Sunday, July 16, 2017

Red Bull X-Alps 2017 Highlights

Here are the highlights from the Red Bull X-Alps 2017:

Christian Maurer (SUI1) won the Red Bull X-Alps 2017 in 10 days 23 hours 23 minutes 18 seconds. He spent 96.8 hours hiking and covered a total distance of 535.3km on foot. He spent 45 hours in the air and covered 1,736.2km flying. The straight-line distance of the course was 1,138km, but the total distance covered by Maurer was 2,271.5km.
Benoit Outters (FRA4) was the only other pilot to reach the final Turnpoint at Peille in the allotted time. He made it in 11 days 1 hour 12 minutes. He spent 131.8 hours hiking and covered 768.9km on foot. He spent 37.5 hours in the air and covered 1,340.6km. The total distance covered by Outters was 2,109.5km.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Saas-Fee Ski Season Opening Weekend 2017

On July 15 and 16, the Free Republic of Holidays Saas-Fee opens its summer ski resort featuring 20 km of expertly groomed slopes and one of the best summer Freestyle Parks in Europe.
Skiing in Saas-Fee in summer is an amazing experience and not just because of the pleasant temperatures and the glacier pistes. You might also spot national and international
sports teams training at the summer skiing area.

Saas-Fee is the perfect training playground for professional skiers and snowboarders. Every year National Teams and pros come to Saas-Fee to enjoy the perfect conditions of the glacier.

Saas-Fee offers ideal summer skiing and snowboarding conditions. Up on the glaciers there are 20 km of slopes to suit all levels. The Allalin Glacier is accessed via the underground funicular and is open from mid-July to late October. The glacier is particularly popular with freestylers and race teams. Swiss and international ski teams come here for their summer training sessions every year.
The snowpark has a half-pipe, kickers, rails, boxes and transitions in all shapes and sizes to suit all skill levels.

In 2012 the results of a questionnaire for "Best ski resort" with over 40‘000 guests were presented. Saas-Fee / Saastal was voted best Swiss ski Resort. Internationally it was even voted to second rank out of 55 top ski destinations in Austria, Germany, Italy, France and Switzerland. In terms of snow reliability, slope preparation and coziness, Saas-Fee/Saastal hit top status.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Red Bull X-Alps 2017 Race Report: Days 11 - 12

Christian Maurer Wins The Red Bull X-Alps 2017 And Makes It Five In A Row

Christian Maurer (SUI, picture attached) has won the Red Bull X-Alps 2017, the world’s toughest adventure race, for the fifth consecutive time. He arrived Turnpoint 7 a little after 11 am this morning, amid the cheers of die-hard fans who had gathered to welcome his arrival. With his arms aloft, he conquered the final few metres to the Turnpoint sign where the clock officially stops, after setting off from Salzburg just over 11 days and 23 hours ago.
He said: "I felt a lot of pressure this time. To win the first time was important. It was not so important with the others. But this time it was even more important to do well, so there was a lot of pressure. It's a great thing to win, but it's an adventure first and foremost, not a competition (...) It started badly. And with the wind, rain and thunderstorms, I've never faced such bad weather in the Red Bull X-Alps before. That made it much harder to plan. I'm happy to be here. For my knees, it's good to be over. They never had to work so hard. This is the first time I've hiked over 500km, normally it's more like 300km".
As is tradition, Maurer’s race is not over until he makes the ceremonial – and untimed – flight to Rocquebrune, which will take place after 7pm due to city regulations that restrict the flights to set times of the day.
Race director Christoph Weber said: "It’s an outstanding achievement. Tell me another athlete who’s dominated his sport for eight years like Maurer has. This year was also a much more punishing course and the weather made it harder for him. He excels in the air, but had to hike much of the last 200km, so it was not easy for him at all".
Maurer won the 2009 edition and was so quick he beat the organisers to Monaco. He subsequently won in 2011, 2013 and 2015. His success is all the more extraordinary since he started the race with a nasty cold that prevented him from competing in the one-day Leatherman Prologue.
In this race, he has covered a total distance of 2,268Km, of which 1,736km were flown in the air and 531km were hiked on the ground.

Red Bull X-Alps 2017 Winner Profile: Christian Maurer

Name: Christian ("Chrigel") Maurer
Nationality: Switzerland
Date of birth: 27/27/1982
City: Interlaken
Country: Switzerland
Profession: Paraglider Pilot
Supporter: Tobias Dimmler
Glider: Skywalk X-Alps 3S
Sponsors: LOWA, TeamWork, You Count, SHV, Taktil, Dermaplast, Salewa, Skywalk, Adelboden, Bächli Bergsport, Luftikus, Saij, X-Bionic, X-Socks, Leki, Gloryfy

Red Bull X-Alps 2017 Race Report: Day 11

Here are the highlights from day 11 of the Red Bull X-Alps 2017:

After eleven days the end is finally in sight for race leader Chrigel Maurer. He landed in the Italian town Latte yesterday afternoon and was just 15km short of the Turnpoint of Peille last night. When he turns up is anyone’s guess however. He’s said to be hurting bad. He could take his time to rest and turn up in the morning. He’ll then most likely fly down into Monaco to complete his ‘victory lap’ descent in the evening.
As soon as he arrives at Peille, the countdown then begins on the rest of the chaser pack, who’ll have 24 hours to make goal before time is called on the 2017 Red Bull X-Alps. Outters who is 51km behind should safely make 2nd place, while Guschlbauer also looks in a strong position to claim his third 3rd place finish.
But who among the chaser pack will also make Monaco? The rest of the pack, made up of Stanislav Mayer, Pascal Purin, Ferdinand van Schelven and Simon Oberrauner, is clearly determined to put in one last push. Everyone who can has pulled a Ledlenser Night Pass – everyone except Nick Neynens that is, but then he’s always gone his own way this race.
Stanislav Mayer and Ferdinand van Schelven have both had outstanding races. But one of the chaser group will no longer be flying wing-to-wing with them. Today, Manuel Nübel called time on his race. He’s simply exhausted and doesn’t want to injure himself by continuing.
Meanwhile, rookie Simon Oberrauner pulled his Night Pass a day early, and has been flipflopping within the Top 10, making it as high as third for a while.
At the back, with 548km still to go, Jesse Williams and Tom de Dorlodot are currently bringing up the rear, but Mitch Riley just ahead, with Evgenii Griaznov a few kilometres up the road.
They are all currently hiking for their place in the race, and even though the Russian is leading the pack, he is the only one that doesn't have a Night Pass, and looks most likely to go.
It’s been an exhausting battle for the athletes, but the next 36 hours could be the most exciting of the race as they all put in a heroic effort to make goal. It’s going to be a long night.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Red Bull X-Alps 2017 Race Report: Day 10

Here are the highlights from day 10 of The Red Bull X-Alps 2017:

They say you fly faster in a gaggle, where athletes can watch each other and observe the thermals more easily. But there’s one man this race who’s gone his own way and still managed to stay up front. And that’s Paul Guschlbauer (AUT1).
He’s yo-yo’d in the rankings, keeping the heart-rates of his team and supporters on edge, but since Lake Garda he’s put in a storming performance.
Yesterday was another big day for the Austrian, putting in 156.6km on the clock, flying over 120km from the Matterhorn to the edge of Turin. No one is doing these kinds of distances in the air in these conditions.
"He’s flying a blinder", says Race Organiser Ulrich Grill. "I’m really impressed. He took a very bold and difficult line across the Italian lakes. He’s flown past the gaggle and is currently third. And he seems to be having fun while doing it".
His day began with a flight that climbed up to 3,560m in the high mountains near Turnpoint 6, included 36km on foot and ended with a glide off the shoulder of Rosa dei Banchi (3,164m) to finish the day near the town of Cuorgne. He can be pleased with that, but will still need to fight hard to maintain his lead.
Just 20km to the north lie several threats Chiefly from Stanislav Mayer (CZE) - also enjoying an outstanding performance - and Austrian rookie Simon Oberaunner (AUT4).
The pair provided a thrilling spectacle as they flew south neck-and-neck but along different lines this afternoon. It looked as though Mayer had got the better of the 26-year-old Austrian by the close of play, finishing 9km ahead.
Ahead in second place, Frenchman Benoït Outters (FRA4) ploughed away along the baking hot road skirting Turin, his face showing the strain, even if his body kept up a relentless 6km/h pace. By the end of the day he’d clocked another 92km, 67km of which were on foot. When asked what he was most looking forward to in Monaco, he just said: ‘The finish’.
No doubt that’s a sentiment shared by Chrigel Maurer (SUI1), 56km ahead but still 95km from goal. He told us earlier that he reckoned he still had 12 hours of hiking before getting to a decent launch point to strike for Monaco. That puts a realistic finish time on Thursday and will most likely be his longest ever race – over 11 days.
His body is not used to this. He’s nursing a knee injury, which is not such an issue for someone who normally spends most of his time in the air, but this afternoon Maurer had to take drastic action to avoid a thunderstorm and has finished up back on the flats – just the kind of territory that aggravates the knee. It must have been an exciting ride – his Flymaster flight instrument recorded a top speed of 104km/h.
After covering 20km in 12 hours he said it had been ‘the most inefficient day’ in the history of his five Red Bull X-Alps editions. But he too had settled in for the slog. By the end of the day he’d managed to inch a total of 96km towards goal. Kilometer by kilometer, the slow march to Monaco continues.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Red Bull X-Alps 2017 Race Report: Day 9

Here are the highlights from day 9 of The Red Bull X-Alps 2017:

Everyone now is feeling the pain of this race. From Chrigel Maurer up front to Jose Ignacio Arevalo Guede at the back, every athlete is battling the blisters, bad knees, sore joints, sunburn or just plain exhaustion. Everyone except Tom de Dorlodot that is, who is raring to go after 48 hours in the sin bin.
Maurer’s got a bad knee making hiking on the flat extremely painful, as well as preventing him from using full speed bar as he can only push it with his left leg. It seems this race is too brutal even for him.
Normally that should be the green light for superhuman ultrarunner Benoït Outters, currently 70km back, to take advantage. But it turns out that he is human after all. After pulling his Ledlenser Night Pass last night he confesses to feeling ‘very tired’. He now doubts that he can catch Chrigel – although that was said before news of Chrigel’s knee became public.
Maurer is closest to Monaco with 140km to go, but if you can’t fly and walking hurts, that’s still an awful long way to go – especially on the notoriously evil switchback roads in the south of France.
"With good conditions, I might make it on Wednesday and with bad luck, Friday. I think probably Thursday", he said.
The battle for 3rd place continues. Paul Guschlbauer currently holds the bronze crown and was just 20km to the east of the Matterhorn yesterday evening. But rookie Simon Oberrauner is only 2km behind and he’s hiking through the night.
And yet the crown could still go to Purin, Nübel, Mayer or van Schelven who are all within a few kilometers of each other. Nübel at least seems to be back in the game after requiring medical treatment last night suffering from heat exhaustion and dehydration after yesterday’s yomp along the flat.
Thirty one athletes began this race just over a week ago.Yesterday evening only 23 remain in the field – down to 22 tomorrow when the axeman’s chop comes down on the last man in the field – likely to be Jose Arevalo Guede, despite him pulling a Ledlenser Night Pass. He’d need to cover over 70km to stay in the game.
But the race will gain two athletes from tomorrow when Evgenii Griaznov and Pal Takats are allowed to get on the move again after their 48 hour penalties.
This has been the most brutal race in recent Red Bull X-Alps history and it shows no sign of letting up.
"We fly down, hike back up again, fly down – it’s the story of my life", said Krischa Berlinger this morning. This evening he was still 100km from Turnpoint 5, Monte Baldo. No doubt he – and every other athlete – will carry on doing a bit more hiking up and flying down before it’s over.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Red Bull X-Alps 2017 Race Report: Day 8

Here are the highlights from day 8 of  the Red Bull X-Alps 2017:

Chrigel Maurer (SUI1) passed Turnpoint 6, the Matterhorn, yestterday morning, and then made slow progress south towards the final Turnpoint at Peille. With some flying and some hiking he is now just over 200km away from goal.
Maurer announced yesterday afternoon that, because of the weather conditions, he would take the Italian route to Monaco - unlike in the previous four editions where he has flown through France.
The bad weather may actually help Benoit Outters, who has pulled a Ledlenser Night Pass and was making the most of the day with a late evening flight at 19:30. He is 86km behind Maurer, but he is also an accomplished ultra-runner and mountain man - by taking a direct line towards the Matterhorn across serious alpine terrain it is not inconceivable that he could close the gap considerably overnight.
Yesterday evening he said: "I am feeling fine! I just had a good flight, and now I plan to walk to a mountain refuge and spend the night there at 2,200m. In the morning I will hike up to a ridge, take off, fly to another ridge, climb up, fly, and get to the Matterhorn this way".
Behind him, Paul Guschlbauer (AUT1) is in third position. He has run his own race through this edition of the Red Bull X-Alps, and today he continued to do the same. He took a line further south compared with the rest of the chasing pack. It meant he had to hop across two big lakes by air, and run around one.
Further back, the chaser pack kept on chasing - just for most of the day it was along the road. While Pal Takats (HUN) enjoyed an ice cream on the shores of Lake Como while starting his 48-hour time penalty, the others motored through.
One athlete who did his own thing was Nick Neynens (NZL). He went north, a long way off the course-line. Why?
"It all started yesterday, when I had a cracker of a flight", he explained from the road. "I got to Lake Garda by flying and then had another great flight. So today I was trying to do the same thing and stay high, but I didn’t make one transition across a valley so I drifted north - because I thought that looked like the best chance of getting high. But I was wrong. The clouds overdeveloped and there were some storms. I landed before the storms, and then there was another flyable window later, but it was weaker conditions".
He wasn’t too downbeat about the lost time. "I prefer flying to hiking", he said, adding: "I’m now planning to hike on and get into a good position for an early morning glide down to Chiavenna. Physically I’m doing ok. My legs are good, I have the odd blister from the first day but nothing serious".
From front to back the athletes are now spread out over 550km.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Red Bull X-Alps 2017 Race Report: Day 7

Here are the highlights from day 7 of the Red Bull X-Alps 2017:

It’s been a busy day across the Alps. Up front, Christian Maurer (SUI1) extended his lead and was this evening within touching distance of the Matterhorn, Turnpoint 6.
"I think he’ll make Monaco on Monday", said race director Christoph Weber. "I’m leaving tomorrow" (In 2009, Maurer actually beat the organisation to Monaco.)
However, Maurer is not so optimistic. "I think more like four to five days. The weather is not really flyable for the next day or so".
His plan is not to fly north and pick up the Rhone superhighway, but to enter the Aosta valley and then head for Val d’Isere and then onto Briancon before following a similar line to Monaco from 2015. 
"I will climb up to 2,000m tomorrow and I hope it’s not too windy so I can fly down to Aosta, otherwise I will have to walk. It’s going to be a hard day for sure".
If it does take him another four to five days to make goal it could be one of his slowest years. His record is 6d 23h in 2013; his slowest time to Monaco was 11d in 2011.
Otherwise he said he’s feeling strong and the team is the best it’s ever been. "I’m within my comfort zone and flying as before but I also have better planning, better logistics, I can push more on the ground. I’m very relaxed and this makes me positive". There’s a small knee complaint but nothing serious.
In second place was Gaspard Petiot (FRA2) but today he was forced to retire after injuring his wrist and knee during a bad landing near Lake Como.
"I was trying to get into a small landing and a thermic bubble blew me into a wall", he said.
"It was the perfect race until this", he added. His retirement from the race comes just 383km from Monaco. He had spent 35.8 hours flying, during which he covered 1,401.5km in the air.
Near the back, Che Golus (AUS) also quit after picking up an injury.
Rookie Benoït Outters (FRA4) now assumes 2nd place. "It’s very sad news for Gaspard but the race continues", he said.
And it’s turning into quite a battle as there are now eight athletes in with a chance, all within 30km of each other. For the last two days they’ve been jockeying for position but also co-operating, sharing intel, the good times and the bad. As Pascal Purin (AUT3) told us yesterday: "It’s great to fly with my friends".
The gaggle of Pascal, Sebastian Huber (GER1), Ferdinand van Schelven (NLD) and Simon Oberrauner (AUT4) started the day with an epic flight off the Brenta, gliding with minimal thermal activity for more than 20km all the way from glaciated peaks to the warm shores of Lake Garda. "It was very impressive", said Weber.
Pal Takats (HUN) would have been in contention and is now within touching distance of Lake Como, but he is now grounded for 48 hours following an airspace violation.
After a bad day yesterday, during which he fell back to 7th place, Paul Guschlbauer (AUT1) put in a blinder today and is currently behind Manuel Nübel (GER2) in 5th. But that 3rd spot is open to anyone – who will take the prize?
But there’s still a way to go, and as Chrigel warns: "The difference between a normal paragliding competition and an adventure race like this is that with an adventure you never know what’s going to happen – and anything can happen".

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Red Bull X-Alps 2017 Race Report: Day 6

Here are the highlights from day 6 of the Red Bull X-Alps 2017:

Six days ago 31 athletes started out from Salzburg. Today, just 26 athletes are still plugging away and the field now stretches for 500km across northern Italy, Austria and southern Germany.
At the front is Chrigel Maurer (SUI1), now on the western slopes of Lake Como. At one point this afternoon, it looked as though a new chapter in Red Bull X-Alps history would have to be written as Gaspard Petiot (FRA2) reeled him in and then drew level.
No one has caught up with Maurer like that before. But that was before Maurer got airborne again this afternoon. By the time he’d touched down, he’d managed to open up a 64km lead, flying along the south-facing flanks of the Valtellina valley.
But whereas yesterday he’d been able to cruise along the summits, this time it looked a lot more rough and dirty. The valley is notorious for its afternoon winds and Maurer would have had to fight against turbulent conditions. It would have demanded total commitment and skill, but then he’s not short of either.
Just a few hours earlier it had all looked so different as Gaspard Petiot drew level and then – for a brief moment – his name appeared at the top of the leaderboard. It was such a unique moment, we had to screenshot it for posterity. For a moment Maurer looked threatened.
Elsewhere it was a day in which the talent really showed itself. Red Bull X-Alps rookie Benoït Outters (FRA4) put in a great flight and overtook Guschlbauer (AUT1), who fell to 7th place. This evening just 9km and 1,000m of vertical ascent separated him from Turnpoint 5, Monte Baldo.
For a man of his ultra-running capability, that should take no longer than two to three hours, too long to bag tonight. But expect him to launch across Lake Garda early in the morning.
The chasing group who gathered on the summit of Matatze this morning, just north of Merano, had mixed fortunes. Nick Neynens (NZL) decided not to wait for the inversion to clear and took a bold decision to go anyway. Seeing him find some lift had Pal Takats (HUN) running for his wing and launching himself off the slope in hot pursuit.
By the end of the day, Neynens was 65km from the Turnpoint while Takats, along with Manuel Nübel (GER1) and Stanislav Mayer (CZE) were just behind Outters in the resort of Riva del Garda. Takats has a Ledlenser Night Pass so he’ll reach the Turnpoint tonight - but then he has to serve a 48-hour penalty (starting Sunday 05:00) for airspace infringement yesterday, so it’s a bitter-sweet experience for him.
Good days and bad. Every athlete experiences them. In 18th place, Krischa Berlinger (SUI2) complained of 50kph winds that made flying impossible en route to Turnpoint 4. He still had another 50km to go. Michael Gierlach (POL) also said he’d had a tough day. "It’s been hot, I tried to fly but it was windy, so I got into the lee side and had short flights".
He is currently about 45km from Turnpoint 4, about 350km from the race leader. "I hoped for something better, but it is what it is".