Meet Stanislav Mayer, the Czech athlete who's only been flying 5 years
Stanislav Mayer (CZE) takes off his headphones to talk. A wry grin spreads across his face when he's asked what he's listening. "Best Songs of the 90s" he chuckles... "this one is Alanis Morisette - Isn't it Ironic!"
It's quite apt, given what comes next. I wonder if there's any way Stan wished he'd prepared more. "Yes, knowing the mountains and flying them in bad weather," he replies. "I live in Czech republic, and we only ever travel to the Alps when the weather's good, to do 200 km FAI triangles and big flights. I can't persuade my friends to come here when it's bad, and it's too expensive to do it alone."
Stan's been flying for five years. He got hooked when a climbing friend introduce him to paragliding, and soon got into racing.
What's been his greatest moment over the past four days? "I had a very scary time in Germany. I jumped over a col with only 20 metres spare into the leeside and was getting thrown down towards a big ridge of trees. I thought, 'help, I'm going to end up in the trees,' but then I hit this strong thermal in the middle of nowhere. It was such good luck. I was so happy, and I am so happy to be here now!"
It's been an emotional ride in more ways than one. At the start of the race, huge arguments broke out in team CZE. "I had a friend who came to help with the hiking and also my official supporter too. They had a clash.
"My friend wanted to enjoy his time, spend moments with nature, while my official supporter is very performance-orientated. So one will want to keep the car running to charge instruments in the evening and the other will want to turn it off to listen to the birdsong!"
Eventually Stan's friend went home. "I appreciate his position. I was supporter in the race in 2013, but I actually got to fly a lot too - it was cool" he says.
Stan strides on. He doesn't seem to have any physical problems, and is confident and relaxed as always despite the huge challenges behind and in front of him. Oh, and he was born in 1989. So best of the 80s, perhaps instead?
Photos: Stanislav Mayer on Day 4 of the Red Bull X-Alps © zooom.at/Vitek Ludvik and Sebastian Marko.