Latvian freerunner Pasha Petkuns takes on a pinball machine… on a huge scale. This unique feat (and RedBull commercial) involved building a 16m wall, tilted at 45 degrees to create near-impossible angles, jumps and catches.
Pasha grew up as active kid inspired by Ninja Turtles and Jackie Chan films. “I used to play Ninja Turtles with my friends, doing all the moves,” he recalls. “And every day at four o’clock we’d run back to our houses to watch the show.” But there was one of the ‘heroes in a half-shell’ he particularly identified with: “I was always [hot-headed rebel] Raphael. He was my favourite.”
This grew into a discovery and love for the sport of freerunning and Pasha has been in innovator in the sport. When he was a kid, a bridge was built in his town with a slanted support and he discovered ways of using the extra columns and obstacles to play with gravity as he slid down. This discovery was the basis for his giant pinball machine.
A surprising challenge was finding the right material for the floor – it had to be slippery, but not too slippery. Says Director Mike Christie: ”We had to experiment with the slippiness and grippiness of the floors. So they tried six different floorings. This is the slippiest of the six, and this is the one that Pasha was happiest with.“
If you could truly create a freerunning environment from scratch – what would it look like? That was the question at hand, with one caveat: it had to fit in the pinball machine. For Pasha and collaborators Nico Martell (who’s Sports Director for Red Bull Art of Motion) and freerunning legend Michael ‘Frosti’ Snow, the possibilities were endless – but the technical difficulties were challenging. Nobody had an innate understanding of how it was going to operate. Pasha thought his breakdancing experience might help – but in the end, he had to invent a whole new style of movement. “I had a bunch of bruises because I was trying to jump. At the beginning I was really grabbing a hold of the features just to slow down!”