Get to now the veterans of tomorrow
They come from all over the world; they’ve flown mountain ranges, won competitions, served in Special Forces and follow some interesting dietary regimes. They are the 2019 Red Bull X-Alps rookies. Here’s the lowdown on 7 of the 14 athletes taking part for the first time.
Years flying: 16 years
Random fact: His biggest fear is not getting enough food
A four-time Dolomitenmann competitor and xc champion, Schrempf is a paragliding instructor from Austria. Last year he won an xc contest held near Lake Garda. “I like the style of the Red Bull X-Alps,” he says. “It’s a dream to see where my boundaries lie.”
Years flying: 18 years
Diet: High carb and lots of veg
Random fact: Practises yoga every morning
A viking invader looking for glory, Christensen is a multiple Danish paragliding champion and recently came third in a hike and fly race across Norway. “I’m the only Danish person who is fit and capable of doing this,” he says. His strategy is to go all-out to win. But if that fails? “I will have fun all the way.”
Years flying: 14
Random fact: He was 13 when he started learning to fly but has been flying tandem since the age of nine.
One to watch: Pinot has never failed to be on the podium of a hike and fly competition that he entered. His list of paragliding wins and podium places is long and impressive across all disciplines of flying. He’s also a fast trail runner with a 3rd place in the 55km Trail des Lacs. Of the Red Bull X-Alps he says: “It’s the most amazing race in the world.” Watch out Chrigel!
Years flying: 4
Random fact: Took up paragliding in 2015.
Markus Anders is a particularly interesting athlete. He’s only been flying a few years and yet he’s an extremely competitive hike and fly and cross-country pilot, regularly placing in the top ten in both disciplines. Last year he also crossed New Zealand’s Southern Alps in three weeks. He’s also tough – at Iron Fly he hiked an average of 50km with 2,000m of vertical every day for five days – even with a swollen ankle. “I really like the adventure of paragliding and Red Bull X-Alps seems to be the ultimate adventure,” he says.
Years flying: 14
Diet: Ketogenic (pure fat, some proteins, no carbs, no sugar).
Random fact: Took up paragliding after failing to become a military pilot
Six time Croatian champion, Hrgetic has competed in numerous events around the world, including a 9th place at the PWC superfinal in 2009 and a first place at Monarca 2018 in the Sport and Serial class. He also leads xc tours in Colombia and the Alps. He says: “The idea of combining so many things to make it to Monaco is so appealing. It is not just flying, endurance, intel, support and equipment. It's also the pilot and the team.”
Years flying: 8 years
Diet: No sugar or bread
Random fact: He’s a Special Forces Major in charge of mountain troops
He may be from Lebanon but Rodolphe Akl has spent some serious time in the French Alps, as a mountain warfare leader and mountain guide. This guy is not going to have a problem looking after himself. He’s also been flying cross-country for years and claims an unofficial hike and fly record of 9,660m in 21 hours. In his quest to reach Monaco he says: “I will never surrender.”
Years flying: 5
Diet: High New Zealand beef diet!
Random fact: She was originally a fanatical rock climber until injury forced her to take up paragliding
One of two girls in this year’s race, Masztalerz is a real paragliding adventurer. In 2017 she did a solo vol-biv across New Zealand’s Southern Alps, surviving off 1,200 calories per day, carrying a 25kg backpack. She’s also the New Zealand champion – she should do well in the race. She says: “I fly as well and physically I'm as strong and mentally even stronger than some guys who made it to the finish in the past.”
Photos © zooom / Felix Wolk, zooom / Harald Tauderer.