Extreme Sport, Identity, and Well-Being: A Case Study and Narrative Approach to Elite Skyrunning

in Case Studies in Sport and Exercise Psychology
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Although extreme-sport athletes’ experiences have been explored in sport psychology, more research is needed to understand the nuanced identity meanings for these athletes in the context of health and well-being. A case-study approach grounded in narrative inquiry was used to explore identity meanings of 1 elite extreme-sport athlete (i.e., skyrunner Kilian Jornet) in relation to well-being. Data gleaned from 4 documentary films and 10 autobiographical book chapters describing the Summits of My Life project were subjected to a thematic narrative analysis. Two intersecting narratives—discovery and relational—threaded the summits project and were used by Jornet to construct an “ecocentric” identity intertwined with nature in fluid ways, depending on 3 relationships related to well-being: the death of climbing partner Stéphane Brosse, team members’ shared values, and her relationship with partner Emelie Forsberg. An expansion of identity, health, and well-being research on extreme-sport athletes beyond simplistic portrayals of them as pathological risk takers and/or motivated by personality traits was gained from these findings.

McGannon and Pomerleau-Fontaine are with the School of Human Kinetics, Laurentian University, Sudbury, ON, Canada. McMahon is with the Faculty of Education, University of Tasmania, Launceston, TAS, Australia.

McGannon (kmcgannon@laurentian.ca) is corresponding author.
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