I have been lucky enough, over the course of a few years, to write a whole heap of profiles for Red Bull’s extreme athletes, ranging from skateboarding legends Shane Azar and Corbin Harris to surfing champs Mick Fanning and Sally Fitzgibbons, from motoX nutter Robbie Maddison to hang glider Jonny Durand.
Being about as extreme as a pedestrian crossing, I knew absolutely nothing about these sports coming into each job. My brief was to write a profile with broad appeal, something that anyone could understand, whether they knew the sport or not. First, I did my homework, but I realised that to quickly gain an insight into the worlds I was writing about, I needed to be upfront with the athletes – “Please no jargon or in-speak,” I’d plead. “Talk to me as if you were explaining your life to your slightly dotty aunty.” Each of the athletes responded well to this honesty; I’ll never forget Craig Anderson patiently describing the difference between SuperX and MotoX!
I produced two profiles for each of the 12 athletes; a 1000-word main profile and a 300-word teaser. The words were used in media packs, as backgrounders and on the Red Bull Australia website.