A Bird, a Plane … Men Jumping Off the ICA?

Cliff divingSteven LoBue dives from the ICA during a 2011 training session. (Photo courtesy of Red Bull)

U.S. diver Kent de Mond makes a pretty good case for why the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series should be on your weekend agenda.

“People should come out any time you get to see some guys jumping off buildings,” he says.

He has a point. Watching the flips, twists, and turns of divers as they careen from the top of the Institute of Contemporary Art is a unique, breathtaking experience. This is only the second year that the Cliff Diving World Series will make a stop in Boston, but, considering last year’s crowd of 25,000, Saturday’s event promises to attract plenty of attention.

The roster of high divers, which includes three Americans (Steven LoBue, Kent de Mond, and David Colturi) and others hailing from Mexico to Russia, will jump from a platform attached to the ICA’s roof, execute complex maneuvers, and end their dives with a splash into the Charles River. Their routines, scored by judges like former Olympic diving champion Greg Louganis, aren’t all too different from the London Olympics a couple weeks ago.

“It’s similar to Olympic diving,” says de Mond, who placed third in the 2011 Boston World Series. “It’s the same difficulty, only we’re adding flips and twists and height—it’s more technical.”

And when he says “height,” he really means height. The platform they will be diving from is 27 meters high—a steep (literally) difference from the 10-meter platform used in the Olympics. What’s going through the divers’ heads as they plunge from such a monstrous altitude?

Well, nothing.

“Once you take off from the platform, your body goes into autopilot, and the rest goes from there,” says LoBue, a fifth place finisher in Boston last year.

Though he blocks out the surrounding cityscape during his performance, LoBue is thrilled to visit Boston again during the 2012 world tour. Compared to the tour’s more remote locations—an uninhabited volcanic islet off shore of the Azores, an island off of Ireland’s west coast, a canon base in Corsica—an urban backdrop is certainly a change of pace, he says.

“An event like Boston is really fun,” he says. “Here you get the energy of the city and the enthusiasm of the crowd. It’s going to be a party-like atmosphere.”

Moral of the story? It’s not, “Please, try this at home.” It’s that if you see some guys falling from the sky, don’t panic. Grab your camera and join the party.

Free, August 25, 4 p.m., the Institute of Contemporary Art, 100 Northern Ave., Boston, 617-478-3100, icaboston.org.