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March 10, 2012

Extreme Sports Special #3: Pip Andersen – Freerunning

The third and final ‘Extreme Sports Special’ before our triple YouTube video launch! So far this week I’ve interviewed BMX rider James Ivett and skateboarder Jed Cullen, but now it’s time for Pip Andersen; one of the UK’s Freerunning pioneers. All three of these danger-men feature in three Lumia 900 Nokia Connects videos coming to us on Monday from the streets of Barcelona.

Pip Andersen has been Freerunning professionally for over five years and represented Britain in the first ever Barclaycard World Freerunning Championships. He is a self-confessed ‘kinesthetic learner’ who is more about getting up and doing rather than sitting around and listening. Pip said discovering Freerunning was like someone turning the light on in his life. He was first inspired by the documentary Jump Britain to take up the discipline and he is a member of the WFPF (World Freerunning Parkour Federation).

Hi Pip, a.k.a Piptrix, welcome to Nokia Connects!

Now, my mum doesn’t have a clue what Freerunning or Parkour is! So I wondered how you would describe both of these to someone who has never heard of them before?

There are two different disciplines, Parkour and Freerunning. Parkour is about getting from A to B as quickly and efficiently as possible, whereas Freerunning is less about travelling between two points and more about technique, so flips and jumps etc. Both are performed out on the street, but Freerunning is more about the training methods to get good at Parkour. I think that Freerunning is essentially learning about everything your body can do and expressing yourself, whereas Parkour is putting all of those things you’ve learnt into practice. Both of them started as a way of escaping and a means of getting away from people to express yourself as an individual, once you’ve learned how to get over walls as quickly as possible doing Freerunning that’s where Parkour comes into practice.

Which is your favourite city in the world to perform Freerunning in and why? Or don’t you think cities differ that much?

The cities definitely change a lot when you take architecture into consideration, some cities are built on hills others are completely flat, for example, so you have to really change your game wherever you are in the world. London is the place I’ve been the most, it has a huge array of different Freerunning spots, whether that’s a council estate or Oxford Street. I think that’s why England latched onto free running so much when the sport kicked off because it was so easy for people to find walls and go out to train, whereas the rest of the world may have struggled a little to pick it up so quickly.


Where would you say was the birthplace of Freerunning?

The French founded it and brought free running to the world, but really they haven’t led the race at all in terms of who is representing Parkour and Freerunning on the global scene. About five or six years ago in the UK the amount of Freerunners exploded and we probably still have the most Freerunners around. The US for some reason didn’t really latch onto it until the first documentaries in the UK 6/7 years ago – Jump Britain and Jump London made the sports massive and the US got behind it a few years later. It depends what people have to train with, Freerunning is based on architecture and in the US everything is in a straight line and looks very similar – with a lot of exceptions of course.

Have you injured yourself badly performing Freerunning before?

I’m pretty injury free but I don’t think there will ever be an injury bad enough to put me off free running and quit – I’ve fractured six bones in my hand and wrist – but I was saving myself, so the best outcome of the bail was a few broken bones in my hand!

If you were told that Freerunning was illegal and you could never perform it again which other extreme sport would you take up?

Even if it was illegal I would still be doing it! I used to play Basketball and skateboard, so I would probably do one of those. I would also get more into break dancing – the flips I perform in Freerunning really help. There is no way I would go into gymnastics.

What is a Freerunning move I could try out safely in my own home or near where I live?

I would recommend kids parks, it’s about starting low-level instead of jumping across roof tops like you see on TV, that is definitely not the best way to start! You can learn the break fall just about anywhere, which is the roll you transition into once you have jumped from a particular height. You could do that from your sofa but be careful not to hit your head on the coffee table!

What was your favourite part of the week filming in Barcelona with Nokia?

My favourite part of Barcelona was walking around Mobile World Congress and seeing all the latest tech and talking to all of the bloggers that were in attendance. It was cool meeting people I would never have met hanging around my local skatepark! From a filming point of view, it was great doing some tricks with the other two guys, they were good fun and we had a laugh in-between shoots.


See more from Pip Andersen on Monday here on Nokia Connects.