Chrigel Maurer (SUI1) joked at the finishing float in Zell am See that he might pull his second Night Pass so he can stay up and celebrate!
The feat surpasses his 2013 record of six days, 23 hours, and 40 minutes. That edition was 1031km long, (Chrigel actually covered 2556km to complete that route – 2288km in the air and 268 km on the ground) compared to this year's epic 1223km around the spine of the Alps, (this time flying 1931km over 56 hours and hiking 189 km in 34 hours).
It’s the second time the race has finished in Zell am See, rather than Monaco, and the first time it’s started in Kitzbühel. The longest race route belongs to the 2021 edition at 1238km and Chrigel won that too in eight days, six hours, 30 minutes, and 28 seconds.
This year Chrigel decided to shake up his support team just before the race and felt ill during it, (he had a cough around day five and wasn’t feeling great).
So what is it about Chrigel Maurer that makes him able to pull it off every time?
After being overtaken by Maxime Pinot (FRA1) and Damien Lacaze (FRA2) towards the end of day five, Chrigel managed to claw his way back into the lead.
"He totally kept his calm when he was passed by Damien and Maxime. Then the next morning he found a much better spot to launch, had a much better flight, and just put a huge distance on them,” said race reporter Gavin McClurg.
“He proved, once again, that he just makes the best decisions in the mountains. In the biggest terrain, he's the best pilot in the world, period,” added Gavin.
Chrigel’s timing is also impeccable, such as his arrival at the Rifugio Auronzo near Drei Zinnen, 15 minutes before the mandatory rest period kicked in at 23:00, enabling him to be in the best position to start day seven.
“To know that he could make the 1500m climb in time. That's serious calculation and timing with his ascents - also important in this race,” said race reporter, Tarquin Cooper.
Chrigel clearly knows how fast he hikes. As a rule of thumb, athletes will hike 600m per hour vertically, and at a steady pace of 900m per hour when pushing it.
Gavin agrees that Chrigel’s timing is impressive and he knows when to be bold: “In 2019, he took off barely above the sign board in Davos rather than continuing to climb. It was very risky and it meant he had to hook a quick climb and get out. But he knew he only had a certain amount of time to fly to Titlis in Switzerland. Top landing meant it would save him four kilometers of climbing and win him the race. He was the only one to pull the move off. From that point, the race was his.”
Chrigel also takes this race very seriously and works really hard to prepare for it. “Maxime trains so hard, he's such an amazing pilot. Many would say he's a better comp pilot than Chrigel. But you always have to put the money on Chrigel. Who is ever going to beat him?” questioned Gavin.
The Swiss champ is not the only athlete to be making it around the course at an impressive pace, so other factors have also come into play. The weather has been good, and this year has seen an impressive display of teamwork. Moving together in a gaggle is clearly the way for athletes to move faster and be more efficient in the air.
Whatever the reasons, Gavin thinks we have many more years of Chrigel at the Red Bull X-Alps”: “Which is cool because he works harder than anybody else and deserves to win”.
Top image © zooom / Christian Lorenz