Red Bull X-Alps

Team CAN

Richard Brezina

  • Nationality: Canada
  • Date of birth: 17. Aug. 1968
  • Profession: Teacher
  • Supporter: Julien Maatouk
  • Glider: Skywalk Poison X-Alps
  • Website: http://rickbrezina.info/
  • Sponsors: Gain International, Montbell, Yamashita Clinic, Kumaden, Yaesu, Sakura Internet, Kuratake Paragliding
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  • Even though he's a Red Bull X-Alps rookie, Richard Brezina has been in the adventure and endurance sports game for years, but only started paragliding in 2010. He's summitted Mont Blanc, completed numerous ocean treks on kayak and finished the legendary Kyushu Flight. Look for this Canadian to make an impression during Red Bull X-Alps 2017.
  • When and why did you begin paragliding?
    I began in 2010, because it is something I always wanted to do.
  • Do you paraglide competitively? List rankings and events.
    Although I would like to, due to my employment situation, I am not able to take time off work for competitions. I participate in local competitions, when possible, including our local comp Amakusa X-Athlon (kuratakepara.info/xathlon), of which I am also one of the main organizers.
  • What is your mountaineering experience?
    I have over 20 years of climbing and mountaineering experience, with notable ascents too numerous to mention. For example, I have climbed the Cassin Ridge of Mt. McKinley and the Brenva Spur of Mt. Blanc.
  • What is your paragliding experience?
    I fly over 500 hours a year, focusing on cross-country flying. I have set the distance XC record for the southernmost large island of Kyushu, Japan. Every year I visit the Alps and Australia for two weeks each. In the Alps I have done numerous XC flights in the 100-200km range. Just these past two weeks I have flown over 1000km of XC in the Alps. In Australia I have flown numerous XC over 200km and my record is 332km. Most of these flights can be seen on the xcontest site.
  • What is your adventure racing / endurance sport experience?
    Mostly the Amakusa X-Athlon, a local adventure race loosely modeled on the Dolomite Man, which I have won 5 consecutive times in the full-entry category.
  • What does your typical training week consist of?
    Besides about 10-15 hours of flying weekly, I do MTB, trail running, sea-kayak, etc., for several hours, virtually every day.
  • What are your best and worst adventure/flying moments?
    Best: Arriving at some uninhabited islands after 26 continuous hours of open-sea paddling for 150km in a double sea-kayak with my wife, in stormy weather. Worst: 3 complete deflations at low altitude this summer in the Alps. It was lucky I was able to recover in time, and an important lesson was learned: I will never again attempt going against a valley wind rotor.
  • What are the sporting moments you are most proud of?
    As a kid, escaping after school to run long distance and explore the nearby mountains. Getting over my fear of heights while learning rock climbing. Finding myself at 4000m for the first time, and realizing I can still breathe and survive. Reaching the summit of Mont Blanc. Although not my hardest achievement, nevertheless a symbolic mountain and moment for me. Reaching the top of Mt. McKinley several times, often light and fast, always in good style. My very first paragliding flight. Completing the record Kyushu flight. Although only 91km, it was the result of years of planning and aborted efforts. A very committing flight, it crossed steep peaks and canyons, flying the terrain with virtually no landing options. No one else had ever attempted this route before.
  • When and how did you first hear about the Red Bull X-Alps?
    On the Internet, soon after starting paragliding. I was immediately fascinated.
  • Have you competed in the Red Bull X-Alps before and if so, when?
    No.
  • What appeals to you about the Red Bull X-Alps?
    I do not normally seek competitions that much, preferring to compete against my own abilities and goals, but as soon as I heard about the Red Bull X-Alps, I realized this race would be well-suited for me, due to my combination of mountaineering, paragliding, map-reading, weather-forecasting, and risk-assessment skills.
  • What will be your strategy during the race?
    It will be a back-to-the-basics, low-budget, high-adventure, minimalist strategy, relying on good friends for support. This is as much due to my financial constraints as it is simply the style that I am most interested in. There will be a solid preparation involving in-depth research as well as physical and mental training; actually this is already under way. Studying the detailed topography, weather patterns, and other pilots’ flights in the Alps will provide the necessary background for my talents in map reading, orientation, and weather forecasting to come to fruition. By the time the race comes, this base of knowledge combined with my talents, will be my main weapon.
  • On average, over a third of the Red Bull X-Alps participants fail to finish the event. Why do you think you will make it?
    My very high natural level of stamina and determination will keep me pushing to the goal under even the most adverse conditions; the only thing that will stop me will be bodily injury or plain and extreme danger. Comparing my Alpine flights to others, I know I have the piloting ability to fly with the main pack in the X-Alps. When my preparation efforts are added to this, I believe I can move as well as many of the athletes who were able to finish the X-Alps in the past.
  • What scares you the most about the event?
    Obviously the pressure of having to fly in dangerous conditions.
  • Have you ever done anything of this magnitude before?
    My day-to-day training and existence is already pretty similar to an extreme adventure race of X-Alps caliber. I play hard and rest little. My allotted two-week vacations are basically the same as the X-Alps race: for example paddling 800 km of open seas from Okinawa to Kyushu, or flying over 1000km in the Alps over 2 weeks.

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