Hiking to fly

At 10am athletes had been on the move for five hours – most of them hiking.

Christian Maurer (SUI1) and Paul Guschlbauer (AUT1) hike during the Red Bull X-Alps in Aschau, Germany on June 17, 2019.

Getting the race right on the ground is key to doing well in the Red Bull X-Alps.

On a day with good weather hiking allows the athlete to get in position to allow a good flight. 

On a day with bad weather, it allows athletes to keep making progress, whatever the conditions throw at them.

This morning athletes across the field have been hiking hard. At the front, Chrigel Maurer (SUI1) and Maxime Pinot (FRA4) hiked for several hours to position themselves on a southeast facing mountain slope.

There they waited. They know they will be much faster in the air – so they have waited and rested on the mountain. When the first thermals start, they will be in the air and flying.

Then they will travel quickly to the Turnpoint 4 Kronplatz. Maurer’s average hiking speed is 4.83km/h so far in the race – his flying average is 37.42km/h. That’s almost eight times faster.

Towards the back, Rookie Cody Mittanck (USA3) was upbeat despite his position in the race. Despite working hard he’d struggled to get into a good position to fly yesterday. 

“It’s clear that local knowledge really counts in this race, and it’s obvious that we are lacking that,” he said. “We don’t know the take-offs, and knowing how to stage the race is hard. It’s one big learning experience!”

Meanwhile, athletes around Turnpoint 3 Aschau-Chiemsee had hiked up to take-off on the Kamperwand and were launching into the day’s first thermals just before 10am. They will be hoping to take advantage of a north wind that will help blow them south, towards the main Alpine ridge and then on to Turnpoint 4, Kronplatz. 

However far they fly, one thing is for sure. They will land – and then the hiking will start once again.

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