World Champion climber Sasha DiGiulian became the first person to scale Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey, in a daring feat that helped kick off the first home game of the season for the New York Red Bulls.
Prior to the clash between the Red Bulls and the Colorado Rapids, 21-year-old Columbia University student DiGiulian climbed her way into the arena rafters 100+ feet above the field.
Once at the edge of the stadium roof, DiGiulian unveiled the official 2013 MLS Supporters’ Shield Banner -- acknowledging the team’s honor of last year's best regular season record -- for the fans below before rappelling down to the field where she delivered the official match ball to the players.
[Watch Sasha climb to the top of Red Bull Arena in the video below]
We caught up with Sasha to learn more...
Red Bull Adventure: How did this opportunity arise?
Sasha DiGiulian: I was at a Red Bulls soccer game sitting next to a friend when we started wondering what I could do in the stadium… We looked up at the scaffolding and came up with this idea of a custom rig on the roof’s support beams that goes out to the jumbrotron and me climbing out on the scaffolding to retrieve the game ball and then reveal the flag for the fan club.
This climb ties into my unique history... parlayed with this image of me as a six-year-old climbing the rafters in an ice hockey rink
Did you have any friends or family in the crowd?
My family came up for the game, as well as a lot of my friends from Columbia University, and a few climbing friends – I had a full crew!
This climb actually ties into my unique history. Growing up, my big brother was a hockey player. I would always take off during the game and be climbing the rafters. So the running joke became: “Where’s Sasha? Oh, look up!” It kind of parlayed with this image of me as a six-year-old climbing the rafters in an ice hockey rink.
So this project takes your first climbing experiences to a whole new level.
Yes, and making an actual performance out of it was pretty neat. I mean, it wasn’t exactly authentic climbing by any means, but I was full-on lead climbing on a 150-foot metal roof. It was a cool experience and fun to be really creative about what we could put on and it sparked interest for future events of what we can do with this unique skill set.
There actually weren’t any challenges to the route... But it was 90 degrees over-hung, so you’re upside down for eleven minutes
What were the specific challenges of the route?
There actually weren’t any challenges to the route. It was a pretty easy way out. The handholds -- compared to what we need to climb on actual cliff faces -- were much bigger. But it was 90 degrees over-hung, so you’re upside down for eleven minutes.
How long did you have to complete the climb?
We had an eleven-minute allotted time with Madison Square Garden. I climbed out and then waited to be introduced -- I actually went a little too fast for the plan. So I started hanging out at the top waiting, but that wasn’t really a problem because I had a really cool view.
What were the reactions of the soccer fans?
It went over very well! It’s in a stadium unlike the stadium I would [normally] be performing in. [Was I] climbing in front of people who are like, "What the hell are you doing?" Maybe. Some were just completely astonished about what was happening above them.
I think it was seen as something unique and super creative; a cherry on top of a cool soccer game. I mean, an opening game with someone climbing up the stadium -- that’s never been done before!