Denali Siruno is a standout amongst a generation of athletes who have elevated the practice of parkour into performing mind-boggling feats only theorized or joked about by nerdy parkourists who didn’t believe they were possible. The young talent from Utah has developed a big-trick style that appears nearly effortless in its execution and infinitely broad in its variability. Denali was kind enough to take an interview in the middle of a parkour session, and talk about how his parkour developed, filming for Outsiders Freerunning, and his opinions on competition.
ME: What was the first parkour video that inspired you to move, and why?
Denali: I think the very first video that I saw that got me into the sport was Ronnie Street Stunts’ Assassins’ Creed video. I remember seeing it when I was 11, and just thinking it was the coolest thing ever. That same day I went outside and started learning front flips and backflips.
ME: Who is involved in Outsiders Freerunning, and what inspired the name?
Denali: Right now it's me, Rylan Woodbury, Niko Olsen, Kaden Larsen, Caden Abilla, and Asher Sorensen. As far as the name, it was like 2017 and we were all freshmen in highschool, and we were out of ideas. Outsiders sounded cool and fit the freerunning vibe. We’re currently working on a project, it’s going to be like a 5 minute video of all of our best stuff. It’ll probably take another couple of months to come out, but we’re hoping it could be the video of the year in terms of movement. I’m pretty hyped on what we’ve got so far.
ME: Your style seems to gravitate towards massive and highly technical skills, how has your style changed since you started parkour? Was there ever a time when you focused on more parkour challenges?
Denali: When I started I was learning a lot of tricking based stuff. I spent like a year just learning stuff on flat ground and a lot of twisting. Then I just started taking everything I could do off of ledges, which is how I found my niche in parkour. At first it’s just because I was doing triple fulls off of blocks and stuff, which a lot of people weren’t doing at the time. Ever since then I’ve been more focused on pushing myself creatively and mixing aspects of tricking, freerunning, and skiing, as well as other sports. I’ve never been super into parkour challenges, they always got kind of repetitive for me. It just comes down to what I like to train, I gravitate towards.
ME: How do you approach big tricks when taking them outside?
Denali: So I work at this place called KTR, where I can train while I work. We have this really nice ledge to airbag setup where I can practice skills and get really comfortable. When I can comfortably throw a trick onto the airbag, I’ll move it to mats, and then I usually try to pull it on spring floor at least once before I take something outside. If I can do something to spring floor, then there’s no reason not to do something on grass or concrete really, you know? Thankfully filming for this project has pulled me outside more too.
ME: What kind of injuries have you dealt with, and how have they impacted the way you move?
Denali: I tore my meniscus last year in July. It was on a skill that wasn’t really sketchy for me, it was like a full-dleg-unhalf, something I’d done a bunch of times before. I just wasn’t really thinking about it, I didn’t unhalf all the way, and just landed weird. I was out for three months after that injury, and it’s made me a lot more cautious, even about the little things that I’m really comfortable with. I have to really focus on what I’m doing. I feel like when most people get hurt it’s doing something that they’re comfortable doing, and they just do something stupid.
ME: What is one aspect of parkour that you would like to see grow in the eyes of the community?
Denali: Good question… I would honestly like to see competition get bigger. I really like the ones we have currently, but I would love to see more of them pop up, like a circuit so that people can be traveling and competing year round. I think competitions are the most fun thing about the sport. Competition just really pushes you to try your hardest and I think it’s how you get the most out of athletes. Every time Art of Motion or NAPC happens, the whole sport levels up because people try things that aren’t normally being done, and competition is responsible for that. [Competition] just pushes people to go harder than they normally would.
ME: What are your favorite and least favorite elements of competition?
Denali: Well obviously I think that competition is how the sport progresses. My least favorite element of competition is probably the judging, because in this sport specifically we don’t have anything objective to base scores on. For example, a double full isn’t worth the same amount of points in every competition, it’s entirely up to a judge and their interpretation of how hard a double full is, which is going to differ between judges. It just needs work. We need some kind of standard for how hard doing a skill as a precision is vs. doing a skill flat, etc. I think that would make competition more interesting and then you could actually tell if someone won. A lot of people are scared to add more specifications to competitions because they don’t want to turn into gymnastics, and that’s not the goal. I just think that it shouldn’t be a matter of opinion whether a triple full is easy or hard. If you perform one, depending on how high up you are, you earn a certain number into hypothetical points.
ME: What is one aspect of your own parkour that you would like to improve and why?
Denali: l want to get better at bars. I feel like that’s easily my biggest weakness. I just never train bars, so I have like three bar tricks and they’re all really easy. I know I would be a much more well-rounded athlete if I could get better on bars. The setup that we have at Lowe’s Extreme Air is pretty wobbly.
ME: What are your preferred parkour shoes?
Denali: It’s gotta be the Vans Ultrarange. They’re so light and there’s so much cushion. The grip is pretty good, not the best in the world, but for how I train it’s great. I don’t train a lot of jump heavy stuff, I’m just looking for a shoe that can take an impact and not slip on my takeoffs.
Denali and the rest of Outsiders are on the forefront of inspirational parkour movement; hitting some of the biggest and most technical tricks the parkour community has ever seen, and always pushing the envelope of creativity. The standard of difficulty being held by these young athletes is well beyond the scope of most others, and I can only see it landing them on whatever podium they wish to climb. The younger generation of athletes is progressing the sport in a direction that’s more expressive and permits deep analysis of the skills being performed, because one day, mankind will reach the physical limits of the distance we can jump, drop, or vault, but the realm of acrobatic experimentation is limitless, an expanse of endless potential for the discerning parkourist.