Matt Griff Takes A Liking To Extreme Sports
SALT LAKE CITY - For Matt Griff, a member of the Utah Blaze Extreme Team, bouncing off a mini-trampoline over several mascots, while doing a flip some 12 feet in the air, isn't necessarily the most exhilarating part of his life. He has other avocations which include being a movie stunt double and an aspiring member of the U.S. Skeleton Team.
Griff got his start as a movie stunt double for Sean Faris, the lead actor in the movie 'Forever Strong'. The movie was a perfect fit for Griff because not only did he have similar looks to Faris, but just more than a decade ago he played rugby for Salt Lake City's Highland High School, which was the premise of the movie's plot.
Due to his involvement in 'Forever Strong', Griff has found what he hopes can become a career.
"I certainly would like to be at the [Hollywood] level of stuntman," he said.
Yet with the glamour and glitz of a hopeful Hollywood career comes a certain danger. In early October while on set doing a stunt for a commercial a mishap occurred. The miscue left Griff out of work for approximately three weeks.
"There were some pyrotechnics involved," says Griff, recalling the accident. "I was engulfed in a fireball and my face was burned pretty badly.
"I had to go to the emergency room and then they transferred me to the burn unit," he said. "That was pretty messed up. I'm not going to lie."
Despite that scary incident, Griff doesn't consider his work as a stuntman the scariest thing he does. Griff says doing an unknown skeleton course for the first time is much more nerve-racking.
"Sliding a new track is pretty freaky," he said. "You can walk the track a hundred times, but the sensation of going down it at 70 miles per hour is completely different.
"As far as doing shows, I have an idea of what I'm doing, and the stunts, I can practice and go over what the stunt is going to be like."
Coincidently, Griff began participating in skeleton about the same time he started doing stunts. He's fairly new to the sport only having participated in it since January 2007, while he started doing stunts in the summer of 2006.
He first became interested in skeleton by word of mouth, which led Griff to do some research on the sport. After that initial research he realized he had the necessary skill set for skeleton and decided to give it a try.
"I saw a [skeleton] athlete and I thought, 'He is not the prototypical athlete that's 6-foot- 2, 220 pounds'," said Griff, who realized his 170-pound-frame was suitable for the sport.
Since then, he has dedicated much of his time to skeleton, practicing and training three to four hours a day. He hopes his training will pay off and he can make the U.S. Skeleton World Cup Team. Eventually, he would like to compete for a spot on the Olympic Team for most likely the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Surprisingly, despite a life filled with on-the-edge activities, Griff doesn't consider himself an audacious person.
"I'm not a thrill-seeker... (pause)...by any means at all," stated Griff decisively. "I'm not a speed demon or an adrenaline junky."
If a career as an Olympic athlete or a Hollywood stuntman doesn't work out for him, he hopes to continue to stay involved in athletics. The Blaze organization hopes Griff sticks around as well. Tom Schimpf, Director of Game Operations for the Utah Blaze, may sum up Griff's life best.
"He lives out his dreams everyday," said Schimpf. "He is a great leader by example."
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