‘The experience is incredible’

Kinga Masztalerz is having a blast

Kinga Masztalerz (NZL2) is one of only two women in the Red Bull X-Alps this year. A Rookie in the race she also considers herself a fairly new pilot, having only been flying ‘intensively’ since 2014. 

However, as a rock climber and ultra-marathon runner, she has the perfect mindset for this race, which at its best combines strategy, tactics, strength, skill and endurance.

Speaking as she hiked along a road early this morning she said she was ‘hugely enjoying’ her first Red Bull X-Alps – and was learning a lot.

‘Yesterday was super interesting. I climbed a beautiful mountain in the morning. I moved forward. Unforgettable.’

The previous day had been a low point. ‘I listened to a very experienced pilot who lives in the area, instead of my own gut, and it was a disaster. I ended up walking around in circles. I was on the ground, it was late, it started raining. A lot of effort that didn’t move me forwards at all.’

It was a ‘very important lesson’ she said. ‘I realised I can trust myself. I am quite a young pilot, and I still have the feeling that other pilots might know better. But my lesson is to trust my gut.’

Inn the air the flying has been ‘incredible!’ she enthused. ‘Every day is just unforgettable. It has opened my eyes so much to what we can do by paragliding.

‘If you don’t worry about coming back to the car, or how much you have to hike, then suddenly you can do these amazing lines.’

Crossing the spine of the Alps in the air was a highlight. ‘We took off in not great conditions, but then the sky opened and soon enough we were flying a 3200m. It was just like wow! 

‘Normally I would never have committed, but then there I was, doing it, crossing the main ridge of the Alps from north to south. I was cruising at 3700m over snow during the Red Bull X-Alps – and it felt so right.’

As a result her faith in her own flying has increased. ‘I trust myself. I trust my commitment.’

After a week in the race she is also still enjoying the ground race. ‘My body is still fit. But that might change today. I think I have a whole day of walking ahead of me. I had a top to bottom in the morning, but now I am hiking to Davos.’

The reality of the race so far has exceeded any expectations she had of it before.

‘I really didn’t know what to expect. I wasn’t sure I could put my head in the right place. It’s such a big event, with so much pressure around it. And we all make mistakes, get tired. And I have made quite a few silly mistakes. 

‘But I didn’t know if I was going to thrive all the way through, or if I would hit a wall. This fear has gone. I feel so good in the air and I’m doing way more than I expected. 

‘Everything I learned before, it’s like I got given a key to this little box inside me, and now I feel so calm flying. There is no fear. Everything I am doing is a conscious decision – it’s, OK, I’ve got this. And that’s a fantastic feeling.’

Follow her on the adventure across the Alps on Live Tracking

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