Bringing you closer to the Turnpoints of Red Bull X-Alps 2019
Few race fans can forget the moment in 2017 when athletes came into land at Lermoos after some of the most challenging flying conditions. First there was Maurer and Petiot, who literally kissed the ground in relief. The following day came the gaggle, flying in so tightly packed together it looked like an aerial display. The Turnpoint ended up hosting some of the most dramatic action of the race. Below, with the help from Birgit Linder, of Tiroler Zugspitz Arena tourism, we relive some of those highlights, and reveal why you need to get out there yourself.
You can spend all day looking at the view
The Turnpoint is situated in Lermoos, which is dominated by the Zugspitze massif. “It’s a super cool panorama,” says Birgit. “The region has this perfect combination of a mostly flat area surrounded by massive mountains. And as we say, we’re more sunny on the Austrian side! The cuisine is typically Tyrolean and Austrian but often with a modern touch. Don’t forget to try the Kaiserschmarrn, it tastes different to anywhere you go!”
The Zugspitze is the highest peak of Wetterstein, a massive mountain range between Austria and Germany. From the top you can see hundreds of peaks over 3,000m and four countries (Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Italy). “The Zugspitze is the first high mountain at the foothills of the Eastern Alps – that’s why the view up there is so fantastic,” says Birgit.
It’s where to see the action
Strategically, the Lermoos Turnpoint plays a significant part in the race. It’s no secret that many athletes resent being forced to come into land when they could potentially stay airborne. But doing so forces them to make some interesting route decisions. On day 5 in 2017 most athletes hiked for two hours to the take-off in the south. But who can forget Sebastian Huber who decided to try his luck taking off from the field behind the Turnpoint – and succeeded? “My paragliding friends were running crazy because it’s super difficult to start there. I didn’t even know that was possible,” says Birgit.
You can fly like a hero
“Lermoos has become very popular for paragliders, especially Grubigstein,” says Birgit. “Thanks to the Red Bull X-Alps many paragliders now know that the mountain offers great conditions. There’s also great paragliding shop and school where the Grubigsteinbahn starts, the local guys meet there and have many helpful tips. The atmosphere is cool and the Turnpoint board is also still there.”
The skiing’s great
“You can enjoy the slopes of seven different skiing areas,” says Birgit. Cross-country skiing is popular as well as snowshoeing and winter hiking. And there’s more to the apres ski she says, than falling off your bar stool. “Every evening there’s a different program, from tobogganing on the slopes to torchlight hikes to ski shows.”
It’s where the Zugspitze went head to head with Coconea, and lost
When it comes to making strategic decisions on the ground, it usually comes down to weighing up the pros and cons between the shortest distance and avoiding unnecessary climbs. Most athletes prefer to add on a few kilometers on the flat if it means avoiding a big ascent. Not so Toma Coconea. He took a direct line up and down the mountain to dramatically make the Turnpoint moments before the mandatory rest period kicked in at 22.30.
It’s where to find the action in 2019
“It’s the atmosphere at the Turnpoint,” says Birgit. “It’s kind of a sizzling excitement, everybody fascinated even people who’ve never tried paragliding. It’s infectious, everyone watching the athletes via mobile phone, seeing them passing the Zugspitze and heading to land in Lermoos. We’re so much looking forward to 2019!”
More stunning images of the last race edition in 2017 on our Instagram channel!
Photos by © zooom / Harald Tauderer, © zooom / Sebastian Marko