Free-running is all about – you guessed it – running freely. And for one woman who’s the world’s best at her discipline, it’s also about challenging the male elite: Luci Romberg.
Luci Romberg can’t remember her first stunt any more. But her mum’s version goes something like this: Li’l’ Luci decides to climb her grandmother’s garden fence. A neighbour sees the three-year-old way too far up the gate and rushes outside. “Do you need a hand, little girl?” Luci, hanging onto the wooden slats, turns her head to the side and answers: “No, I’m tough!”
Twenty-six years down the line, Lucia Royce Romberg’s life is still all about overcoming obstacles. Free-running is a sport in which our everyday surroundings become an obstacle course. And LA’s Luci is the female poster child of urban movement aesthetes.
A free-runner sees the cityscape as a huge playground to be got around with acrobatics and creativity (as opposed to the qualities of efficiency and speed cherished by the related discipline of parkour). For a free-runner, the walls of houses are a springboard for backwards somersaults, while stair-rails become handstand testing areas. “Everyone develops their own style,” says Romberg, who only took up the sport two years ago. “There are no rules. It took me a while to get used to this mentality.”
Her athletic physique and fluid movement hint at the life story hiding behind the light brown locks of this shooting star. Romberg grew up on a farm in Colorado, the daughter of a semi-professional tennis player.
As a child she would scamper around the fields with the goats, loved fire-alarm exercises “because we could climb up onto the roof”, and became hooked on a number of sports. When she was 12, her parents forced her to concentrate on just three. Romberg chose gymnastics, football and diving.
At Texas Woman’s University, she honed her sporting skills. Romberg was captain of the women’s football team and was national gymnastics champion in her Senior Year. After graduating (with a Bachelor Cum Laude in kinesiology), she got in her car and drove to Los Angeles to make a(nother) dream come true: the girl from Aurora, Colorado wanted to become a Hollywood stuntwoman. “I had no idea what I was letting myself in for,” she says. “But the job somehow suited my ideas.”
The dream factory’s obstacles were to prove frustrating, however. “If you don’t have a reputation, nobody will hire you. The most difficult part about stunts is figuring out the business and how to go about training, meeting people, and getting hired. It’s a constant battle, plus I’m pretty shy when I meet people for the first time.”
Read the full article in this month’s Red Bulletin.