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Bull riding refers to rodeo sports that involve a rider getting on a large bull and attempting to stay mounted while the animal attempts to buck off the rider. In the American tradition the rider must stay atop the bucking bull for eight seconds. The rider tightly fastens one hand to the bull with a long braided rope. It is a risky sport and has been called "the most dangerous eight seconds in sports." Outside of the USA, bull riding traditions with varying rules and histories also exist in Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, New Zealand and Australia, with the majority of them following similar rules, especially with the Professional Bull Riders organisation. Each bull has a unique name and number used to identify the bull. A sufficient number of bulls, each judged to be of good strength, health, agility, and age, are selected to perform. The rider and bull are matched randomly before the competition, although starting in 2008, some ranked riders are allowed to choose their own bulls from a bull draft for selected rounds in PBR events. A rider mounts a bull and grips a flat braided rope. After he secures a good grip on the rope, the rider nods to signal he is ready. The bucking chute (a small enclosure which opens from the side) is opened and the bull storms out into the arena. The rider must attempt to stay on the bull for at least eight seconds, while only touching the bull with his riding hand. His other hand must remain free for the duration of the ride. The bull bucks, rears, kicks, spins, and twists in an effort to throw the rider off. This continues for a number of seconds until the rider bucks off or dismounts after completing his ride. A loud buzzer or whistle announces the completion of an eight second ride. Throughout the ride, bullfighters, also popularly known as rodeo clowns, stay near the bull in order to aid the rider if necessary. When the ride ends, either intentionally or not, the bullfighters distract the bull to protect the rider from harm. Many competitions have a format that involves multiple rounds, sometimes called "Go-rounds." Generally, events span two to three nights. The rider is given a chance to ride one bull per night. The total points scored by the end of the event are recorded, and after the first or first two go rounds, the top 20 riders are given a chance to ride one more bull. This final round is called the "Short go". After the end of the short go, the rider with the most total points wins the event. There is heated debate between animal rights organizations and bull riding enthusiasts over many aspects of the sport. One source of controversy the flank strap. The flank strap is placed around a bull's flank, just in front of the hind legs, to encourage bucking. Critics say that the flank strap encircles or otherwise binds the genitals of the bull. However, others argue that the flank strap is anatomically impossible to place over the genitals; they also point out that the bull's genes are valuable and that there is a strong economic incentive to keep the animal in good reproductive health. Further, particularly in the case of bulls, an animal that is sick and in pain usually will not want to move at all, will not buck as well, and may even lie down in the chute or ring rather than buck. Critics also claim that "hot shots"—electric cattle prods—are used to injure and torture bulls, while supporters claim that a quick shot simply gets the bull out of the chute quickly and is only a moderate irritation due to the thickness of the animal's hide. Cattle prods have not been used in the Professional Bull Riders (PBR) tour for several years. However, in smaller associations, a cattle prod is still sometimes used to ensure that the animal leaves the chute as soon as the rider nods his head. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]





Parahawking is an activity that combines paragliding with falconry. Birds of prey are trained to fly with paragliders, guiding them to thermals for in-flight rewards and performing aerobatic maneuvers. Parahawking was developed by British falconer Scott Mason in 2001. Mason began a round-the-world trip in Pokhara, Nepal, where many birds of prey – such as the griffon vulture, steppe eagle and black kite – can be found. While taking a tandem paragliding flight with British paraglider Adam Hill, he had the opportunity to see raptors in flight, and realized that he could combine the sports of paragliding and falconry.Citation needed He hopes that others will also be interested in the combined endeavors.Citation needed He has been based in Pokhara ever since, training and flying birds during the dry season between September and March. The team started by training two black kites, but have since added an Egyptian vulture and a Mountain hawk-eagle to the team. Only rescued birds are used – none of the birds have been taken from the wild. Mason and Hill documented their endeavors, with help from colleague Graham Saunders-Griffiths, in a film entitled Parahawking. In addition to being named Best Debut Film at the 2003 Festival International du Film de Vol libre in St-Hilaire, France (held as part of the Coupe Icare), and winning top prize in the 'Air' category at the 5th Hory a Mesto international festival of mountain films in Slovakia, Parahawking was a finalist in the category of 'Best Film on Mountain Sports' at the 2003 Banff Mountain Film Festival, and competed for the title of 'Best Documentary' at the 2004 Cervino International Film Festival. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]



The Audi R18 TDI is a Le Mans Prototype (LMP) racing car constructed by the German car manufacturer Audi AG. It is the successor to the Audi R15 TDI. Like its predecessor, the R18 uses a TDI turbocharged diesel engine but with a reduced capacity of 3.7 litres and in a V6 configuration. For the first time since the 1999 R8C, Audi has chosen a closed cockpit design for their Le Mans prototype. As per the new rules the car features a stabilisation fin on the engine cover and also has a new 6-speed gearbox. The new gearbox is electrically controlled instead of pneumatically controlled, saving weight by eliminating the pneumatic system. Despite the capacity reduction, the 3.7L V6 is claimed to develop more than 397 kilowatts (532 bhp) of power. This is less than the outgoing R15, but the V6 engine's fuel consumption will more than likely be lower than that of the outgoing V10 engine on the R15. The new engine has a single Garrett TR30R VGT turbocharger, as opposed to the twin TR30R configuration of both the Peugeot 908 HDi FAP and the previous Audi R15 TDI. The R18's V6 engine exhausts inwards between the cylinder banks, where the turbocharger is placed. This is called a 'hot side inside' configuration and is opposed to the traditional configuration with each cylinder bank of a V engine exhausting outwards to their respective turbochargers. The Audi R18 is the first ever LMP car to race with full LED headlights, this case being the shape of number 1. Unlike other coupé competitors in its class, the chassis on the R18 is not composed of two halves but rather a single-piece construction for improved rigidity. The R18 has an engine cooling duct above the cockpit roof as well as redesigned rear wheel arches to channel more air to the rear wing. Like the Acura ARX-02a, Audi has chosen to install bigger and wider tyres at the front for increased contact patch. Further changes include a lower rear wing, aluminium splitters and a small duct on the front of the car for improved driver comfort within the cockpit. The 2011 ACO regulations have limited the R18's fuel tank to 65 litres. The rule changes have been tabled over the past few years in an aim to introduce greater efficiency into motorsport. In the 2011 Le Mans 24-hour race, Allan McNish and Mike Rockenfellers' cars were involved in heavy high speed collisions with slower cars. Both drivers could leave their car without serious injuries. However the remaining Audi R18 went on to win the 2011 24 Hours of Le Mans by 13 seconds, continuing the domination of recent Le Mans by Audi. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]





SS United States is an ocean liner built in 1952 for the United States Lines. At 53,329 long tons, she is the largest ocean liner to date built entirely in the United States and still holds the record for the fastest westbound transatlantic crossing. In 1952, on her maiden voyage, United States captured the Blue Riband with the fastest eastbound and westbound transatlantic crossings on record (11 July–15 July, 3 days, 12 hours, 12 minutes). The entry of United States marked the first time since Baltic, a century earlier, that a U.S.-flagged ship held the Blue Riband, surpassing European speed records which had stood for decades. United States lost the eastbound record in 1990, but still holds the westbound record, and remains the fastest ocean liner to cross in either direction. The United States plied the transatlantic with passenger service until 1969; in 1968 she transported a young William Jefferson Clinton to England for his Rhodes Scholarship. The ship outlasted the demise of her original owners. The ship is currently docked in Philadelphia until a decision is made about her fate. Nonetheless, the ship is an ongoing source of fascination and object of affection for a devoted group of fans, which keeps in touch via the Internet and meets annually in Philadelphia. The ship receives occasional press coverage, such as a 2007 feature article in USA Today and there have been various projects through the years to celebrate the ship, such as lighting it on special occasions. A television documentary about the ship entitled SS United States: Lady in Waiting was completed in early February, 2008 and was distributed through Chicago's WTTW TV and American Public Television with the first airings in May, 2008 on PBS stations throughout the USA. The Big U: The Story of the SS United States, another documentary about the ship, is currently in development by Rock Creek Productions. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]



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