The supporter's story
Athletes don't do the Red Bull X-Alps alone – supporters are a crucial part of the team
The Red Bull X-Alps is very much a team event and the supporters are the unsung heroes. "It's an adventure in the nature," says Paul Guschlbauer's (AUT1) supporter Werner Strittl, "but each day you're having to innovate."
Paul spent the night in a mountain hut in the Aosta valley. "We phone the guardian of the closest hut, but there was no space. We had to phone around to find another hut.
It was really late in the day and the ski lift was closed, so we could not get to Paul. We managed to find a policeman and persuade him to drive Werner and a photographer up to the hut, so in the end it was all OK."
The Live Tracking really helps. "It's incredible," says Werner, "you go on these tiny roads in the mountains, and then you turn the corner and then Paul is there in the middle of nowhere!"
Sometimes things don't go so smoothly. "When Paul first touched the glaciers, at the top of the Bernina Pass we opened the bag to find two left gloves and no sunglasses. Paul flew up to 4,500m that day and when he landed he complained that his eyes were hurting. He had mild snowblindness. We had to run to the pharmacy to get some drops for his eyes."
Othertimes it's just luck. Paul landed in thick bushes just behind the Peille launch, with Gaspard Petiot (FRA4), Aaron Durogati (ITA), and Antoine Girard (FRA2) closing in. "We were a bit lost trying to get the launch. We turned the corner and suddenly we saw Paul with his wing in the bushes.
“It was complete luck, but we were there with some fans who were also following us. The seven of us managed to get Paul's wing out in less than ten minutes. If we'd been at launch he would have been stuck."
It's not just food and shelter that the supporters provide, but psychological support in difficult times to. "Paul's girlfriend hiked with Paul for five hours through the night. She has long legs and he could barely keep up!"
Photo: Paul Guschlbauer (AUT1) and supporter Werner Strittl © zooom.at/Harald Tauderer