Stanford Student Walks a Fine Line


Photo by Avery Luke.

Though most college students stay grounded through competitive sports or socializing amidst intense studying, for Stanford student Lucas Güniat, most of his free time is spent approximately 50 cm off of the ground. As a new student from Switzerland, Lucas has been practicing slacklining for the past four years and has brought his passion for the sport with him to the Bay Area.

Similar to tightrope walking, slacklining is a sport in that consists of balancing on a tight, flat line that is anchored about 2 feet in the air. Whereas tightrope walking is typically practiced on a steel cable, slacklining is considered to be more dynamic because the line made of woven fabric stretches with each movement. On a typical day, Lucas can be spotted on his slackline, suspended between a pair of Stanford University’s trademark redwoods. Over the past five months Lucas has spent studying in California, he has only encountered one other practicing slackliner at Stanford.

“In Europe, it’s pretty common,” Lucas said. “People do it a lot- most of all in Switzerland. We have a festival where everyone gathers in the park and we install a bunch of slacklines and do it throughout one week. It’s about sharing ideas, sharing techniques.”

Lucas is no stranger to collaborating with others who share similar drive. Though he has only been in California a short time, he emphasizes his already strong appreciation for the atmosphere that Stanford cultivates and the interesting people it attracts.

“Being a student at Stanford- it’s pretty amazing. People here are amazing, “Lucas said. “It’s like a place where good, talented people gather together. It’s a bit stressful sometimes… you have this stress of always bringing new, innovative and quality content”.

For Lucas, slacklining has been more than just a hobby- it’s been a critical stress reliever in a culture where perfection is expected. This is why he recommends the sport to students in particular, emphasizing the importance of perseverance.

“You have a bit of this frustration feeling in the beginning,” Lucas said. “You try again- two times, three times, and when you finally manage to get on the rope it’s just an intense feeling. You have this feeling when you’re on top where the only thing you want is to get back onto the ground… But then, as soon as you feel that something is going on between the rope and you, you start to change your mindset.”

Lucas explained that much of the way he perceives the world and collaborates with others has come from his unique passion for slacklining.

“You don’t really have just one way of doing it,” Lucas said. “This is why I find slacklining is a good metaphor [for] life. Every person has a different way of getting on it and figuring it out.”