Norwegian Base-jumper Hans Lange describes moment of impact

By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated September 11, 2008 09:30 AM

Live TV got even livelier Thursday morning, when extreme sportsman Hans Lange – the Norwegian base-jumper whose Aug. 23 miraculous landing, captured on videotape, has become an Internet sensation – failed to curb his tongue while describing his fall on the Today show.

Recalling the moment he realized that he had failed to open his chute in time to avoid possibly being splattered on rocks, though he did end up breaking his right leg, Lange told interviewer Matt Lauer that his reaction was “Holy s—!” – prompting the Today host to gasp and then bury his face in his clipboard.

Yet the segment continued. Lauer had pointed out that the thrill-seeker had already experienced 400 base-jumps and 1,800 sky-jumps before attempting the one that made him famous, thanks to Lange’s turning the camera (which had been attached to his helmet) on himself to capture the moment when he landed.

“There was no doubt my leg was broken,” said Lange, “but there was no doubt I was okay elsewhere.”

Lange also modeled his base-jump suit, which is outfitted with wings to help him soar at speeds between 130 and 140 m.p.h. (Lange estimated that by the time he was headed for the rocks, he had slowed his fall to about 15 m.p.h.)

“You can make a pretty sharp curve,” demonstrated Lange, whose right leg is now filled with a titanium rod. Lauer likened the sensation of base-jumping to soaring like a flying squirrel.

And Lange said he would return to the sport.

Whether he’ll ever return to Today is another matter. After Lange’s departure, Lauer apologized for his guest’s outburst and said that viewers in the Midwest and West Coast (who are offered a tape-delayed broadcast of the NBC morning show) wouldn’t be hearing it.