffered a terrible crash that looked like it might end his career. Undaunted, he regrouped and instantly emerged victorious.

    In 2011, we have a word for that: WINNING!

    (Top that, Charlie.)

7. Somehow Daron Rahlves Was Fine

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    It is unbelievable that Rahlves wasn't badly injured after his twisting and turning in the air, heading toward destruction. It was a truly spectacular crash, and a wonder he walked away from it.

6. Acrobatic Cars

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    Good air, excellent rotation, impressive balance on the landing.

    Perfect 10's for each.

    Wait, we're judging Olympic gymnastics right now, correct?

5. Mike Harmon's Car Disappears

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    If I were Mike Harmon, I would have spent hundreds of dollars on lottery tickets after this Bristol crash in 2002. Though you can't get any luckier than he did, can you?

    Just imagine crashing into the wall, losing half of your car, and watching as another car whizzes by your ear at close to 200 miles per hour.

    I would have needed a new racing suit.

4. Danny Way Tries to Bail

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    This crash, from the 2008 Summer X Games, left Way with two broken vertebrae in his back.

    Every time I look down the ramp at the beginning of the video, I am amazed these guys even try this.

3. Paris Rosen's Brutal Crash

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    This crash, from the 2010 Summer X Games, left Rosen with a a bruised lung, a concussion, a mild liver laceration and injuries to his hip and rib cartilage.

    You could tell almost immediately that he was in trouble on this jump. He is lucky he wasn't hurt worse.

2. (tie) Carl Edwards Flies into the Fence

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    Miraculously, Edwards wasn't severely injured after this 2009 crash at Talledega. Several fans were injured, though none of the injuries were more serious than slight fractures.

    If you didn't understand the, "That is 1987 all over again" reference, proceed to the next slide.

2. (tie) 1987 Bobby Allison

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    Deja vu?

    Somehow, Bobby Allison walked away from this crash. And he even told ESPN, after Edwards' crash, that his was worse.

    "It was pretty spectacular, but it was nothing compared to what I did," Allison said. "My wreck was way bigger, way more guard rail, way more cars involved."

    I'll bet Allison has several dogs that dwarf any dogs Edwards may have.

    We'll call it a tie between the two.

1. Jake Brown Makes Me Wince

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    "That was the heaviest slam I've ever seen."

    "His shoes popped off!"

    Amazingly, Brown walked away from this scene after laying unconcious for several minutes. He was not unscathed, however. Along with a broken arm, Brown outlined his various injuries in a 2007 MTV interview.

    "This knee is just starting to hurt, so I probably have to get that checked out," he said, pointing to his right leg. "I've got a fractured wrist here; they did surgery. This [other] one's sprained. I had a contusion to my lung and a bruised liver, a fractured vertebrae, and just crazy whiplash to my neck and back and a mild concussion."

    I can't imagine what was going through his head as he fell some 50 feet. And I hope to never find out.

    But Brown was the first skater ever to land a 720-degree spin on a Mega Ramp. So I guess it wasn't all bad for him...